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Thursday, Feb. 3

Johnson, Redbirds add 14 on signing day  Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 3, 2005]  NORMAL -- Illinois State head football coach Denver Johnson announced at the Kaufman Football Building on Wednesday that 14 student-athletes signed national letters of intent to continue their education and football careers at Illinois State as members of the 2005 Redbird recruiting class.

"I'm very excited about this group; I thought we had a good day today," Johnson said. "The coaches worked very hard and a lot of people on campus worked hard selling our program to the recruits when they came here on their visits."

Inking with Illinois State were 11 high school products and three junior college transfers. Combined with six players who signed during the midyear signing period and are already attending classes at Illinois State, they form a 20-man recruiting class.

Johnson is pleased with the balance of the class.

"When you combine this group to the guys we signed midyear, it's really a strong bunch," Johnson said. "We've addressed some immediate needs, and there's some developmental guys who we think are going to be outstanding players down the road. This is also the strongest bunch of students that we've been able to recruit. I look forward to blending these guys in with the existing team."

Listing by position and combining the two groups, the 'Birds added five defensive backs, three linebackers, two running backs, two tight ends, two quarterbacks, two offensive linemen and a kicker. Johnson is impressed with the overall stature of this class.

"In past years, we were having to fill some desperate needs, but I don't feel we were in that situation this year," Johnson said. "We obviously had some pressing needs, but I don't feel like we were in desperation mode. This has been a normal recruiting cycle for us.

"We signed two corners and a couple of safeties who can play corner. We're going to give people opportunities to play corner, but we felt we addressed those needs in this recruiting class."

= = =

Chance Allard
Defensive end

Junior transfer, 6-3, 255, Calistoga, Calif.; Calistoga High School, Butte Community College
At Butte: Registered 49 tackles, four sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, five pass breakups and one interception in 2004 … all-conference and all-state first team selection … helped the Roadrunners to a 9-2 record and No. 2 ranking in the state … coached by Craig Rigsbee. At Calistoga H.S.: Two-time all-league, all-county and all-Empire selection … two-time team captain … named the team's most valuable player his senior season ... lettered in football, basketball and track ... coached by Rich Hermann. Data: Born Oct. 11, 1984, in Santa Rosa, Calif. ... son of Patrick and Ann Allard ... the youngest of three children … pronounced AL-ard.

Brian Arndt
Tight end

Junior transfer, 6-4, 245, Albuquerque, N.M.; Sandia High School, Glendale Community College
At Glendale: Preseason honorable mention all-America … coached by Joe Kersting. At Sandia H.S.: An all-state second team tight end, defensive end and punter … all-district first team … all-metro first team … all-city first team ... lettered in football, basketball and golf ... coached by Kevin Barker. Data: Born Dec. 12, 1984, in Albuquerque, N.M. ... son of Peter and Annette Arndt ... the youngest of three children … pronounced Arnt … junior college teammate of ISU's Ronnie Tate and Nick Gehrts.

Jelani Gamba
Defensive back

Junior transfer, 6-3, 205, Cypress, Calif.; Cypress High School, Fullerton Junior College
At Fullerton: Appeared in 10 games (nine starts) as a sophomore free safety ... collected 51 tackles (22 solo, three for loss) ... tied for team lead with three fumble recoveries, while forcing one ... had three pass breakups ... member of the 2004 Golden Empire Bowl championship team ... Hornets finished 7-4 overall ... recorded career-high eight tackles in three different games … tallied six tackles (four solo) in 24-20 bowl game win against Bakersfield (Nov. 20, 2004) ... freshman numbers included three tackles and one fumble recovery in eight games ... member of 2003 Mission Conference champions (5-0), California Final Four team and US Bank Beach Bowl champions ... team finished 10-3 overall and No. 14 in the final USA Today national rankings ... played under head coach Gene Murphy... originally signed with the University of Montana out of high school. At Cypress H.S.: All-California Interscholastic Federation safety at Cypress High in 2002 … voted All-Empire League, and team defensive MVP as a senior … selected second team his junior year … highlights included a 75-yard interception return against Kennedy High as a sophomore … also lettered in track and field and basketball. Data: Born Feb. 8, 1984, in Long Beach, Calif. … son of Pamela Johnson and Kminifu Gamba … has a twin sister … pronounced juh-LA-nee GAM-buh.

Brent Gritton

Incoming freshman, 6-2, 230, Lincoln, Neb.; Lincoln East High School
At Lincoln East H.S.: In 2004 preseason was ranked as the nation's No. 16 linebacker by Tom Lemming … ranked No. 5 prospect in the state by … played in five games his senior season before suffering an ankle injury … posted 65 tackles, including 40 solos, in those five games … a first team all-state selection his senior season … two-time first team all-city honoree and two-time all-conference recipient … played on the varsity three seasons … as a junior ranked No. 2 in the state with 148 tackles … also lettered in basketball. Data: Born March 27, 1987, in Tulsa, Okla. … son of Doug and Donna Gritton … has an older sister … pronounced gri-TON.

Nick Gehrts

Junior transfer, 6-2, 205, Buckeye, Ariz.; Buckeye Union High School, Glendale Community College
At Glendale: Passed for 1,057 yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games in 2004 … named the Western States Football League Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 203 yards and four touchdowns on 17-for-29 passing in a 42-16 win over Eastern Arizona … led the Gauchos on a five-game winning streak in 2004, including a 45-35 victory over No. 5-ranked Dixie State … coached by Joe Kersting. At Buckeye Union H.S.: As a senior threw for 1,425 yards and 13 touchdowns … named the offensive region player of the year … first team all-conference selection … honorable mention all-state … owns the school record for most career passing yards (3,300) and most passing yards in a season (1,442) … as a junior led the Hawks to their first playoff appearance (Class 4A) in school history with a 9-1 record and No. 6 ranking … earned honorable mention all-conference honors his junior and sophomore seasons … two-time team captain ... member of the honor roll ... lettered in football, basketball and baseball ... coached by Rudy Pacheco. Data: Born Oct. 3, 1983, in Phoenix, Ariz. ... son of Steven and Denise Gehrts ... the middle of three children … junior college teammate of ISU's Ronnie Tate and Brian Arndt.

Kashiev Hunter
Defensive tackle

Incoming freshman, 6-2, 285, Marietta, Ga.; Harrison High School
Background information not available at the time of this news release.

Muhammad Kahlun
Offensive line

Incoming freshman, 6-4, 270, Garland, Texas; Lakeview Centennial High School
At Lakeview Centennial H.S.: Led the way for the second-best rusher in the district during senior campaign ... honorable mention all-district, football captain, scholar award winner and Lion Heart award winner ... named best defensive lineman at the 2004 spring game, Gold Medal award winner for Best Athlete Unity Council ... academic excellence from 2002-2005 ... National Honor Society member and top 10 in senior class ... coached by Flint Risien. Data: Born Dec. 24, 1987 ... son of Azmat Ullah and Rubana Azmat Kahlun ... oldest of four children ... pronounced ka-LOON.

Bobby Kelsey

Incoming freshman, 6-1, 203, Channahon; Providence Catholic High School
At Providence Catholic H.S.: Four-year letter winner and starter … member of three Celtic state championship teams (2004, 2002 and 2001) … as a senior booted seven field goals, while setting the school mark with 52 touchbacks … boasted a 41.8 punting average and hauled in three touchdown catches … posted 130 touchbacks during his prep career and holds the school record with 18 career field goals … hauled in the game-winning catch on a 72-yard pass against St. Rita with 1:08 left in the game … longest kicks include a 68-yard punt, a 73-yard kickoff and a 49-yard field goal … a two-time Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times All-State selection … named to Tom Lemming's Preseason All-America list … a Prepstar All-American … a two-time all-area and all-conference selection … competed in Australia as part of the All-Midwest team … the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick state champion in 1997 … finished with 11 field goals in 2003 ... coached by Matt Senffner. Data: Born Sept. 30, 1986, in Joliet ... son of Jeff and Robyn Martis ... the oldest of five children … member of the honor roll.

Anthony Kummer

Incoming freshman, 6-2, 205, Cincinnati, Ohio; LaSalle High School
At LaSalle H.S.: Led team to the school's first-ever back-to-back state playoff appearances as a junior and senior, finishing 6-4 both seasons ... as a senior, passed for 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed for 300 yards and four touchdowns ... first team all-conference, honorable mention all-city, honorable mention All-Southwest Ohio as a junior and senior ... team captain senior year ... junior year, passed for 1,900 yards and 14 touchdowns, rushed for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs ... led the conference in passing and was second in rushing during junior campaign ... honor roll and National Honor Society member … coached by Tom Grippa. Data: Born Oct. 15, 1986, in Cincinnati, Ohio ... son of Joe and Lori Kummer ... the oldest of five children … pronounced KOO-mer.

Lamont LaGrone
Defensive back

Junior transfer, 5-10, 170, Houston, Texas; Clear Brook High School, East Mississippi Community College
At East Mississippi.: Played second year of college football with 10 solo tackles and four assisted ... also had four pass deflections. At Itawamba C.C.: Played freshman year of college, tallying three tackles. At Clear Brook H.S.: 21 solo tackles, nine assists and seven passes deflected during senior season ... also lettered in track and was the team's MVP as a senior ... finished third in the district in the long jump, fourth in the triple jump and fourth in the 200-meter dash ... as a junior, tallied eight solo tackles, four assisted and two pass deflections ... coached by James Smith. Data: Born April 29, 1984, in Macon, Miss. ... son of Ernest and Darlene White ... one of four children.

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Pierre Rembert
Running back

Junior transfer, 6-0, 209, Milwaukee, Wis.; Cudahy High School, Michigan
At Michigan (2004): Rushed once for 9 yards and played special teams vs. Miami of Ohio (Sept. 4) ... carried four times for 23 yards at Notre Dame (Sept. 11) ... had two carries for 11 yards vs. San Diego State (Sept. 18) ... saw action at running back and special teams vs. Iowa (Sept. 25) ... rushed once for 3 yards at Indiana (Oct. 2) ... saw action at running back and special teams vs. Minnesota (Oct. 9) ... saw action at running back and special teams at Illinois (Oct. 16) ... saw action at running back and special teams at Purdue (Oct. 23) ... saw action at running back and special teams vs. Michigan State (Oct. 30). At Michigan (2003): Earned first varsity letter ... played in all 13 games ... saw action at tailback in 11 contests ... rushed 21 times for 85 yards and scored three touchdowns ... contributed four special teams tackles ... made career debut against Central Michigan (Aug. 30), rushing five times for 14 yards and contributing one special teams tackle ... rushed three times for 22 yards and scored a career-high two touchdowns vs. Houston (Sept. 6) ... gained 15 yards on four carries and scored one touchdown vs. Notre Dame (Sept. 13) ... played backup running back and was on kickoff return unit at Oregon (Sept. 20) ... played running back vs. Indiana (Sept. 27), rushing five times for 15 yards ... special teams contributor at Iowa (Oct. 4) and at Minnesota (Oct. 10) ... rushed twice for 15 yards vs. Illinois (Oct. 18) ... special teams contributor vs. Purdue (Oct. 25) ... played running back and special teams at Michigan State (Nov. 1), recording one special teams tackle ... played running back and special teams at Northwestern (Nov. 15) ... rushed once for 3 yards and recorded one special teams tackle vs. Ohio Sate (Nov. 22) ... rushed once for 1 yard vs. Southern California in the Rose Bowl (Jan. 1). At Michigan (2002): U-M Athletic Academic Achievement ... did not see game action … coached by Lloyd Carr. At Cudahy H.S.: Started and lettered four years on varsity team … ran 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds … carried 696 times for 5,203 career yards … caught 27 passes for 500 yards … scored 80 career touchdowns … 2,188 yards and 29 touchdowns senior season … ran for 1,491 yards and 16 touchdowns in six games as a junior … ran for 1,500 yards as a sophomore … three-time all-conference selection … ranked No. 32 running back in the country and No. 22 in Midwest by SuperPrep … rated No. 17 running back and given a four-star rating by … named No. 4 player in the state of Wisconsin by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel … ranked No. 31 player in Midwest by Midwest Football Recruiting News … ranked No. 53 player in Midwest by Prep Football Report ... named all-conference in basketball and track as a sophomore and junior ... coached by Jeff Cavanaugh. Data: Born Oct. 30, 1983.

Rafael Rice
Running back

Junior transfer, 5-11, 210, Los Alamitos, Calif.; Mater Dei High School at Santa Ana; Fullerton Junior College
At Fullerton: Rushed for 985 yards and seven touchdowns … also had 103 receiving yards … earned first team All-Mission Conference National Division honors … all-state honorable mention … led the Hornets to a 7-4 record and a Golden Empire Bowl championship … finished the season ranked No. 10 in southern California … coached by Gene Murphy. At San Jose State (2003): Redshirted. At Mater Dei H.S.: Rushed for 1,287 yards his senior season with 26 touchdowns … first team All-Serra League selection … PrepStar All-American … All-California Interscholastic Federation selection … rushed for 1,365 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior en route to a first team All-Serra League selection ... coached by Bruce Rollinson … played his first two prep seasons at Loyola High School and rushed for 1,410 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore. Data: Born Feb. 26, 1985, in Columbus, Ohio ... son of William and Alice Rice … the third of four children … junior college teammate of ISU's Jelani Gamba.

J.W. Sheering

Incoming freshman, 6-2, 210, Clinton; Clinton High School
At Clinton H.S.: A three-year starter at quarterback and linebacker … led the Maroons to back-to-back IHSA Class 4A state playoff appearances … as a senior passed for 1,751 yards and 17 touchdowns … also rushed for 359 yards and five touchdowns … posted a school record 168 tackles his final season, including eight tackles for loss …added three interceptions … a first team all-conference selection at both positions … second team all-state … two-time team most valuable player … two-time Champaign News Gazette Player of the Week … first team all-area by the Bloomington Pantagraph and Decatur Herald & Review (senior and junior seasons) … two-time all-state honorable mention selection by the Champaign News Gazette ... owns the school record for career passing yards (3,190) and career touchdowns (31) … also owns the school standard for career tackles (408) … as a junior, passed for 1,389 yards and threw for 13 touchdowns, while collecting 123 tackles, including nine TFLs … honored by the Chicago Sun-Times his junior year as a first team all-state quarterback … lettered in football, basketball and baseball … coached by Josh Johnson. Data: Born Jan. 15, 1987, in Normal ... son of John and Lisa Sheering … has an older sister, Amber.

Kyle Siskowic

Incoming freshman, 6-1, 225, San Diego, Calif.; Clairemont High School
At Clairemont H.S.: A four-year letter winner and varsity starter … registered a school-record 164 tackles his senior season … added four sacks, two blocked kicks, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and one interception … in 2004 led Clairemont to its first league championship in 32 years … named the team's most valuable player his junior and senior seasons … team defensive MVP his sophomore season … two-time first team all-league selection … named to the Union Tribune All-San Diego Selection Football Team … earned the National Football Hall of Fame Award … California Interscholastic Federation first team recipient … posted 437 career tackles during his prep career, including 111 stops as a junior … lettered in football, basketball and tennis … coached by Mike Smerdon. Data: Born Sept. 10, 1986, in LaJolla, Calif. ... son of Dan (deceased) and Liz Siskowic … younger brother of current Illinois State linebacker Cameron Siskowic.

Chance Smith
Defensive back

Incoming freshman, 5-11, 180, Columbus, Ohio; Beechcroft High School
At Beechroft H.S.: Team finished 9-1 senior year ... as a senior, had 483 yards rushing and 12 receptions for 80 yards ... also tallied 35 tackles and six interceptions ... earned all-city, all-area and All-Ohio honors ... team captain and MVP senior season ... as a junior, recorded 27 tackles and three interceptions for 43 yards ... team had six shutouts during junior campaign, a school record ... played in 10 games as a sophomore, including one starting assignment ... National Honor Society member, National Honor Roll member and "Who's Who" academic award winner ... three-year varsity player ... also competed in track and basketball ... coached by Tom Dunlap. Data: Born April 4, 1987, in Canton, Ohio ... son of Charles and Lisa Thomas ... oldest of three children.

Jason Tate
Defensive back

Incoming freshman, 5-11, 171, Lake Mary, Fla.; Seminole High School
At Seminole H.S.: Three-year starter on varsity ... as a senior, tallied 70 tackles, including three tackles for loss and 44 solo, four interceptions, nine pass breakups and one defensive touchdown ... named the team's defensive MVP ... first team all-conference, all-district, All-Central Florida and second team all-state ... honorable mention All-South ... team finished 7-3 during senior season ... as a junior, tallied 52 tackles, including 28 solo and four interceptions ... second team all-conference and second team all-district ... four-year member of the honor roll ... coached by Mick Harris. Data: Born Dec. 28, 1986, in St. Louis, Mo. ... son of Gwen Tate ... has an older brother ... high school teammate of ISU's Bert Whigham.

Ronnie Tate
Defensive end

Junior transfer, 6-3, 255, Glendale, Ariz.; Westview High Schoool, Glendale Community College
At Glendale: Collected 9.5 sacks as a sophomore … NJCAA All-Region I honorable mention selection … team posted a combined 14-6 mark in his two seasons … coached by Joe Kersting. At Westview H.S.: Posted a team-high 12 sacks, a school record, his senior season … first team all-region … first team all-state ... three-year varsity player on a team that advanced to the playoffs every season … coached by George Martinez. Data: Born March 8, 1985, in Phoenix, Ariz. ... son of Ron and Tonie Tate … youngest of three children … junior college teammate of ISU's Nick Gehrts and Brian Arndt.

Bert Whigham
Tight end

Incoming freshman, 6-4, 245, Lake Mary, Fla.; Seminole High School
At Seminole H.S.: Three-sport athlete at Seminole ... competed in football, basketball and track ... member of the principal's honor roll ... coached by Mick Harris. Data: Born Sept. 18, 1986, in Sanford, Fla. ... stepson of Wayne Stephens and son of Sally Whigham Stephens ... has an older brother ... high school teammate of ISU's Jason Tate.

Nick Zapata
Offensive line

Incoming freshman, 6-2, 300, Mesquite, Texas; Dr. John Horn High School
At Dr. John Horn H.S.: Lettered four seasons and started three … the team captain his senior season … named second team All-District 5A his senior season … a two-time second team All-District 4A selection (junior and sophomore seasons) … coached by Don Payne. Data: Born Dec. 26, 1986, in Houston, Texas ... son of Armando Zapata and Sandra Plunk … cousin of former Wichita State hoopster Jason Perez … member of the honor roll.

[Todd Kober, assistant athletics director, media relations,
Illinois State University]

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