Phillip Dowden (Evangel Sports Information) SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Evangel University football team and Head Coach Chuck Hepola announced the addition of 33 players Wednesday with players coming from eight different states.
“Evangel is a place where we want the best of the best,” Hepola said. “That encompasses helping our student-athletes grow in three areas: Spiritual, Academic and Athletic. Once we find a recruit who has all three qualities we go after them with full force.”
“We want to develop our athletes to grow in Christ first. That is the foundation of who we are. Academically, we want student-athletes who compete in the classroom as hard as they do on the field. Lastly, we want players that help us win a championship.”
Evangel continued to bring in local talent with 16 players from Missouri including 14 from the Springfield/Joplin area and two from Kansas City. Among the 33 signees, the other seven states represented include, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas and Louisiana. Included in the 33 are a pair of mid-year transfers as well.
“We are excited to have a solid crop of local talent mixed with our out of state signees,” Hepola continued. “We have to win our backyard to build consistent winning teams and we feel like we have signed some of the best talents in the area. Our coaches have done a great job going outside the state of Missouri and adding some high-level talent to help us get to the next level.”
Also, the Crusaders bring in two mid-year transfers, Jansen Acklin from Lyon College and Anthony Riley from NCAA Division II Quincy University.
Below are brief bios on each of the players the Crusaders added Wednesday:
Jansen Acklin, WR, 5-10, 165, Lyon College/Mtn. View-Birch Tree High School/Mtn. View, Missouri
Transfer from Lyon College … All-State wide receiver for the Eagles and two-time all-area wide receiver … Two-time all-conference and all-district wide receiver selection finishing with over 2,000 yards receiving and 32 touchdowns … Also earned all-district and all-conference in basketball, baseball and track and field … Holds school record for receptions in a season and game as well as receiving touchdowns in a game … Played for father Darin Acklin.
Jamison Baiza, DB, 6-0, 170, Olathe Northwest High School/Olathe, Kansas
A two-sport athlete in football and wrestling … Played for head coach Chip Sherman … Four-year varsity letterman in wrestling.
Cameron Belk, OL, 6-2, 295, Trinity Christian High School/Cedar Hill, Texas
An all-district selection at offensive and defensive line … NUC All-American … Played for head coach Chris Wesley … Also participated in track and field and was a state runner-up in the shot put.
Sam Buckner, WR, 5-9, 158, Lee’s Summit High School/Lee’s Summit, Missouri
A three-sport athlete playing football for head coach Eric Thomas … Earned all-district and all-conference honors … Finished senior year with 628 yards receiving and over 1,400 for a career with 14 touchdowns … Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Dalton Cloyd, DB, 5-10, 175, Fair Grove High School/Fair Grove, Missouri
Earned second team all-state honors at defensive back and kick returner … Named conference Player of the Year as a senior … First Team all-conference selection at running back, defensive back and kick returner … Played for head coach Bill Voorhis … Rushed for over 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns while adding 533 yards receiving … Tallied 63 tackles, four interceptions and two defensive touchdowns … Returned four kicks for a touchdown setting school record for a season and career … Academic All-State honoree … Also participated in track and field and basketball.
Dyllan Decker, QB, 6-3, 180, Camdenton High School/Camdenton, Missouri
First team all-conference and all-district selection at quarterback … Earned all-region honors as a senior … Two-year starter at quarterback throwing for over 2,500 yards and 35 touchdowns … Played for head coach Jeff Shore … Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Barry Dubose, OL, 6-1, 309, Wylie High School/Wylie, Texas
Earned First Team all-district honors … Played for head coach Bill Howard … Academic all-district selection. 3-year starter on the offensive line.
Haaken Friend, TE, 6-6, 200, Lighthouse Christian Academy/Springfield, Missouri
Earned second team all-Ozark honors … Led National Homeschool Football Association in receiving as a junior and senior with over 1,000 yards and 65 catches in 2016 … Recorded 107 tackles and four interceptions … Played for head coach Brian Bess … Also participated in baseball and basketball … Brother Ben Friend plays football at Evangel.
Taylor Green, DL, 6-0, 233, Wylie High School/Wylie, Texas
Named first team all-district defensive lineman … Voted team captain and team defensive MVP … Recorded 145 tackles and five sacks … Played for head coach Bill Howard … Earned second team academic all-state honors … Also participated in track and field.
Chance Hepola, WR, 5-9, 160, Willard High School/Willard, Missouri
Played quarterback and wide receiver at Willard High … Played for head coach Brock Roweton … Was 10-of-18 for 233 yards passing and finished with 113 yards receiving … Finished with 21.5 tackles at defensive back … Sister Courtney Hepola plays soccer at Evangel … Father Chuck Hepola played baseball at Evangel and is the head football coach.
Zach King, LB, 5-11, 190, Kearney High School/Kearney, Nebraska
Earned all-state honor and was an all-Territory Team linebacker … Played for head coach Brandon Cool … Finished senior season with 87 tackles, two interceptions and 10th all-time in tackles at Kearney High … Two-time all-academic selection … Also Participated in basketball and soccer.
Zeke Kuyawa, QB, 5-11, 185, Mansfield Timberview High School/Mansfield, Texas
Finished with over 1,100 yards passing and seven touchdowns as a senior … Rushed for 416 yards and seven touchdowns … Played for head coach James Brown … Named Academic all-state in football and baseball … Also participated in baseball.
Darrius Lee, RB, 5-8, 173, Mansfield Lake Ridge High School/Mansfield, Texas
Earned all-district honors at running back … Rushed for over 1,000 yards with 14 touchdowns … Tied school record for most touchdowns in a game … Named Academic al-state and all-district … Also participated in baseball and track and field.
Athanie Leeviraphan, DB, 5-11, 175, Owasso High School/Owasso, Oklahoma
Earned academic all-conference and all-district honors … Played for head coach Bill Patterson … Named to Principal’s Honor Roll … Also participated in baseball at Owasso High.
Brady Leffingwell, OL, 6-2, 270, Regent Preparatory School of Oklahoma/Tulsa, Oklahoma
A five-sport athlete at Regent Prep in Tulsa … Named first team all-district honors and was an all-state selection … Played for head coach Adam Bishop … Earned Christian Leadership Award and was a National Merit Scholar.
Austin Lindsey, WR, 6-2, 185, Lincoln Christian School/Tulsa, Oklahoma
Earned first team all-conference and all-district at wide receiver … Finished with 924 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns … Tallied 48 tackles and two interceptions on defense … Played for head coach Darren Melton … Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Adam Lucht, LS, 6-2, 242, Summit Christian Academy/Lee’s Summit, Missouri
A two-time all-conference selection at defensive line … Named all-district offensive line as a senior … Played for Dalton Vann helping the team go 11-2 as a senior … Earned academic all-state honors … Also participated in basketball and wrestling … Was a Principal’s Honor Roll selection all four years.
Sydney Mavengere, DB, 6-2, 185, Willard High School/Willard, Missouri
First Team all-area and all-district defensive back … Named second team all-conference defensive back … Played for head coach Brock Roweton.
Trey Mooney, TE, 6-3, 215, Lamar High School/Lamar, Missouri
All-District and all-conference defensive back … Helped Lamar to Missouri state-record sixth consecutive state championship … Played for head coach Scott Bailey … Academic all-state selection … Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Easton Pierce, DL, 6-1, 199, Rice Lake High School/Rice Lake, Wisconsin
Earned all-conference honors at linebacker … Led team in tackles as a senior … Played for head coach Dan Hill … Finished with four sacks and nine tackles for a loss and voted defensive team captain … Also played baseball.
Josh Pipkin, LB, 6-0, 200, Ash Grove High School/Ash Grove, Missouri
Named second team all-state at linebacker … Voted team defensive MVP … Played for head coach Ryan Long … Also participated in track and field at Ash Grove High School.
Tylar Prestidge-Murry, ATH, 6-0, 174, Beggs High School/Beggs, Oklahoma
All-State Honorable Mention selection and two-time first team all-district quarterback … Named 2016 District 3A-6 Offensive Player of the Year … Finished with over 2,000 yards passing, 800 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns … Played for head coach Lee Blankenship … Also participated in track and field.
Anthony Riley, RB, 6-0, 220, Quincy University/Parkview High School/Springfield, Missouri
Redshirt season at NCAA-II Quincy University … Named a first team All-Missouri running back and second team all-state by the Missouri Football Coaches Association as a senior … Led the Parkview ground game with back-to-back 2,000-yard, 25-touchdown seasons … Was a two-time unanimous all-conference choice … Holds multiple school records … Served as a team captain.
Caden Robinson, OL, 6-2, 281, Summit Christian Academy/Lee’s Summit, Missouri
All-State defensive lineman at Summit Christian … Played for head coach Dalton Vann helping the team finish 11-2 as a senior … Was first team all-conference on both offensive and defensive lines … Voted team captain as a senior … Also participated in wrestling and track and field.
Terry Robinson, RB, 5-8, 231, Memorial High School/Tulsa, Oklahoma
Finished with over 1,200 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns … Voted Team Offensive MVP and was voted Top Five Running Backs by Oklahoma VYPE … Played for head coach Ryan Reed … Also participated in basketball, wrestling and track and field.
Jalen Roby, WR, 6-2, 165, Greenfield High School/Greenfield, Missouri
Earned all-state honors at wide receiver and was an all-district wide receiver and defensive end … Also earned all-state and all-conference accolades in baseball … Played for head coach Brian Lowry … Finished senior season with 597 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, 56 tackles and six sacks … Also participated in track and field helping set a school record in the 4×800-meter relay … Academic all-state selection in football and baseball … Was named Valedictorian at Greenfield High School.
Triston Shepherd, LB, 6-2, 200, Diamond High School/Diamond, Missouri
Earned all-state honorable mention honors as a senior and was a three-time all-conference selection … Earned all-district accolades at running back … Played for Head coach Ben Glidewell … Rushed for over 2,000 yards as a senior with 25 touchdowns … Also participated in basketball and track and field.
Pierce Smith, OL, 6-6, 332, Lincoln Christian School/Tulsa, Oklahoma
Earned all-state honorable mention accolades and was an all-district selection … Played for head coach Darren Melton … Named Eastern Oklahoma Lineman Camp MVP … Also played basketball.
Parker Soper, WR, 5-10, 172, Ash Grove High School/Ash Grove, Missouri
Earned first team Missouri Coaches Association All-State honors and was a second team all-state media selection … Named all-district at wide receiver and kick returner while also earning first team all-conference honors … Four-year varsity letterman … Played for head coach Ryan Long … Also participated in track and field.
Allen Taylor III, RB, 5-10, 170, Edward Douglas White Catholic H.S./Thibodaux, Louisiana
Three-sport athlete at Edward Douglas White Catholic High School … Played for head coach Chris Bergeron … Missed senior season due to injury … Was named to the Honor Roll as a senior.
Hayden Weddle, LB, 6-0, 213, Lebanon High School/Lebanon, Missouri
Named Second Team all-region and second team all-conference … Played for head coach Will Christian … Earned academic all-state honors.
George Williamson, OL, 6-5, 270, Lewis-Palmer High School/Monument, Colorado
A four-sport athlete at Lewis-Palmer High School … Played for head coach Dustin Tupper … Helped Rangers finish 10-2 last season on the offensive line.
Noah Williams, DL, 6-4, 238, Lincoln Christian School/Tulsa, Oklahoma
Earned all-district honors at defensive end … Played for head coach Darren Melton … Finished with 47 tackles and four tackles for a loss with three fumble recoveries … Also played basketball at Lincoln Christian.