LAKE CHARLES – McNeese football head coach Frank Wilson and his staff battled through extenuating circumstances with the damage and destruction of campus and athletic facilities due to hurricanes Laura and Delta, and also restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But even with all of the road blocks and hurdles, the Cowboys signed a talented class on football’s early National Signing Day.
McNeese inked 11 players – six defense and five offense, and are expected to sign another offensive player in the next few days.
All 11 call Louisiana their home while two are from Southwest Louisiana – quarterback Dillon Simon out of Lake Charles College Prep and Westlake native and defensive lineman Eli Goss who transferred to South Beauregard to play his senior year.
“We set out to sign 12 players. We had a dozen players identified that were in position academically as qualifiers that fit the bill of the need of our football team,” said Wilson. “We were able to get 11 of those 12 but we waited on the 12th because of a very dire family emergency.
“But today we have 11. It was very important that we dwell in Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish. With our staff evaluations, we feel like we got the best defensive player in Calcasieu Parish, and offensively, we feel like we have one of the most dynamic players in the state and most dynamic in Lake Charles.”
Mandeville quarterback Devon Tott joins Simon to give McNeese two of the top quarterbacks in Louisiana.
“We currently have three scholarship quarterbacks. One is senior Cody Orgeron who has told me he wants to come back. One in Walker Wood who is a rising senior and then we have a redshirt freshman, so we’re top-heavy with two guys and then not much youth,” said Wilson. “We went the high school route with these two quarterbacks to get both quality and quantity in the style of play that we desire. The things we’re going to do offensively from a spread set and make the defenses defend the entire field in width and length, these quarterbacks give us that. They both extend plays. They keep their eyes downfield. They’re both extremely bright and they give us what we desire in a style of play.”
Goss chose McNeese over multiple other offers and will continue his family’s legacy as a Cowboy.
“We’re very fortunate to have him,” said Wilson. “He has a brother that just graduated. A sister that’s in school here. A cousin that graduated from here. A mother and father that went to school here. His family lineage, they range from baseball to basketball and to student only as well. There’s family history. We wanted Eli to know we see you and that you’re part of the fiber of McNeese, your family is, and you mean a ton to us. We recruited him very aggressively. We recruited his family to reassure them that we don’t take it for granted that because you guys went to school here, that he would come here. He’s a natural three technique that can bump out at five at times. He’s a blue-collar, hard-working technician that adds value to our team.”
The biggest number of signees came in the defensive backfield area where the Cowboys signed four defensive backs to help fill the void of those that decided to opt out and leave the team.
“That was everything,” said Wilson about signing the four DBs. “We’ve had about four or five that have opted out. We won’t have those guys this spring season but come the fall, we’ll add the troops and benefit to have quantity there.”
2021 McNeese Football Early Signing Class
Clay Ancelet • OL • 6-4 • 274 • Ascension Episcopal HS
1st Team All-District who led his team with 76 knockdown blocks during his senior campaign… District Champion in the shot put and discus… member of the National Honor Society.
Cameron Foster • OL • 6-3 • 283 • Northwood HS
Two-sport letterman who accumulated 25 knockdowns, seven tackles for a loss, three sacks and 20 total tackles during his senior season… state champion in the shot put.
Edward Gilds III • S • 5-11 • 190 • St. Augustine HS
Explosive tackler who accounted for more than 40 solo tackles during his senior season… picked off six passes in his career… eight pass break ups… helped lead his team to the state quarterfinals his senior season.
Eli Goss • DL • 6-3 • 275 • South Beauregard HS
All-District two years in a row… accounted for 159 tackles in his career… in his senior season, recorded 11 sacks, 28 quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles and scored three touchdowns.
Alijah Hamilton • CB • 5-11 • 185 • Hahnville HS
A dynamic returner with over 500 return yards and four touchdowns during his senior season… led the defense with 97 tackles, six interceptions, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Jalen Johnson • WR • 5-9 • 165 • Holy Cross HS
A four-year starter who amassed over 2,500 career all-purpose yards while scoring 21 touchdowns… versatile player that has lined up at quarterback, running back, and defensive back… set a school record for most all-purpose yards in a game with 388.
Twillie Lovett • CB • 6-0 • 170 • Belle Chasse HS
Two-way starter, who as a senior playing quarterback, recorded 884 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in seven games played… on defense, totaled 70 tackles, four interceptions, seven pass break ups and four tackles for a loss in a two-year span.
Dillon Simon • QB • 5-10 • 170 • Lake Charles College Prep
Three-time First Team All-District… All-Southwest Louisiana MVP… three-year starter who compiled a 39-5 record in his career… 7,000 passing yards and 96 touchdowns… district and regional champion in the 4x100-meter relay.
Devon Tott • QB • 6-3 • 175 • Mandeville HS
All-District QB with nearly 2,000 passing yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior campaign… led team to quarterfinals of state playoffs… nominated as the best QB in the state of Louisiana.
Travis Walker Jr. • S • 6-2.5 • 163 • Landry HS
As a senior, recorded 20 tackles, seven interceptions, forced fumble, three pass break ups and a blocked field goal… defensive leader and helped lead team to a district title in 2019.
Welland Williams • DL • 6-1 • 280 • East St. John
Four-year starter… two-time All-District… team MVP… three-time All-Academic… career numbers include 160 total tackles, 69 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, 8 fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and two touchdowns… state champion in shot put and discus.