Fuente building off Memphis' 10-win season, Top 25 ranking
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Tigers and coach Justin Fuente have done their best to capitalize on their best season in decades with his fourth signing class.
The Tigers are coming off a 10-3 season, their double-digit win season since 1983, that also earned them a No. 25 ranking in The Associated Press' final poll. They earned a share of the American Athletic Conference title - their first since 1971 - and won the Miami Beach Bowl.
''I think it gives a tangible reference point for those kids,'' Fuente said Wednesday of the Tigers' success. ''It's no longer just a dream or a vision. It's something that they are able to see. The trophies and ability to see the games on television validates the hard work that the kids before them have put in. I think those played big roles. Slowly we are building a brand and reputation.''
Fuente landed a 30-member signing class with eight already enrolled, including a pair of Memphis natives who transferred home in Mark Dodson from Mississippi and offensive lineman Ryan Mack from Louisville. He also signed Jae'Lon Oglesby, a wide receiver out of South Carolina who originally signed with Clemson before spending a season at Fork Union Military Academy.
''We got a phone call and went out there to investigate it and go through all of our leg work,'' Fuente said. ''It was something that Jae'Lon was interested in and something that we were interested in. It just kind of worked out.''
Barton Simmons, national scouting director for 247Sports, credited Memphis with digging up some really good prospects, especially quarterback Brady Davis out of Starkville.
''I think he's part of a really strong group,'' Simmons said. ''They recruited well in the JUCO ranks. They recruited well in west Tennessee and Mississippi. That staff has proven they know how to evaluate and know how to develop.''
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Jae'Lon Oglesby, WR, Central, S.C.
Best of the rest: Jamarius Henderson, RB, Ozark, Ala.
Late addition: Henderson.
One that got away: Antonio Reed, S, Nebraska.