It is safe to say UWA is no longer the doormat of the Gulf South Conference. In fact, they came extremely close to not only winning the GSC, but earning a top seed in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
"Respect the Grind" has become the team's motto.
UWA lost several key seniors from last year's playoff team. Yet it appears those players will not be missed much if their replacements step up as expected. Plus, a large portion of the starting lineup on both sides of the ball are returning next season.
Heading into Signing Day 2012, Coach Will Hall and his staff's main concern was adding depth to an already extremely talent roster. A recruiting class of 49 says Coach Hall and his staff more than achieved that goal.
It is highly unlikely, however, everybody signed will actually suit up for the Tigers. For the past two seasons, UWA has had some recruits who did not meet admission requirements.
What UWA Did Well:
The running back, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, defensive back and secondary positions all needed depth. That was achieved in this year's recruiting class.
Matthew Willis is an awesome running back. He will likely conclude his career as the best ever to play for UWA (no offense to Johnny Shepherd).
However, the coaching staff has to cut down on his amount of carries from last season. The crop of running backs in this year's class will allow them to do so, especially since there are several freshmen.
Speaking of which, you have to admire the amount of youth in this year's recruiting class. Typically the JUCO players outnumber the homegrown talent who came to UWA as freshmen. The hope now is that majority of the freshmen remain qualified.
There seems to be a lot of speed guys in this class, which means there are extra options in the return game. Having star receiver Gerald Worsham return kicks last season was dangerous considering how valuable he was the offense. Now it seems the starting running back and receivers will not have to worry about that.
Dustyn Moseley (the brother of Auburn's Clint Moseley) is one of several steals in this class. Mainly because he seemed destined to sign with a Division I school. Moseley threw for 3,100 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior at Jackson (Ala.) High School.
He was also a finalist for 4A Back of the Year. Coach Hall stated in the video above, Moseley really wanted to be a Tiger. If the coaching staff is smart, they should redshirt Moseley, let him learn the offensive system, and transition him into the starting role during the 2015 season.
What UWA Did Not Do Well:
There should have been a JUCO quarterback signed in this year's class. Sure, the Karl Birkenfeld experiment fizzled before it got started, which placed freshman Kyle Caldwell in the starting lineup before he was ready.
Yet, it worked out for Caldwell.
He should remain the starter for the next three seasons. Still, having a experienced backup is key. Gary Johnston should receive a position change. So it should not be him unless totally necessary. Signee Ridge Turner can play the position, but he is a better fit at fulfilling multiple roles on offense as opposed to just one.
Jordan Ikner has a strong leg. So pulling double duty as a kicker and punter is something he can handle. However, an extra kicker should have been recruited. Kyle Caldwell handled kicking duties in high school. So perhaps he will be the emergency kicker.
Or the coaching staff could look toward the newly established UWA soccer team, and borrow a player if needed. Just saying.