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Rocco Announces 2007 Football Signing Class

February 7, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Coach Rocco announces 11 signees for 2007.

Coach Rocco announces 11 signees for 2007.

Coach Rocco's Press Conference Audio

2007 Signing Class Highlight Football (requires Windows Media Player)

Liberty University Head Football Coach Danny Rocco has announced the signing of 11 players to national letters of intent for the 2007-08 academic year.

"We are very excited about this year's signing class," stated Rocco. "This is a very talented group of players which we have assembled, allowing us to upgrade our talent pool at several different positions.

"We set out to make a mark in the state of Virginia and compete with the other I-AA programs in the state. We have signed eight players from Virginia and all of them had options at either the I-A or I-AA levels. We think this speaks volumes for where our program is at and where we are heading in the future."

Of the 11 players, seven are slated to play on the offensive side of the ball (2 QB, 2 OL, 2 TE, 1 RB), three are defensive players (2 LB and 1 DB) and one player could play on either sides of the field (DB or WR).

This marks Rocco's second recruiting class at Liberty. The Big South Coach of the Year guided Liberty to a 6-5 record in his inaugural season last fall, marking a five-game win improvement over 2005 which ranked tied for the nation's best turnabout from the previous year.

Listed below are the 11 members of the 2007 Liberty University Football Signing Class: 

Patrick Bannon – LB, 6-4, 235, Lexington, Va./Rockbridge County High School
Four-year letterwinner for the Wildcats … finished his career with 424 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles and pass break-ups, five blocked kicks, three sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery … also added 23 receptions for 336 yards and five touchdowns during his career … all-district first-team selection as a junior … AP All-State, All-Timesland and all-district second-team honoree during his junior year … named Valley District Defensive Player of the Year as a senior linebacker … finished the year with 152 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss and four sacks … AP All-State, All-Timesland, All-Region and All-District first-team honoree as a senior … is rated 41st on the Top 100 seniors list in the state of Virginia.

Mike Brown –QB, 6-0, 185, Charlottesville, Va./Monticello High School
Four-year letterwinner … two-time Monticello Most Valuable Player … All-Central Virginia first-team (quarterback) and All-Jefferson District second-team (defensive back) selections as a sophomore ... All-Jefferson District second-team honoree at quarterback, defensive back and punter as a junior … All-Central Virginia first-team utility player as a senior at quarterback, defensive back and punter … named Falcon Club Player of the Year as a senior … All-Jefferson District first-team (defensive back) and second-team (quarterback and punt returner) as a senior … also a four-year letterwinner in baseball and basketball … captained both the football and basketball team in his final three prep seasons …joined the 1,000 career point club in basketball as a senior … three-time member of the academic honor roll … three-time recipient of the VHSL Academic Excellence award … National Honor Society member.

Larry Clairborne – DB, 6-1, 175, Ringgold, Va./GW Danville High School
Two-year letterwinner at defensive back … finished his junior year with 38 solo tackles … posted 58 solo stops as a senior, plus seven interceptions and seven pass break-ups … all-district and all-region first-team honoree as a senior … also named to the all-state second team during his senior year … honor roll student.

Michael Connolly – OLB, 6-3, 242, Sarasota, Fla./Cardinal Mooney High School
Four-year letterwinner … two-year varsity starter … member of an undefeated freshman team … posted 45 tackles, 10 sacks, three pass break-ups and a safety as a freshman … started with the junior varsity team as a sophomore, recording 50 tackles, 10 sacks, five pass break-ups and three forced fumbles … selected team's Most Valuable Defensive Lineman as a junior … posted 67 tackles, 11 sacks, six pass break-ups, three forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown as a junior … helped Cardinal Mooney High School to a district and regional championship as a senior and the state semifinals … all-area second-team honoree as a senior … was selected to the Pal Bowl All-Star game as a senior after finishing the year with 25 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles … team captain during his senior campaign … selected his team's Most Inspirational Player as a senior as he returned from ACL surgery in less than five months to play in the final five games of the year … varsity basketball starter … seven-year member of an AAU basketball team … named to the honor roll six-straight semesters … National Honor Society member … Key Club … has an athletic background as his uncle, Larry Henshaw, played tight end for Lehigh and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Spencer Hodges – OL, 6-6, 292, Bradenton, Fla./Manatee High School
Four-year letterwinner … started at offensive tackle as a freshman … junior varsity team captain as a sophomore … started with the varsity team at left tackle as a junior and senior … helped Manatee High School to back-to-back Class 5A district titles during his junior and senior years … state semifinalist both seasons … all-state first-team offensive lineman as a senior … finished his senior year with 50 pancakes, including 13 in a single game … all-district track honoree in the shot put.

Ricky Jenkins – TE, 6-3, 230, Fort Washington, Md./Friendly High School
Three-year letterwinner at tight end and long snapper … was a member of the Friendly High School state championship team in 2006 … is ranked as the third-best tight end in the state of Maryland by … ranks 42nd in the nation as a tight end by … indoor track athlete which helped break the state 4x200 meter record in 2005 … National Honor Roll … Who's Who Among High School Students.

LaRandale Lee – DB/WR, 6-0, 175, Newport News, Va./Heritage
Two-year letterwinner … recorded 40 tackles, seven pass break-ups and six interceptions as a junior … added 15 catches for 251 yards and two touchdowns during his junior year … All-Peninsula District honorable-mention selection as a junior … capped off his high school career by posting 56 tackles, nine interceptions, four pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown as a senior … added 19 catches for 347 yards and two touchdowns during his senior year … All-Peninsula District first-team defensive back selection and All- Peninsula District second-team wide receiver selection.

Justin McCracken – QB, 6-3, 195, Cedar Bluff, Va./Richlands High School
Two-year letterwinner ... threw for 1,701 yards as a junior and was named to the All-Southwest District and All-Region IV first teams and VHSCA All-State second team … scattered his own school record by throwing for 2,610 yards as a senior … posted a 66.3 completion percentage as a senior (160-of-241) and threw for 27 touchdowns in leading Richlands to an undefeated season and a state title … completed 20-of-32 pass attempts for 176 yards and two touchdowns against Rockbridge in the 2006 VHSL championship game hosted by Liberty University at Williams Stadium … named Player of the Year by All-Southwest District, All-Region IV, Wautauga Orthopedics, All-Four Season County, Pocahontas Coal Association and the All-State VHSCA … All-State VHSCA and AP all-state first-team honoree as a senior.

Shay Nicholson – RB, 5-11, 210, Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee High School
Four-year letterwinner … rushed for 985 yards on 99 carries (9.9 average) for 13 touchdowns as a junior … named to the all-district and all-region teams during his junior season … capped off his prep career in grand fashion as he rushed for 1,532 yards on 181 carries (8.5 average) and 25 touchdowns … Staunton Daily News Offensive Player of the Year as a senior … all-district first-team and all-region II second-team honoree as a senior … was a state qualifier in the 55 meters in track as a junior … finished second in the region and seventh in the state in the 100 meters.

Tommy Shaver – TE, 6-6, 240, Hot Springs, Va./Bath County High School
Four-year letterwinner … All-Region "C" first-team and all-state honorable mention as a tight end during his junior year … caught 17 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown as a junior … also added 88 tackles, 4.5 sacks, nine tackles for a loss, an interception and a fumble recovery as a linebacker during his junior year … named to the "Hot 100" list and the Roanoke Times "Elite Eleven" squad as a senior … all-district first-team and All-Region "C" second-team honoree as a senior … posted career numbers in his final year at Bath County with 35 receptions for 438 yards and eight touchdowns at tight end … also added 88 tackles at linebacker.

Toney White – OL, 6-5, 280, Manassas Park, Va./Manassas Park High School
Three-year letterwinner … member of the junior varsity team as a freshman … helped Manassas Park to a perfect 14-0 record en route to region, district and state championships as a sophomore … all-district second-team offensive tackle during his sophomore season … guided Manassas Park to a state runner-up title with a 13-1 mark as a junior … all-district, all-region and all-state first-team defensive tackle with 60 tackles and five sacks as a junior … also was a all-district first-team and all-region second-team selection at offensive tackle as a junior … all-district, all-region, all-state first-team offensive tackle as a senior … all-district and all-region first-team defensive tackle as a senior … was No. 59 on Roanoke Times' Top 100 Virginia recruits list.