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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Berry's recruiting class features balanced mix

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Tony Kunczewski

Berry head football coach Tony Kunczewski said he feels they were able to recruit some areas they've worked to break into the last few years for the incoming class. / File, Jeremy Stewart

The group of 43 recruits will join the two-time Southern Athletic Association Champions for the upcoming year, set to begin at home Sept. 1st against Maryville. Berry head coach Tony Kunczewski said he was pleased with the work his coaches have done on the recruiting trail.

“Our coaching staff did a tremendous job once again bringing in very strong talent on the field and in the classroom,” Kunczewski said. “We were pleased with how we did in our home state and also felt like we finally broke into some other areas we’ve worked hard in over the last couple years.”

The Division III team’s 2018 recruiting class features a total of 43 athletes ready to suit up in Berry blue, 31 of which are from Georgia with others from Florida, Tennessee and North Carolina. Among the 11 from the Northwest Georgia area, three are from Floyd County schools.

“We are so fortunate to be in arguably one of the best recruiting areas for high school football in the country,” Kunczewski said. “We are especially proud of how many guys are coming in here after serving as captains for their high school teams. That does not go unnoticed in our eyes. We feel confident this group will be a good fit at Berry with an exciting future.”

The positions with the most recruits are linebacker and receiver with nine each. Those are also where the new homegrown talent will line up at when preseason practice starts.

Armuchee linebacker JC Burkett will be sliding down U.S. 27 to join the Vikings after his final season with the Indians. The three-time All-region selection was selected to the Northwest Georgia All-Star game during his senior year completed his high school career with 332 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.

Joining the ranks at wideout for Berry are Pepperell’s TJ Watkins and Unity Christian’s Janson Slaughter.

 Watkins joins the Vikings after three all-region selections and a regional title during his junior year. He had 688 yards receiving and six touchdowns on 36 catches in his senior season when he also served as team captain.

Slaughter was a key cog in Unity Christian’s turnaround season as the Lions went 9-1 in the regular season in 2017 and earned a spot in the GICAA state playoffs. The 6-foot-3 athlete from Cedartown had 67 receptions for 1,105 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior year and was selected to play in the 2018 GICAA State All-Star Game.

The incoming class also features some family connections as brothers Nathaniel Robertson and Nick Robertson are enrolling together, and two siblings of Vikings are also signed up.

Both of the Robertson brothers played their prep careers at University Christian High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Nathaniel Robertson is a linebacker and a two-sport athlete, having competed in cross country. Nick Robertson is an offensive lineman, serving as team captain as both a junior and senior.

TJ Ciresi, a wide receiver out of University Christian as well, is joining the Vikings after helping his team win back-to-back state championships. He is the younger brother of celebrated Berry wideout Trey Ciresi, who graduated earlier this month.

And finally, Habersham Central linebacker Garrett Kinsey is joining his brother, Viking receiver Mason Kinsey, after a high school career that saw him named his team’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Here is a look at each of the 2018 Berry football recruits:

Joel Alcarez

(OL, 6-4, 265, Rutledge, Ga., Morgan County High School)

Earning an All-Region selection at Morgan County, Alcarez will join the Vikings after serving as a four-year starter on the Bulldogs’ offensive line. The two-year captain was also selected to compete in the FCA All-Star game.

The son of Tonya and Rick Alcarez, Joel plans to major in marketing.

 

Bailey Armstrong

(DB, 5-10, 165, Taylorsville, Ga., North Cobb Christian School)

An All-Region and Defensive Player of the Year selection at North Cobb Christian, Armstrong joins the Vikings after a strong career for the Eagles.

The son of Tina and Charley Armstrong, Bailey plans to major in marketing.

 

Cole Beitzel

(LB, 5-11, 220, Eastanollee, Ga., Stephens County High School)

A first-team All-Region selection out of Stephens County, Beitzel joins the Vikings after leading his team to a sweet 16 appearance. He also earned the team’s Captain Award and Best Defensive Player honor. During his senior year, he collected 147 tackles and eight sacks.

The son of Susan and Sid Beitzel, Cole plans to major in exercise science.

 

Andy Bickford

(H-Back, 6-3, 225, Marietta, Ga., Lassiter High School)

An All-Region and All-State selection during his senior year, Bickford joins Berry after a four-year prep career at Lassiter High School.

The son of Carn and Paul Bickford, Andy plans on majoring in business.

 

Luke Birk

(DB, 6-2, 175, Windermere, Fla., Foundation Academy)

The Lions’ single-season interception record holder joins the Vikings after a strong career at Foundation Academy. A four-year varsity starter, Birk was selected first-team All-State during his senior year, leading the state in interceptions. He also led the team to a pair of district titles and competing in the Shrine All-Star Bowl.

The son of Jennifer and Steve Birk collected 59 tackles, eight interceptions and three tackles for a loss during his senior year. He plans to major in exercise science.

 

J.C. Burkett

(LB, 5-11, 220, Rome, Ga., Armuchee High School)

A local product out of Armuchee, Burkett joins the Vikings after four straight All-Area selections and three defensive MVP honors. Also a three-time All-Region selection, he was selected to the Northwest Georgia All-Star game during his senior year. Over his career, he collected 332 tackles, 24 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles.

The son of Terri and Chad Burkett, J.C. plans to major in animal science.

 

Kyle Carrera

(OL, 6-2, 270, Fairburn, Ga., Landmark Christian School)

Carrera joins Berry after a standout career at Landmark Christian, including three All-Region nods. He also appeared in three Elite Classic All-Star games and helped his team to three playoff appearances. The four-year starter was also a team captain during his senior year.

The son of Freddye Churbock and Jason Carrera, Kyle plans to major in business.

 

Josh Chatman

(DB, 6-0, 185, Toomsboro, Ga., John Milledge Academy)

In just two season on the football team, Chatman collected a slew of accolades including an All-Region selection both years and an All-Star nod. He also led the Trojans to a state title during his junior year. Chatman ranks top-10 in school history in both sacks and tackles for a loss. A decorated weightlifter, he won the 2018 state weightlifting title as well.

The son of Merilyn and Rod Chatman, Josh plans to major in exercise science.

 

Connor Cheyunski

(LB, 6-0, 220, Apex, N.C., Middle Creek High School)

A three-time All-Conference selection, Cheyunski joins the Vikings after a standout career for the Middle Creek Mustangs. He served as a team captain during his junior and senior seasons, leading his team to a pair of state final four appearances.

The son of Meghan and Adam Cheyunski, Connor plans to major in nursing.

 

TJ Ciresi

(WR, 6-1, 175, Jacksonville, Fla., University Christian School)

A two-time All-Conference selection and state champion, Ciresi joins the Vikings after a strong career at University Christian.

The son of Kristy and Frank Ciresi, TJ plans on majoring in sociology. His brother, Trey, will graduate this weekend as one of the top wide-outs in Berry football history.

 

Sage Costen

(K/P, 5-9, 160, Winston Salem, N.C., Ronald Reagan High School)

A three-sport prep athlete also competing in soccer and diving, Costen joins Berry after earning All-Conference honors in the pool at Ronald Reagan High. During his sophomore year, he also set the single-season school scoring record on the soccer team with 21 goals in just 22 games. Costen also collected on 80% of his field goals during his senior year.

The son of Jessica and Jade Costen, Sage plans to major in business.

 

Alex Dalton

(H-Back, 6-2, 190, Konxville, Tenn., Christian Academy of Knoxville)

A three-sport prep also competing in basketball and track, Dalton joins the Vikings after collecting over 2,000 all-purpose yards during his career including 20 touchdowns and four interceptions.

The son of Felicia and Tony Dalton, Alex plans to major in engineering.

 

Alex Davis

(DL, 6-2, 220, Atlanta, Ga., Mountain View High School)

A two-sport prep also competing in basketball, David joins the Vikings after serving as a team captain for Mountain View during his senior year.

The son of Kid and Freeman Davis, Alex plans to major in early childhood education.

 

Alec Earp

(K, 5-6, 140, Ringgold, Ga., McCallie School)

Earp was a three-sport prep at the McCallie School also competing in wrestling and lacrosse, serving four years on the McCallie varsity football squad.

He is the son of Kathy and Russell Earp.

 

Roggi Garcia

(OL, 6-2, 270, Kennesaw, Ga., Harrison High School)

Leading his team to two straight playoff appearances, Garcia helped anchor the Hoya offensive line that went 19-6 over his final two years. Also competing on the Harrison wrestling team, Garcia helped lead his team to a regional title during the 2017 season.

The son of Isabel and Roggi Garcia, he plans to major in business.

 

Connor Gates

(OL, 6-1, 260, Acworth, Ga., Kell High School)

A four-year letterman for the Longhorns, Gates joins the Vikings as a two-time All-County and All-Region selection. During his senior year, he was selected as the Kell Offensive Lineman of the Year and was a three-time Cobb County Touchdown Club Offensive Lineman of the Week. He led Kell to a region title during his junior year and competed in the state playoffs all four years.

Connor is the son of Kristen and Steve Gates.

 

Devin Grier

(RB, 5-11, 180, Lawrenceville, Ga., Discovery High School)

A three-sport prep also competing in track and basketball, Grier joins the Vikings after a strong career at Discovery including an All-Region selection. A team captain during his senior season, he racked up 101 tackles during his career including four interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.

The son of Stacy and Kevin Grier, Devin plans to major in environmental engineering and will join his brother Kevin on the team next year.

 

Robert Johnson II

(RB, 5-8, 160, Warner Robins, Ga., First Presbyterian Day School)

Competing in four sports including soccer, basketball and track, Johnson will arrive at Berry with a decorated resume under his belt. An All-Region selection during his senior year, Johnson collected over 600 all-purpose yards during his final season.

The son of Latressa and Robert Johnson, Sr., he plans to major in nursing.

 

Cole Keener

(WR, 5-11, 160, Clayton, Ga., Rabun County High School)

Earning All-State honors at both wide receiver and defensive back, Keener is set to join the Vikings after a strong career at Rabun County. He led the team to four straight regional championships including a state runner-up finish during his senior year. Keener is the first Wildcat to amass over 1,000 receiving yards, holding single-season records in receiving yards and interceptions.

Cole is the son of Rhonda Chastain and Robbie Keener.

 

Cade Kennemore

(WR, 5-9, 155, South Pittsburg, Tenn., South Pittsburg High School)

A three-sport prep also competing in baseball and basketball, Kennemore joins the Vikings after a four-year varsity career at South Pittsburg High School. Finding himself on the All-Region squad three straight years including an All-State selection during his junior season, Kennemore led his team to four-straight conference championships and state playoff appearances.

Cade is the son of Tracey and Trace Kennemore.

 

Garrett Kinsey

(LB, 5-11, 205, Demorest, Ga., Habersham Central High School)

Set to join his brother Mason on the Berry football team, Kinsey joins the Vikings sporting a Habersham Defensive Player of the Year honor during his career.

The son of Janet and Shane Kinsey, Garrett plans to major in pre-law.

 

Malik LeBlanc

(DB, 5-9, 170, Douglasville, Ga., Chapel Hill High School)

An All-County and All-Region selection out of Chapel Hill, LeBlanc led his team to two consecutive state playoff appearances during his junior and senior seasons. He collected 103 tackles, eight interceptions, six forced fumbles and over 1,200 return yards during his career.

The son of Roshondra and John Leblanc, Malik plans on majoring in engineering.

 

Jake Lewis

(DL, 6-2, 240, Smyrna, Ga., Whitefield Academy)

A two-sport athlete also competing in baseball, Lewis joins the Vikings out of Whitefield Academy.

The son of Jaymie and Jody Lewis, Jake plans to major in communications.

 

Michael Luckie

(WR, 6-0, 185, Kennesaw, Ga., Kell High School)

A two-sport prep athlete also competing in lacrosse, Luckie joins the Vikings after collecting a slew of accolades at Kell High. He was an All-State selection as a wide receiver and punter during his senior year and was selected as the Kell Wide Receiver of the Year. Leading his team to three regional championships, Luckie was also selected to compete in the Cobb County All-Star game.

The son of Jennifer and Richard Luckie amassed 79 receptiong for 1,275 yards and 12 touchdowns during his career.

 

Ben Prescott

(DL, 6-0, 240, Evans, Ga., Evans High School)

A two-time All-County selection including an All-Region and All-Area nod during his senior year, Prescott is set to join Berry’s defensive unit after a strong prep career. He led his team to a regional title during his senior year, competing on the highest scoring team in school history. Prescott was also a two-time CSRA All-Star game participant and totaled 85 tackles and 5.5 sacks during his career.

The son of Lana and Lee Prescott, Ben plans to major in exercise science.

 

Griff Pruitt

(LB, 6-0, 175, Toccoa, Ga., Stephens County High School)

Pruitt brings a decorated resume to Berry. As a prep, he earned team defensive MVP honors, was the WNEG Player of the Year, a team captain and an All-Region selection. He helped his team to a state playoff appearance three consecutive years and also led the Stephens County baseball team to the elite eight.

Griff is the son of Jackie and Steve Pruitt.

 

Ryan Quinn

(OL, 6-3, 260, Sharpsburg, Ga., Northgate High School)

Serving as a team captain during his senior year, Quinn joins Berry after a three-year varsity career at Northgate High School.

The son of Karen and Scott Quinn, Ryan plans to major in creative technology.

 

Grant Richardson

(LB, 6-1, 215, Knoxville, Tenn., Christian Academy of Knoxville)

A two-time All-Conference and 2017 first team All-State selection, Richardson joins the Vikings after a standout career at the Christian Academy of Knoxville. Richardson collected 117 tackles, 23 tackles for a loss, three sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries during his senior year. At the conclusion of the year, he was selected as the team defensive MVP.

Grant is the son of Lauren and Mike Richardson.

 

Nathaniel Robertson

(LB, 6-0, 175, Jacksonville, Fla., University Christian School)

A two-sport athlete also competing in cross country, Robertson joins the Vikings out of University Christian School. He is the son of Joy and David Robertson. He will join his brother Nick who is also an incoming freshman.

 

Nick Robertson

(OL, 6-1, 275, Jacksonville, Fla., University Christian High School)

A four-year varsity participant at University Christian, Robertson joins the Vikings after leading his team to two straight state titles during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He also served as a team captain during his junior and senior seasons.

The son of David Robertson, Nick plans on majoring in sports administration. He will join his brother Nathaniel who is also an incoming freshman.

 

Jordan Roman

(LB, 5-11, 215, Loganville, Ga., Archer High School)

A four-year Scholar Athlete at Archer, Roman joins the Vikings after earning All-State honors for the Tigers. Also a recipient of the Vince Dooley Award, he led his team to three regional titles.

The son of Maria and David Roman, Jordan plans on majoring in exercise science.

 

Austin Schriver

(RB, 5-11, 185, Peachtree City, Ga., Starr’s Mill High School)

A two-time first-team All-County selection out of Starr’s Mill, Schriver led his team to three straight playoff appearances including an elite eight finish during his senior year.

The son of Lynn Schriver, Austin plans to major in economics.

 

Jake Seeger

(DL, 6-2, 225, Soddy Daisy, Tenn., Soddy Daisy High School)

Seeger comes to Berry after a strong career at Soddy Daisy, culminating in an All-Region and defensive MVP selection. He totaled 93 tackles, 21 tackles for a loss and eight sacks during his senior year, serving as a team captain.

The son of Stacy and Steve Seeger, Jake plans to major in engineering.

 

Jalen Simmons

(WR, 6-0, 170, Atlanta, Ga., Westlake High School)

Simmons will join the Vikings after leading the Westlake Lions to three regional titles. Also a South Fulton All-Star and East-West All-Star selection, Simmons served as a team captain during his senior year.

The son of Estelita and Jon Simmons, Jalen plans on majoring in exercise science.

 

Janson Slaughter

(WR, 6-3, 175, Cedartown, Ga., Unity Christian School)

A local product competing for Unity Christian, Slaughter will join Berry after earning All-Region and All-State honors during his senior year. He had 67 reception for 1,105 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior year and was selected to play in the 2018 GICAA State All-Star Game.

The son of Ginger and Jason Slaughter, Janson plans to major in business.

 

David Sloan

(H-Back, 6-0, 195, Lilburn, Ga., Providence Christian Academy)

A two-sport prep also competing in baseball, Sloan brings a decorated resume to Berry. A two-time All-Region selection, he earned five total Gwinnett Touchdown Club Player of the Month Awards and was selected as the team defensive MVP during his senior year. Sloan holds the single-season record with 106 tackles during his senior campaign, also earning eight tackles for a loss. Also competing on the offensive side of the ball, Sloan hauled in 16 catches for 171 yards in addition to 305 rushing yards.

David is the son of Katherine and Greg Sloan.

 

Griffen Swicegood

(DB, 6-1, 180, Knoxville, Tenn., Farragut High School)

Leading his team to three straight state playoff appearances including a state championship during his junior year, Swicegood joins the Vikings after a standout career for the Admirals. He served as a team captain during his senior year.

The son of Gretchen and Luke Swicegood, Griffen plans to major in finance.

 

Chad Tew

(DL, 6-3, 265, Hoover, Ala., Hoover High School)

Leading his team to a pair of state championships, Tew joins the Vikings after a standout career at Hoover High School. The three-year varsity member also served as a team captain during his junior and senior seasons.

Chad is the son of Amy and Cary Tew.

 

Jonathan Walk

(WR, 5-10, 160, Acworth, Ga., Allatoona High School)

Also a standout track athlete, Walk joins the Vikings after an impressive career at Allatoona High School. He led his team to the elite eight during his senior year, where he won regional titles in a pair of track events.

The son of Shaunda and Dee walk, Jonathan plans to major in business.

 

TJ Watkins

(WR, 5-11, 160, Rome, Ga., Pepperell High School)

A standout local product out of Pepperell High School, Watkins joins the Vikings after three All-Region selections and a regional title during his junior year. Leading his team to a pair of state playoff appearances, Watkins was also selected to the Elite Classic All-Star game during his senior year when he served as a team captain.

 

Trace Wells

(WR, 6-0, 185, Winder, Ga., Winder-Barrow High School)

Serving as a team captain during his senior year, Wells joins the Vikings after a three-year career at Winder-Barrow. During his senior year, he averaged 16.1 yards per catch.

The son of Carla and Michael Wells, Trace plans on majoring in sports communication.

 

Jake Weitkamp

(LB, 6-0, 230, Woodstock, Ga., Etowah High School)

A decorated linebacker out of Etowah High joins the Vikings after a standout prep career for the Eagles. Weitkamp was selected to the first team All-Region and All-County teams during his senior year, capped by a defensive MVP honor. He collected 255 tackles, 12 sacks, an interception and defensive touchdown over his career, serving as a team captain during his senior year.

The son of Cheri and Roger Weitkamp, Jake plans to major in economics.

 

Jordan Wilson

(DB, 5-11, 165, Dallas, Ga., Hiram High School)

A two-sport prep also competing in track, Wilson joins the Vikings after earning an All-Region selection in football and qualifying for state in the 400m for the Hiram track team.

Jordan is the son of Yolinda and Derrick Wilson.