Tahlequah Daily Press

NSU Sports

August 7, 2012

Deaton helping NSU in recruiting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — So you thought sophomore Johnny Deaton’s role in Northeastern State football was just quarterback?

That’s his scholarship job.

He’s also become a handy recruiter.

Deaton played a key role in luring former Oklahoma State offensive lineman Michael Bowie to the Tahlequah campus, where he officially enrolled Monday.

NSU coach Kenny Evans got word of it on the way back from the school’s debut in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association media day held here at the downtown Mariott Hotel.

That’s all Evans could confirm, although it had been widely speculated Bowie had been in Tahlequah since late last week.

But being that the 6-foot-4, 320-pound left tackle that left OSU early last week after a violation of team rules has a student ID card now, it’s as safe a bet he’ll show up at Wednesday’s first practice as it is wagering there won’t be a freeze warning this week. It will be his third school after starting as a freshman at Navarro (Texas), winning a junior college national title there, and starting five games during OSU’s Big 12 championship year in 2011.

Deaton, who was with his coach here Monday, said he had talked to his former Sand Springs teammate after his release from OSU.

“I talked him up about us,” he said.

He did so knowing the five linemen who blocked for him last year were all graduated.

“There was some big-time talk between me and coach Evans,” Deaton said. “We’ve got guys with some great potential but there was no doubt he could come in here and help us from the start. I definitely stayed on (Bowie) and told us him how much he needed to be here.

“I got to click with the offense pretty quick. All those guys related to me well. Just the flow of everything gave me confidence.”

Deaton graduated from Sand Springs in 2010 and was with Bowie at OSU, a place which will have lots of ties to this year’s RiverHawks’ outfit. Deaton transferred to NSU in 2011 and was made the starter after the RiverHawks were thrashed by Nebraska-Kearney 65-10 last September.

He directed the team on a six-game win streak, including a record-setting day with Trey McVay against Harding, then into the Mineral Water Bowl in December and finished with 2,520 yards and 26 TDs.

With one big line problem all but officially solved, he looks to meshing with a group of receivers minus his primary target. McVay, who played at both Muskogee and Fort Gibson in high school, graduated after an All-America season last year.

“I’ll have much more of a voice this year. They just kind of threw me into their mix last year. Now I’m bringing other people into our system. I’m still going to try and be comfortable back there but I’m going to be the one staying on their butts now.”

Seniors Jermaine Sherman of Wagoner senior and Jahmai Coleman are the leading returning receivers stat-wise, both with just over 500 yards. Montre Nelson, at 6-5, returns for his sophomore season. He originally signed with OSU.

The best of the bunch may be Cruz Williams, who played at Louisiana Tech two seasons, took part in the RiverHawks’ spring game and led the team with over 150 yards in receptions. He had 259 yards on 15 catches in limited action at LTU two seasons ago.

Another option is Victor Johnson, another OSU original who transferred in a year ago but underwent knee rehabilitation last season. Evans thinks NSU can get two years of eligibility from him due to the injury.

“I think we’ll be more balanced in terms of who gets the ball as compared to last year with Trey,” Deaton said.

Another transfer is Prince McJunkins, the former Wagoner quarterback, in his receiving mix. McJunkins has also enrolled at NSU after a redshirt freshman season at Georgia Southern.

Evans is betting on the new mix being as good if not better than the old mix with Deaton at the helm. For one, he is healthier. He wore a glove to protect his hand against ligament damage he had suffered after becoming the starter.

“He never complained and the toughness he learned last year he’s got to continue to develop in this league especially they’ll be coming after him hard,” Evans said. “They will know who he is because of the records we set last year. But the sky’s the limit with him.”

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