With three tight ends set to enter their senior seasons, Northern Arizona added a pair as part of a four-player class signed Wednesday morning, the first day of the NCAA’s new early signing period.
Bric Parmley Hudnutt of Paradise Valley in Phoenix and Jarek Schultz of Colony High School in Alaska signed national letters of intent to play for the Lumberjacks, joined by Liberty (Peoria) defensive lineman John Clark and El Camino College (California) offensive lineman Jasean Harrison.
Northern Arizona tight ends caught nine touchdown passes last season, with Jonathan Baldwin and Matthew Kempton each finishing the year with four, tying for second on the team behind Elijah Marks. Both return in 2018, potentially joined by Wallace Gonzalez as well, with Northern Arizona planning ahead for the departures at the position with the 6-3 Parmley Hudnutt and the 6-6 Schultz.
Additionally, both incoming tight ends played on the defensive side of the ball in high school, with Parmley Hudnutt also taking snaps on the offensive line and quarterback at times in his varsity career, throwing for 623 yards as a senior and 1,307 yards as a junior.
The signing of Harrison, who originally played at Rancho Verde High School an hour east of Los Angeles, looks to address the loss of long-time starting center Blake Porter. With Porter graduated, as well as back-up center Nick Davis, Northern Arizona has an opening in the middle of its offensive line. The 6-0, 280 pound Harrison played at the same junior college receiver Will Morehand arrived from in California.
Clark finished with 10 sacks, ranking eighth in Arizona’s 5A Conference, as he and the Lions reached the state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Centennial. While just one of Northern Arizona’s 10 defensive linemen listed on the two deep is a senior, Clarence Smith finished fourth on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss in his final season and the Lumberjacks recorded just 19 sacks as a team.
With Northern Arizona listing just 12 players as seniors last season, its recruiting class is expected to be smaller than it was a year ago, when the Lumberjacks added more than 30 players. The remainder of the class is expected to be announced on Feb. 7, when the traditional signing day occurs.