- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis coach Mike Norvell’s first recruiting class includes a quarterback who began his career across the state.

Riley Ferguson, who left Tennessee’s team in the summer of 2014, signed with Memphis after a big season at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College. He will get a chance to compete for the right to replace Paxton Lynch, a record-setting quarterback who opted to enter the NFL draft after his junior season.

Norvell got a late start in the recruiting process after getting hired in December to replace Justin Fuente, who left to take over Virginia Tech’s program. But he liked the final results.

“We were able to get longer, able to get faster, able to get more explosive at just about every position we had across the board,” Norvell said.


Here’s what to know about Memphis’ class.

Top 25 Class?: No

Best in class: Ferguson threw for 2,942 yards and 35 touchdowns at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College this past season. He was rated as one of the nation’s top junior-college pro-style quarterback prospects.

Best of the rest: Cornerback Joshua Perry was committed to Alabama for much of the recruiting process whose 6-foot-3 frame adds height to the secondary. Offensive tackle Lio Lafaele, cornerback Jonathan Cook and defensive end Harneet Gill are three junior-college prospects with promise. Defensive end/tight end John Tate’s versatility offers plenty of potential.

Late addition: Memphis pulled a major surprise by signing Perry, who had announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he wouldn’t be signing with Alabama. Memphis recruiting coordinator Dan Lanning was a graduate assistant at Alabama this past season. Memphis coach Norvell announced Perry’s addition by tweeting, “SIGNING DAY SHOCKER!!”

One that got away: Norvell, a former Arizona State offensive coordinator, hoped to use his Arizona ties to sign defensive tackle D.J. Davdison. But the three-star recruit out of Mesa, Arizona, selected Central Florida instead.

How they’ll fit in: Norvell believes this class can improve Memphis’ overall athleticism. He said that “we were able to get longer, able to get faster, able to get more explosive at just about every position we had across the board.” Norvell also believed he added some necessary reinforcements to the secondary.

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