Three local high school standouts and three intriguing transfers from FBS programs, including a former four-star prospect from UCLA, highlight the 2015 signing class for Portland State.
The Vikings signed 13 players to national letters of intent on Wednesday – commonly known as National Signing Day – but more signings could be announced in the coming days as interim head coach Bruce Barnum wraps up his first but he hopes not his only group of new Vikings.
Barnum told Viking Tales that PSU could eventually sign as many as 16 or 17 prospects to NLIs.
“We still have some potential impact players out there that will be decided in the next two weeks,” Barnum told Viking Tales. “We still have major targets. But we love who we’ve signed so far. I have a one-year gig, so I want to win games right away. I can’t build for the next guy. I took the best high school athletes for our needs and then found some guys who can step in and compete for a starting job and make an immediate impact so we don’t have depth problems.”
The biggest prize left on PSU’s board could be JUCO All-American quarterback Alex Kuresa, who signed with Brigham Young in 2011 as a dual threat quarterback, but transferred to Snow College in Utah in 2013.
This past season, Kuresa threw for 2,374 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 62.7 percent of his passes (185-295) to lead Snow to an 8-2 record. Kuresa was also Snow’s leading rusher with 592 yards on 99 carries (5.98 yards per attempt).
Kuresa, who announced his commitment to Portland State on Twitter late Tuesday night, could compete with Kieran McDonagh, Paris Penn and John Kraght for the starting quarterback job if he enrolls at PSU in time for spring practice.
Even if Kuresa doesn’t sign with Portland State, the Vikings’ future at the position is bright as they added two heralded local prospects on Wednesday – Thomas Hamilton (Oregon City) and Jonathan Boland (Parkrose High, Portland).
Does Hamilton, who moved to Oregon City last summer from Baker City, Ore., represent the future at the quarterback position for Portland State?
“You can’t coach what he is,” Barnum said of Hamilton. “He is a big-framed, strong, tall, athletic, fast student-athlete. But he is raw. He has a big arm. It looks like the quarterback position is still new to him. So he has a big upside as far as improvement.
An elite athlete, Boland could play wide receiver as well.
“All my quarterbacks are not guys I’m going to let hold a clipboard”, Barnum said of his quarterbacks. “So, if he is not the guy in two years, he is good enough and athletic enough to move somewhere else. All my quarterbacks are like that. That’s the trick at the FCS level you have to do. You can’t have four or five quarterbacks standing around. That’s a lot of scholarships.”
As a senior at Parkrose, Boland threw for 2,389 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 772 yards and nine TDs, earning honorable mention Class 5A All-State.
Barnum said the Vikings are eying ways to take advantage of Boland’s off-the-charts athleticism as a freshman in 2015.
“He played at a different speed, he’s a different athlete,” Barnum said. “It was a no-brainer. When I first met him and his parents, they are a quality family. He brings a personality that is a great fit for our team.
“He can play multiple positions because of what he does. Because we’re stockpiled at quarterbacks, he is probably to start competing at slot receiver. I’ve already talked to him about that.
The third local player signed by Portland State is running back/defensive back Chase Morrison from prep powerhouse Jesuit High School. Morrison rushed for 1,497 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior in 2014 and was named Oregon 6A second-team All-State.
“We love Chase,” Barnum said. “There are two schools you always go to in this state – Central Catholic and Jesuit. We have eight players on our teams from those two schools. We watched Chase for a couple of years. He can do multiple things. He won a lot of football games for Jesuit. He has been coached very well. He is polished. They have a heckuva coaching staff. Just like with Boland, it was a no-brainer. I wanted him on this football team. He will find a place to play.”
Besides Morrison, JUCO transfer Za’Quan Summers (Scottsdale Community College) and incoming freshman Carlos Martin (La Habra, Calif.) add quality depth and long-term stability to a running back position led by Steven Long, Nate Tago and Rey Vega in 2015.
Perhaps Portland State’s most fascinating signee might be former UCLA safety Tyler Foreman, who was rated by Rivals.com as one of the top 30 high school prospects and the ninth best defensive back in the state of California two years ago.
According to his Rivals.com profile, at least seven Pac-12 schools pursued Foreman during the recruiting process as well as Oklahoma, Boise State and multiple Big Ten schools.
Foreman redshirted in 2013 and appeared in two games in 2014 for the Bruins, making one tackle. He is a former high school teammate of PSU rising sophomore Davond Dade at Crespi Carmelite High School in Los Angeles and that connection to PSU lured Foreman to the Rose City.
Needless to say, Foreman will compete immediately for a starting safety job.
“We had 39 transfers on our board, and Tyler is one we had to get,” Barnum said. “Not just because how good he is on the field, but the quality person he is. With transfers, you have to be careful. We wanted to bring in the right person. They have to be able to fit in because the team is more important than one player. We put in a lot of work checking out guys.”
In addition, Portland State signed UNLV transfer Trent Riley and Wyoming transfer John Jackson. Both players were already familiar to Barnum as they were recruited by PSU in high school, but they chose to attend FBS schools.
Jackson, a freshman defensive tackle at Wyoming this past season, has four years of eligibility remaining, while Riley has three years left after grayshirting in 2013 and playing sparingly as a freshman last season.
Jackson was recruited heavily by Portland State for the 2014 recruiting cycle, but elected to head to Laramie instead and play for the Cowboys. Even though he planned to redshirt this past season, Jackson left the Wyoming program in October.
“We recruited him two years ago, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know him,” Barnum said. “It was easy. He is a great looking student-athlete. He is a monster of a defensive lineman. He has a great first step. But for whatever reason, he wanted to come back here. So, I said he was welcome (to join PSU).”
UNLV recently experienced a head coaching change and the 6-1, 205-pound Riley, whose brother Tanner played basketball at the University of Portland, asked for his release.
All eight junior college and FBS transfers that signed with PSU on Wednesday will be on campus for spring football practice, which begins March 31 and concludes with the annual spring game on April 25.
2015 PORTLAND STATE FOOTBALL SIGNEES
HIGH SCHOOL (5)
Jonathan Boland, QB/WR, 5-11, 190 (Portland, Ore.)
Thomas Hamilton, QB, 6-3, 220 (Oregon City, Ore.)
Carlos Martin, RB, 5-11, 200 (La Habra, Calif.)
Chase Morrison, RB/DB, 5-10, 190 (Portland, Ore.)
Charlie Taumoepeau, TE, 6-3, 265 (Federal Way, WA)
JUNIOR COLLEGE (5)
Casey Eyman, P, 6-1, 195 (Fullerton College)*
Christopher Gilchrist, WR, 6-4, 195 (Mt. SAC)*
Mosa Likio, LB, 5-11, 240 (College of San Mateo)*
Za’Quan Summers, RB, 5-9, 175 (Scottsdale CC)*
Austin Wolff, LB, 6-1, 225 (Palomar College)*
Tyler Foreman, S, 6-1, 195 (Pasadena, Calif; UCLA)*
John Jackson, DT, 6-2, 270 (Tucson, Ariz; Wyoming)*
Trent Riley, WR, 6-1, 205 (North Bend, WA; UNLV)*
* Will compete in spring football
SIGNING DAY NOTES
— Portland State returns 60 letterwinners in 2015 as the Vikings lost just 13 seniors from last year’s roster. Overall, PSU has 16 returning starters – 6 on offense, 8 on defense, 2 on special teams. The Vikings also return 22 redshirted players, giving PSU a total of 82 roster players returning from last season.
— Barnum said PSU’s biggest areas of need were safeties, linebackers, tight ends and receivers. “After that, we were going to get the best football players we could find, regardless of the position they play,” he said.
— Portland State did not sign any offensive lineman and only one defensive lineman. However, Barnum said that was intentional as the Vikings return 14 offensive lineman (although center Cornelius Edison will be difficult to replace) and 13 defensive linemen from last season. “Our numbers at defensive line are more than enough right now,” Barnum, said. “On the offensive side, we are probably overstocked. We are moving a current player to offensive line and already feel that we are three-deep on the line.”