The Valparaiso University football team added to its crop of incoming recruits by announcing 40 additions to the program for the 2020 season on Wednesday. After previously announcing 13 signees on Dec. 18, head coach Landon Fox has his first full recruiting class up to 53 student-athletes.
“It’s important for us to have student-athletes who excel in the classroom, first and foremost,” Fox said. “This decision impacts not only their four-year degree, but also their future career. Our University can create opportunities for them once they are done going to school here and playing football. The next factor was to build off the foundation that the current team has laid. The key is to continue to build talent and depth. It was important to bring in playmakers, especially at positions where guys will have the football in their hands.
“The depth that we are bringing in will create competition and that competition brings out the best in all of us. That’s one of our core values, trying to be the best we can be every single day. Competition makes us better individually and collectively. We’re bringing in players who come from winning programs and understand what it takes to win. They can continue to help us create our culture and the commitment that it takes to win football games.
“We want guys who can play the game of football, and we’ll find spots for them. When we evaluate on film, we’re looking for guys who can excel on the field, not necessarily always the fastest 40 time or the highest vertical. We’re excited about our signees as students, as football players and as people. You win with people, so we’re looking for student-athletes who understand who we are and fit with what this program is all about. We’re excited to get them on campus to get started as part of our team.
“This is a large class because our program philosophy is that we want to get to the 110-player maximum of Division-I FCS football. We will have a chance to get experience for young players while building the program’s depth for both the present and future.”
Joshua Becton, WR/DB/RS, 5-8, 140, Kansas City, Kan. (F.L. Schlagle)
A four-year varsity letter winner on the gridiron, Becton also earned three prep letters in basketball and three in track & field. He served as a football team captain for the final three seasons of his high school tenure.
The son of Lisa Waddy and James Becton, Joshua has three sisters – Shanice Palmer, Leatrice Palmer and Jada Becton. The National Honor Society member plans to major in business at Valpo.
Brian Robinson, RB, 5-8, 185, Charlotte, N.C. (Mallard Creek)
A three-year varsity letter winner, Robinson helped his team to a 10-1-1 record during his senior season. The son of Lisa and Bruce, Robinson also competed in track & field during his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He has one brother, Brevin, and one sister, Bailee. Robinson’s father played college football at South Carolina State.
In addition, Robinson has succeeded in the classroom, where he’s an honor roll student and plans to major in computer science at Valpo.
Carter Woody, OL, 6-3, 305, Fort Mill, S.C. (Charlotte Catholic)
A four-year varsity letter winner in football, Woody also earned four varsity letters in rugby. On the football field, he was a team captain, scholar athlete and honors student. Woody helped his team to a 56-6 record during his high school tenure including a seven-overtime victory over King’s Mountain High School in a postseason game.
The son of Tonya and Douglas, Woody has two brothers: Ben (22) and Evan (19). He intends to major in sport management at Valpo.
Joey Richmond, RB, 5-11, 210, Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Glenbard West)
As a two-year varsity performer, Richmond helped Glenbard West to a 10-1 record while earning all-conference, academic all-state and all-area honorable mention. He had 13 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a game against Maine South that ranked among the highlights of his prep tenure.
Richmond is the son of Joe Richmond Sr. and Wynter Evans and has four brothers and a sister. He is a three-sport athlete in high school, having also competed in four years of basketball and baseball. The incoming Valpo signee has thrived in the classroom as well, earning all-state academic, AP scholar with distinction, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society and honor roll. At Valpo, he intends to pursue a degree in civil engineering.
Alex Carrillo, DB/RB, 5-9, 165, Plainfield, Ill. (Nazareth Academy)
A three-year varsity letter winner, Carrillo is a two-time all-conference honoree and a three-time state finalist. He was part of the 2019 Nazareth Academy team that won the Illinois state championship.
The son of Yesinia and Roberto, Carrillo has a pair of brothers, Rob (24) and Cristian (22) and a sister, Katherine (5). The 2019 football team captain also thrived academically, earning academic all-state recognition in both 2018 and 2019. Carrillo, who has also wrestled since age 5, plans to study business at Valpo.
Michael Foggie, LB, 5-11, 190, Chicago, Ill. (Mount Carmel)
Foggie earned two varsity letters in football while also garnering two letters apiece in rugby and track & field during his prep days. He enjoyed a 15-tackle game against Providence during his sophomore season before taking part in an unblemished 2019 run that saw Mount Carmel go 14-0 en route to the state title.
The son of Salonia and Michael, Foggie’s family also includes 16-year-old sister Mikayla. Foggie was a team captain during his senior season and earned high honors in the classroom. He plans to major in accounting.
Garner Jones, WR, 5-9, 165, Brentwood, Tenn. (Brentwood)
Jones was a team captain and all-region honorable mention selection while helping his team to a 10-3 record. He competed in wrestling for all four years of high school and spent two seasons as a member of the track & field team. He was a team captain in both football and wrestling as a senior.
Jones’ family includes parents Valerie and Amos, his brother Lincoln (22) and his sister Katherine (19). Lincoln competed in track & field and cross country at Abilene Christian University from 2016-2019. A three-year varsity letter winner in football, Jones is a member of National Honor Society and plans to study marketing upon his arrival on Valpo’s campus.
Tytus Ragle, WR, 5-8, 170, New Castle, Ind. (New Castle)
Ragle spent three years on the varsity football team in high school while also competing in wrestling all four years. He was a football team captain in 2019 and a wrestling captain in both 2018 and 2019.
Ragle, who intends to study biology/chemistry in college, has earned academic all-conference and academic all-state honors. Other accolades he achieved during his time on the prep gridiron include all-conference, Team MVP and Breakout Athlete of the Year awards.
Ragle’s family includes parents Christy and Will and brother Trevor (21). His father Will wrestled at Manchester University.
Adam Mekky, LB, 6-1, 200, Mount Prospect, Ill. (Prospect)
Mekky was a three-year letter winner in football while achieving all-conference status and all-area honorable mention twice each. He also competed in track & field for three years.
A captain as a senior, Mekky was a four-time honor roll student. His family includes parents Michelle and Sam and sister Hannah (15). At Valpo, Mekky plans to study sports management.
Sam Hafner, LB/DE, 6-2, 225, Green Bay, Wis. (De Pere)
Hafner was a three-year varsity letter winner in football and also owns three letters in lacrosse and one in wrestling. A first-team all-conference honoree as a junior and senior, Hafner was named his team’s defensive MVP in each of those seasons.
A team captain in football for two years and a one-year captain in lacrosse, Hafner made honor roll and received an academic letter during his junior year. The final home football game of his senior season provided a memorable evening, as he finished with 22 tackles, two blocked field goals, a blocked punt and a tackle for loss.
Hafner’s great aunt Louise Erickson played professional women’s basketball for three years (Racine Belles and Rockford Peaches). He is the son of Kristin and Rance Hafner and has two brothers – Max (15) and Jake (13) – and one sister – Kate (11). He intends to major in biology at Valpo.
Nick Price, DE, 6-1, 215, Merrillville, Ind. (Merrillville)
A local to Northwest Indiana, Price won two varsity letters while playing for the Merrillville Pirates. He earned all-conference, first-team all-area and Region 1 All-Star recognition. He was a two-year track & field athlete as well and was a football team captain in 2019.
The son of Darnisha and Nicholas and the brother of Halle (14), Price plans to major in computer engineering after earning high academic honors at Merrillville.
Zykee Bogan, DB, 5-10, 180, Warner Robins, Ga. (Houston County)
A three-year varsity letter winner, Bogan’s list of accolades includes Region 1 6A Honorable Mention, Hawaii Tiki Bowl All-American, Florida vs. Georgia All-American, NUC All-American, an Offense vs. Defense selection, team captain and overachiever award.
Bogan was a team captain as a junior and senior and was a two-sport athlete early in his prep days, also competing in track & field during his freshman and sophomore seasons. His family includes mother Zakariya Jones, sister Jaka Brown (25) and three brothers – Alonzo Wheeler (21), Hyson Holiday (19) and Kingston Bogan (8).
After earning scholar-athlete recognition and four years of academic honors, Bogan is set to major in mechanical engineering at Valpo.
Darius Lane, RB, 5-10, 180, Stephens City, Va. (Sherando High School)
A two-year varsity letter winner on the gridiron, Lane also won two varsity letters in basketball and three in track & field. He helped his team to a 7-4 record, accruing over 1,600 rushing yards, 27 touchdowns, 24 receptions, 278 receiving yards and two receiving TDs.
Lane’s family features mother Tiffany and father Jerron, plus 20-year-old sister Davina, who is a member of the George Mason University track & field program. His father played football and basketball at Muhlenberg College in the early 1990s.
A member of the straight-A honor roll in high school, Lane has selected civil engineering as his course of study at Valpo.
Dalton Guthrie, RB, 6-0, 190, Aurora, Ind. (South Dearborn)
Guthrie earned four varsity letters in football and three in track & field during his prep tenure. He played in 31 career games, accruing 2,259 rushing yards on 336 carries and rushing for 33 touchdowns. He tacked on 45 catches, 448 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns and totaled 2,849 all-purpose yards.
Guthrie was an all-conference choice and was named his team’s most valuable back as a senior. He was also a Cincinnati Enquirer Athlete of the Week, a two-time Tri-State Football player of the week, a Beacon Orthopedics Primetime Player of the Week and a conference-player of the week. He scored five touchdowns in a single game, shattering a school record. He rushed for 298 yards in the five-score showing.
The son of Laura and Jeremy and the brother of Alexis, Guthrie intends to major in business.
Josh Vargas, DB, 5-10, 180, Tinley Park, Ill. (Lincoln Way East)
Vargas spent three years playing varsity football while also competing in one year of wrestling and three of track & field. He was an all-conference and all-area selection while helping his team to an impressive 54-1 record during his four-year tenure.
Vargas was a four-year member of the honor roll and plans to major in sports management at Valpo. He is the son of Jennifer and David Vargas and has three brothers – Alex (26), Zach (22) and David (18) and one sister – Alaina (12). Zach played football at Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2017 and Alex wrestled at Iowa from 2012-2015.
Mitchell Knotek, K, 5-10, 140, Richfield, Ohio (Trinity)
Knotek earned two varsity letters in football plus four in soccer and one in basketball. He was a three-year soccer captain and a member of his school’s honor roll.
The son of Suzanne and Gerald, Knotek has two brothers, Gerry (21) and Jackson (13) and a sister, Sarah (8). He plans to major in finance at Valpo.
Cam Livingston, WR, 6-3, 180, Leo, Ind. (Leo Jr/Sr. HS)
A four-year member of the varsity football team and three-year letter winner, Livingston led his team to a 10-2 record to highlight a total mark of 36-14 during his prep career. He earned all-conference honors.
A three-year honor roll member and member of National Honor Society, Livingston was a captain during his senior season. He also played basketball as a freshman and baseball for his first two prep campaigns.
Livingston, who plans to major in business, is the son of Christie and Robert and has a brother, Landen (16) and a sister, Ellie (14). Robert was a wide receiver at Butler from 1990-1994 and Livingston’s grandfather Brian was a linebacker at Ohio State from 1964-1968.
Trey Hayes, WR, 5-10, 175, Sterling, Va. (Dominion)
A four-year varsity letter winner, Hayes earned all-region honors and helped his team to a total record of 24-16. He had four rushing touchdowns and 280 yards in his top individual game.
Hayes, who also played basketball as a freshman and sophomore, was a football captain as a senior. He was a member of his school’s honor roll as a junior and is expected to major in business finance at Valpo. He is the son of Silvana Simonson and JT Hayes and has a 15-year-old sister, Amanda Hayes.
Keith Szczepanski, OL, 6-7, 345, Batavia, N.Y. (Batavia Notre Dame)
A four-year varsity letter winner in football, Szczepanski also won four letters in basketball and three in track & field. He was a two-time first team all-state honoree at the left tackle position and won a sectional title in the discus.
Szczepanski, a team captain in both basketball and football, was a member of the high honor roll. He is the son of Debi and Keith and has a sister, Julia (15). At Valpo, he’ll pursue a political science degree.
Christian Day, DB, 6-0, 175, Downingtown, Pa. (Downingtown East / Valley Forge Military College)
A three-year varsity letter winner in football and two-year letter winner in track & field, Day went to Valley Forge Military College out of high school before joining Valpo’s program. He was a first-team all-conference honoree during his prep days, when he was a team captain as a senior.
Day’s Valpo plans include majoring in communication. He is the son of Megan and Chris Day and has a brother – Bryce (6) – and three sisters – Olivia (16), Morgan (13) and Cassidy (10). Day’s mother played college basketball at Villanova and his father played football and ran track at West Chester University.
Micah Tillman, LB, 6-1, 225, Pittsburgh, Pa. (The Kiski School)
Tillman comes to Northwest Indiana after twice earning defensive MVP honors in high school. He was a two-year captain in addition to spending a year as a captain on the basketball court, part of a three-year prep career on the hardwood. He also competed in track & field for three seasons.
Tillman is an honor roll student whose family includes mother Monica, father Tyrone and brothers Gabe (28) and Tyrone (32). He intends to study biology.
Tyler Eberhart, OL, 6-2, 250, Barberton, Ohio (Barberton)
A three-year varsity letter winner and a four-year member of the varsity football team, Eberhart helped his team to two Suburban League runner-up finishes and a pair of Suburban League titles during his four-year prep tenure. As a sophomore in 2017, his team went 12-1 and was a regional runner-up.
Eberhart’s long list of accolades also includes two-time first team all-Suburban League, second team all-district, 2019 Albie Litwak Award, 2019 Team Offensive Lineman of the Year, Thanks4giving Senior All-Star Game starter and captain, 2018 Coaches’ Award and 2016 Freshman Football MVP.
He also competed in track & field and basketball in high school and was a team captain in all three sports. Eberhart’s academic honors include a perfect score on the science section of the ACT, academic all-conference all four years, senior class president, National Honor Society member, Student Council member and National Merit Scholarship contestant.
Eberhart’s family includes parents Megann and Mike and sisters Elise (15) and Claire (10). He plans to major in mechanical engineering at Valpo.
Marvin Rushing, DB, 5-9, 175, Detroit, Mich. (Cass Technical)
Rushing played two years of varsity football in addition to three years of track & field in high school. He helped his team to a 10-1 mark in 2018 and a 7-5 record in 2019. Rushing registered the team’s Defensive Back Leadership award.
A member of the honor roll from 2016-2020, Rushing is the son of Maya and Marvin and has two siblings: sister Milla (12) and brother Nick (11 months). His father played football at Eastern Michigan from 1993-1998.
Luke Patterson, WR, 6-1, 180, Valparaiso, Ind. (Valparaiso)
Patterson will remain in his hometown for his collegiate career as the Valparaiso High School product won three varsity letters for the Vikings. During his senior season, he helped the team to a 13-1 record while earning all-state, all-conference and academic all-state honors and serving as a team captain.
The honor roll member had 120 yards and two touchdowns in a game against Portage to highlight his senior season. He also participated in Unified Track & Field as a senior. Patterson’s parents are Kate and Brad and his family also features brother Ben (19) and sister Emma (21).
Joshua Gholston, DB/WR, 6-1, 170, Blacksburg, Va. (Blacksburg)
Gholston was a four-year varsity letter winner and also played four years of basketball and three of track & field. He was a team captain on both the hardwood and gridiron as a senior. His football accolades include first team all-district, second team all-region and Roanoke Times Player to Watch List.
Gholston’s team totaled a 41-13 record during his high school career. He achieved several academic accolades including Senior of the Month, DECA state qualifier and national qualifier. His family includes parents Nicole and Kendrick and sister Adiah (20). His sister ran track at Virginia Tech and his father played football at Louisville before playing in the NFL for the Cowboys, Lions and Rams. Joshua plans to major in marketing at Valpo.
Charlie Maxwell, WR/DB/RS/LS, 5-6, 145, Elkhart, Ind. (Elkhart Christian Academic / Osceola Grace)
Maxwell is a four-year letter winner in football and has three letters in basketball, three (soon to be four) in track & field and one in baseball. He owns program records for all-purpose yards (career and single season), touchdowns, interceptions, return yards (season and career), return touchdowns (season and career) and receiving yards (career).
In 2019-20, he was a USFA First Team All-American, playing in a game in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Maxwell’s other awards include NHFH first team All-American, first team all-conference and team offensive MVP. He finished with over 4,000 all-purpose yards, 36 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and 204 tackles in his career, which saw his team go 33-12 and earn three regular season and two tournament championships.
Maxwell was an Indiana indoor all-state track & field performer in 2018 and 2019, an indoor state qualifier in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and an outdoor track regional qualifier in each of his first three seasons. An honor roll member all four years, Maxwell plans to study criminology at Valpo. His family includes parents Samantha and Ross and nine siblings. Cousin Brady Ewing has played in the NFL for the Falcons and Jaguars and great grand uncle Charles Maxwell played baseball for the Red Sox, Orioles, Tigers and White Sox.
Trent Miller, DE, 6-1, 220, Gibsonia, Pa. (Pine-Richland)
A three-year varsity letter winner, Miller was a team captain as a senior and helped his team total a 35-8 record throughout his career.
He also competed in track & field as a junior and senior and was an honor roll member throughout high school. The son of Allison and Travis, Miller has a sister, Claire (16). His intended major at Valpo is mechanical engineering.
Connor Milks, WR, 6-4, 185, Wantage, N.J. (Pope John XXIII H.S.)
Milks was on the varsity football team for three years and won two letters. He received the following honors in 2019: All-Herald Football Second Team, Super Football Conference All-Division Award Second Team and Catholic League Football Award First Team.
Milks, who also played lacrosse as a freshman, was an honor roll member throughout high school. His parents are Tracy and Don and he has a sister, Lauren (20)
Kenyon Turner, DB/WR, 5-9, 165, Chicago, Ill. (Marist)
Turner played two years of varsity football and also competed in track & field. He went 8-5 and helped his team to the state semifinals. A football captain in 2016, Turner is the son of Marsia Wright and Kevin Turner and has three siblings – Javon Wright (25), Gina Turner (32) and Karyn Turner (29). He hopes to pursue physical therapy at Valpo.
Mason Maple, H-Back/Punter, 6-1, 205, Valparaiso, Ind. (Valparaiso)
Maple has elected to remain in his home town to play his college football after spending two years on the varsity football team at Valpo High. He earned all-conference honors during his team’s 13-1 campaign this past fall.
Maple played basketball as a freshman, is an honor roll student and plans to major in finance. His parents are Heather and Jeremy Maple and he has two sisters, Madelyn (9) and Myah (7).
Josh Leathers, OL, 6-2, 250, Streamwood, Ill. (Streamwood)
Leathers was a three-year letter winner, three-year starter, two-year captain, two-year all-conference honoree and one-time all-area choice during his prep career. He also earned two letters in wrestling and two in track & field.
The son of Donalea and Terry Leathers, Josh has two brothers, Dakota (17) and Tyler (23). He is a member of the high honor roll and plans to pursue a mechanical engineering degree.
James Doerer, LB, 6-1, 215, Grosse Pointe, Mich. (Grosse Pointe South)
Doerer was a two-year letter winner in football while also picking up a track & field letter. He was a first-team all-conference, first team all-area, all-state and Dream Team pick as a senior after earning second-team all-conference, honorable mention all-area and third-team Dream Team as a junior.
The 2019 team captain also played baseball as a freshman and sophomore. In the classroom, he compiled a 3.85 GPA and was a part of National Honor Society and National Spanish Honor Society. The son of Laura and John and the brother of Jack (19), Doerer’s college plans involve a degree in communication.
Jon Stone, OL, 6-6, 315, Frankenmuth, Mich. (Frankenmuth)
A two-year varsity letter winner in football while also picking up a letter in wrestling and three in track & field, Stone was a two-time all-conference, two-time Detroit Free Press all-state and one-time Associated Press All-State honoree. In addition, he earned two all-advertiser, one all-area, one dream team and one Coaches Association all-state nod.
Stone’s teams totaled a record of 17-5 during his high school tenure. He was a team captain in 2019 and posted a 3.52 grade point average while earning a place on the honor roll. His parents are Dan and Laura, brothers are Dan (21) and Nate (19) and sister is Steph (16). Stone’s mother played volleyball at Ferris State, his brother Dan is a member of the Michigan State track & field team and Nate plays rugby at Air Force. Stone plans to major in engineering.
Diego Del Castillo, WR 6-1, 190, Murrieta, Calif. (Rancho Verde)
A three-year varsity letter winner in football, Del Castillo also earned three letters in track & field and competed in soccer. He was a team captain in both football and soccer and made his way on to his school’s honor roll by virtue of his academic performance.
Del Castillo’s parents are Christiana and Oscar and his sisters are Alexis (27) and Vanessa (31). He plans to major in business analytics.
Braden Contreras, WR, 6-2, 175, Columbus, Ohio (Hinsdale Central)
A two-year member of the varsity football team, Contreras was a two-time all-conference honoree and was named his team’s Offensive Player of the Year while also taking home second team all-state honors.
The 2019 team captain also played baseball during his first two years of high school. He hopes to major in marketing at Valpo. Contreras is the son of Kelly and Steve and has two brothers, Carter (14) and Riley (11). He also has a sister, Grayson (8) and his father Steve played football at Amherst from 1995-1999.
Henry Helgeson, WR, 6-0, 190, Anchorage, Alaska (Robert Service)
Helgeson was a three-sport athlete, winning four letters apiece in football, basketball and baseball. He was the Alaska Offensive Player of the Year as senior and was named USA Today Alaska First-Team All-State as both a junior and senior. He won the Burlsworth Character Award after helping his team to an 8-3 senior season.
A team captain in all three sports, Helgeson earned an AP Capstone Diploma after four years on the honor roll. He intends to study chemistry in college. The son of Beth and Mark, Helgeson’s family also includes sister Greta (15). His cousin Alexis Kolschefski played Division-I volleyball at Western Illinois from 2014-2017.
Gabe Lawson, QB, 6-2, 210, Cranberry Township, Pa. (Seneca Valley)
A four-year varsity letter winner, Lawson was a two-time Butler County sweet 16 pick, a second-team all-conference safety, a two-time conference finalist and finished his career with a 24-21 mark.
Lawson played four years of basketball and three years of baseball in high school. He was on the highest honor roll and plans to major in business at Valpo. Lawson’s family includes parents Jean and Jason, brother Luke (15) and sisters Brooke (19) and Maura (16). His father played baseball and basketball at William Jewell from 1989-1993.
LT Beck, QB, 6-1, 200, Burlington, Iowa (Burlington [Western Illinois])
Beck has joined Valpo’s program after starting his collegiate career at Western Illinois. He was an all-area and all-district performer in high school for each of his final two seasons. He was a three-year starter, and academic letter winner and finished second in school history in passing yards. He was his team’s Offensive MVP and holds the record for the most touchdowns in a game with five.
A 2018 team captain in high school, Beck is the son of Angel and Lance and the brother of Conner (16). He is majoring in finance.
DJ Hutcherson, DB, 6-0, 175, Leesburg, Va. (Heritage / Howard)
Started his collegiate career at Howard, where he earned Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner’s All-Academic team honors. That came after a prep tenure where he was a second team all-conference wide receiver, first team all-Loco defensive back, first team all-conference defensive back, first team all-region DB and second-team all-state DB after helping his team to an 8-4 mark.
Hutcherson, who earned two letters apiece in football and track & field, was a member of his school’s academic honor roll. He was a team captain as a senior and plans to major in finance at Valpo. The son of Monica and Dimitrius, Hutcherson has one sister, Monique.
Tyler Blizzard, WR, 5-11, 175, Purcellville, Va. (Woodgrove)
After earning one letter in football plus three in basketball and one in lacrosse during his high school days, Blizzard will continue his athletic career at the Division-I level. He earned all-district, all-region, all-state and all-loco while also claiming Receiver of the Year and Skill Player of the Year awards. His team finished with a 7-5 record.
The son of Mandy and Jeff, Blizzard has one brother – Austin (17) – and two sisters – Ally (15) and Madyson (13). He plans to pursue a degree in business.