Sam Houston Signs Dynamic Class of 13 for 2024 Season

Bearkats Football Featured Articles News Sam Houston Athletics Sports

Keeler Welcomes Talented High School Athletes and Transfers, Including Notable Quarterbacks

Press Release from

HUNTSVILLE – Sam Houston head coach KC Keeler announced the signing of 13 student-athletes for the upcoming 2024 season on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

The class includes 10 from the Texas high school ranks, along with a trio of transfers. The Kats focused on offensive playmakers with the signing of three quarterbacks and four wide receivers, including Central Michigan transfer
quarterbacks Jase Bauer (Central Michigan) and Hunter Watson (Iowa Western CC) and Kilgore College receiver Michael Phoenix II.

The three-day early signing period will close on Friday, December 22. The regular period will reopen in the spring semester on February 7.

Sam Houston concluded its first season in Conference USA in 2023 by winning three of its final four games, including each of its final two at Bowers Stadium. The 2023 season was the second transition year for the Kats to the FBS, meaning SHSU will be fully eligible to compete for a bowl berth in 2024.

Keeler on the class: “We are very excited about this year’s signing class. As we always do, we put an emphasis on recruiting Texas high schools and were able to land talent from across the state. We feel like we are assembling a very talented young core that will take us to the next level in FBS and Conference USA. Going forward we will continue to recruit transfers that can make an immediate impact, as well as any unsigned high school prospects we think would fit in our class. Overall, we made an emphasis on signing players we think can help produce explosive plays for us and fit who we are as a program. We also expect to add some more talent up front between now and the February signing day.”

2023 Fall High School Signees (SEE BELOW FOR BIO)
Railyn Adams • DB • 6-0 • 160 • Newton, Texas / Newton HS
DJ Bailey • QB • 5-11 • 210 • DeSoto, Texas / DeSoto HS
Marcus Field • WR • 6-4 • 190 • Lindale, Texas / Lindale HS
Dean Ford • LB • 6-0 • 225 • Houston, Texas / Morton Ranch HS
Karson Maynard • WR • 6-4 • 195 • Melissa, Texas / Melissa HS
Mitch Melton • LB • 6-2 • 225 • Conroe, Texas / Conroe HS
Fatu Mukuba • WR • 5-10 • 165 • Austin, Texas / LBJ HS
Josiah Stephens • DL • 6-3 • 260 • Spring, Texas / Willis HS
Cooper Stevens • TE • 6-3 • 220 • Cypress, Texas / Cy Fair HS
Dravon Wilson • DB • 6-0 • 180 • New Caney, Texas / New Caney HS

2023 Fall Transfers (SEE BELOW FOR BIO)
Jase Bauer • QB • R-SOPH • 6-2 • 220 • Ankeny, Iowa / Ankeny HS / Central Michigan
Michael Phoenix II • WR • R-JR • 6-2 • 200 • Conroe, Texas / Conroe HS / Kilgore College
Hunter Watson • QB • R-JR • 6-3 • 210 • Celina, Texas / Celina HS / Iowa Western CC / Arkansas-Monticello


Railyn Adams • DB • 6-0 • 160 • Newton, Texas / Newton HS

  • Three-star recruit by
  • Preseason rated by Beaumont Enterprise as No. 14 prospect in Southeast Texas for 2023
  • Scored 28 touchdowns for Newton on offense in 2022
  • Also intercepted eight passes and had 34 pass breakups in 2022
  • Named all-state three times
  • Helped lead Newton to regional championship round of state playoffs in 2022, 2023

Keeler on Adams:
“Railyn is a very gifted athlete who was a major playmaker in all phases at a great program. He has tremendous upside and potential that we believe we can unlock. He could play multiple positions in the secondary.”

DJ Bailey • QB • 5-11 • 210 • DeSoto, Texas / DeSoto HS

  • Finalist for 2023 Mr. Texas Football by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football
  • Led DHS to back-to-back Class 6A Division II state championships in 2022 and 2023
  • Led DHS to 2022 Class 6A Division II state championship
  • Completed 14 of 18 passes for 297 yards and 3 scores, rushing for another 34 yards, in 2022 state title game vs Austin Vandergrift
  • Named Offensive MVP of the 2023 state title game after completing 16 of 22 passes for 281 yards and 4 scores and rushing for another in 74-14 win over Humble Summer Creek HS
  • Threw for 7,139 yard, 89 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions as junior and senior at DHS
  • Three-star recruit by

Keeler on Bailey:
“DJ is first and foremost a winner. Two-time state champion. He can make every throw on the field. His accuracy and arm talent are second to none. We are excited to get him to Huntsville and see him as a big part of our future.”

Marcus Field • WR • 6-4 • 190 • Lindale, Texas / Lindale HS

  • Three-star recruit by
  • Hauled in 82 receptions for 1,323 yards and 15 touchdowns in prep career
  • Had 42 grabs for 779 yards and 11 scores as a junior in 2022
  • Earned second team All-District 9-4A as a junior in 2022
  • Helped LHS to regional semifinals in 2022
  • had 40 grabs for 544 yards and four scores as a senior in 2023
  • Also participated in track & field

Keeler on Field: “Marcus has a huge frame and catch radius with the ability to run by you as well. His ceiling is sky high, and he has the potential to be a
matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs.”

Dean Ford • LB • 6-0 • 225 • Houston, Texas / Morton Ranch HS

  • Unanimous 2023 First Team All-District 19-6A linebacker
  • 2022 Second Team All-District linebacker in District 19-6A
  • Named team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2023
  • Also participated in Track & Field
  • Academic All-District selection
  • Brother, Dylan, played football at Tyler JC

Keeler on Ford: “Dean is a talented linebacker who we look forward to adding to the group currently in that room. He is a willing striker and can make plays from sideline to sideline.”

Karson Maynard • WR • 6-4 • 195 • Melissa, Texas / Melissa HS

  • 2022 TSWA Class 5A second team all-state selection
  • 2023 First Team All-District 7-5A
  • 2,000 receiving yards and 38 touchdowns in two years at the varsity level
  • Hauled in 10 catches for 194 yards three touchdowns in 2023 when MHS knocked took down two-time defending state champion China Spring
  • Led Melissa HS to 2022 district title
  • Also participated in
    basketball, baseball, track
  • Member of National Honors Society
  • Father played baseball at Neosho CC

Keeler on Maynard:
“Karson is a long, athletic receiver who can make plays in all facets of the passing game. He had a very productive career and was a touchdown machine. His size will allow him to be a major redzone threat for us.”

Mitch Melton • LB • 6-2 • 225 • Conroe, Texas / Conroe HS

  • First team All-District
  • 2021 Academic All-District at DRHS
  • Part of winningest class in Conroe since 2007
  • Started high school career at Del Rio High School, joining Conroe HS for 2023 season
  • 2023 Team Tiger heart award
  • 2023 scholar-athlete award
  • Mother Kristen Melton played volleyball at St Joseph’s college

Keeler on Melton: “Mitch is a relentless and physical football player who will be a great fit in our defense. We were able to get him on campus many times during the
recruitment process since he is from right down the road, and we are excited to finally make it official.”

Fatu Mukuba • 5-10 • 165 • WT • Austin, Texas / LBJ HS

  • Part of LBJ squad in 2021 who Class 4A Division I state finals
  • 2021 All-District 13-4A second team wide receiver
  • Also took part in track & field
  • Brother, Andrew, has played 35 games safety at Clemson over the past 3 seasons and recently announced transfer to Texas

Keeler on Mukuba: “Fatu is a dynamic athlete who made a major impact in all three phases in high school. We think he can be a home run threat for us both at
receiver and as a returner. He is a guy you want with the ball in his hands.”

Josiah Stephens • DL • 6-3 • 260 • Spring, Texas / Willis HS

  • 2022 and 2023 First Team All-District 13-6A
  • 2023 Academic All-District
  • Three-star recruit by

Keeler on Stephens:
“Josiah is a force up front on the defensive line with the ability to play in multiple spots. We are excited to keep him close to home and as an early enrollee, we will be able to get a head start on his development.”

Cooper Stevens • TE • 6-3 • 220 • Cypress, Texas / Cy Fair HS

  • Two-time first team all-district tight end
  • Helped CFHS to 11-2 record as a junior, advancing to the second round of Texas state playoffs
  • As a senior, Bobcats put up 12-2 mark, advancing to the third round of the state playoffs
  • Participated in track & field, twice qualifying for the regional meet in discus
  • Three-time Academic All-District selection

Keeler on Stevens: “Cooper can do it all at the tight end position. He is a versatile blocker on and off the ball, who can also be a weapon in the passing game for us. He comes from a great program,
and we look forward to him joining ours.”

Dravon Wilson • DB • 6-0 • 180 • New Caney, Texas / New Caney HS

  • First Team All-District defensive back as a sophomore
  • Utility player of the year as a junior
  • First Team All-District wide receiver as a senior
  • Finished prep career with 79 catches for 1,126 yards and 15 touchdowns
  • Also added four interceptions, including a pick-six, a forced fumble and a sack
  • Led NCHS to 2022 District 13-6A title and bi-district championship
  • Shined on the track as a state finalist in the 4×100 as a sophomore
  • Led team to bi-district title in basketball as a sophomore

Keeler on Wilson: “Dravon has been a playmaker on both sides of the ball and is a talented athlete. We project him to play defensive back for us and his ball skills can make him a major asset on the back end.”

Transfer Signees
Jase Bauer • QB • R-SOPH • 6-2 • 220 • Ankeny, Iowa / Ankeny HS / Central Michigan

  • Played in 18 games at CMU in 2022 and 2023, throwing for 2,316 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 677 yards and 14 scores
  • Was the primary starter for the Chippewas in 2023, throwing for a career-high 280 yards against Buffalo and putting up a career-best 106 rushing yards vs NIU
  • Named MAC Player of the Week in September 2023 after scoring the game-winning touchdown in a 34-30 comeback win over South Alabama
  • Finished with five total touchdowns (four rushing) and 279 yards of total offense in that game vs the Jaguars
  • 2021 graduate of Ankeny High School in Ankeny, Iowa, where he played three years of varsity football for Head Coach Rick Nelson
  • Named Class 4A First Team All-State as senior and junior
  • Named captain as a senior, earning all-conference honors twice
  • Named Iowa’s Top Quarterback in his class
  • Two-time Class 4A All-District selection
  • Passed for 2,041 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2020, also rushing for 852 yards and had 10 rushing touchdowns
  • Led AHS to a state championship in senior season, passing for 2,207 yards and 20 touchdowns while completing 61.5 percent of passes (126-of-205)
  • Named the Grinnell Mutual Player of the Week
  • Rated a three-star recruit by ESPN, 247sports, and ON3DB, and two-star recruit by Rivals
  • Also earned all-state honors in baseball as a shortstop

Keeler on Bauer: “Jase is a tough competitor, who we think will be a great fit in our offense. He has started and won games at the FBS level already, and he
carries himself like a professional. He comes from a football family and we look forward to him joining ours.”

Michael Phoenix II • WR • R-JR • 6-2 • 200 • Conroe, Texas / Conroe HS

  • CHS Junior Year: 46 catches 716 rec. yards 9 td catches.
  • 2019 first team all-district
  • 2019 first team all-Montgomery County
  • CHS Senior year: 79 catches 1,399 rec. yards 22 td catches
  • 2020 first team all-district
  • 2020 first team all-VYPE offense
  • 2020 first team all-state
  • Helped lead KC to consecutive league titles in 2022 and 2023
  • Helped KC to NJCAA national semifinals in 2023
  • 2023 Stats: 43 catches, 731 yards, 9 touchdowns
  • Season-high 128 receiving yards and 3 TDs vs NEO
  • Had three 100-yard games, including 8 catches for 100 yards and a score vs NMMI
  • 2022 Stats: 12 receptions for 138 yards
  • Redshirted 2021 at Kilgore College

Keeler on Phoenix:
“Michael was one of the most dominant receivers at the junior college level this year, and we think he will be a fantastic addition to our group. We were able to keep him close to home and expect him to make an instant impact
with his size and speed.”

Hunter Watson • QB • R-JR • 6-3 • 210 • Celina, Texas / Celina HS / Iowa Western CC / Arkansas-Monticello

  • Led Iowa Western CC to 2023 NJCAA national championship
  • In 2023 completed 163 of 282 passes (57.8 percent) for 1,904 yards, 22 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions in 13 games played
  • Also rushed for 717 yards with 8 touchdowns
  • 2023 NJCAA All-America second team
  • Started collegiate career at Arkansas-Monticello, playing in one game in 2021 and five games in 2022
  • Two-time first team all-district selection in football and basketball at CHS
  • Son of Val and Phillip Watson
  • Has three siblings – Braydon, Landree and Blyss
  • Brother, Braydon, played football at North Texas

Keeler on Watson:
“Hunter really impressed us this year with his toughness and competitive spirit as he led his team to the NJCAA National Championship. He is a Texas kid whose athleticism and playmaking ability at the quarterback position will be a
major asset.”

Click here to return home.