A celebration of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Head Coach Cedric Thomas' first national signing day class was a success, and the Social Lounge was filled with Golden Lions supporters on Thursday during an event to mark the occasion.

During the celebration, Thomas took the podium to first and foremost thank everyone for coming out. Thomas went on to explain the hard work that he and his coaching staff have put forward since being hired on campus, and how it's paid off with a solid first class of athletes.

The coaching staff under Thomas was announced and acknowledged during the ceremony, but this celebration was strictly about the newcomers to the UAPB football program.

Thomas expressed how much it meant to him that they were able to get so much done in a limited amount of time after missing the early signing period.

"It's really just been a blessing and a testament to the coaching staff," Thomas said. "I had three or four guys on staff with me when I got here and we put them on the road and they went hunting, and they found the best available. We didn't really look for needs as compared to getting the best available kids that wanted us. I think we did an awesome job. We filled some of those needs and holes at some real interesting positions."

When initially hired, Thomas referenced the fact that he wanted to put an emphasis on keeping talent in the city and in the state. Thomas and his staff were able to sign four Arkansas natives, including two guys from within the city, Omar Allen and Isaiah Singleton.

"The local kids, I'm going to put that four hour radius around the state, and we're going to own it," Thomas said. "We want to take care of home, and I think we did a great job at that."

Apart from putting this class in tact was the transitioning process from one school to another and seeing who all they could bring along with them. Along with keeping some guys that the staff already were in touch with, they added guys that they were able to get in and build relationships with from day one on the job. Thomas believes this will make for a special unit.

"When we got here, my staff had already been working," Thomas said. "That says a lot about them and their trust in me because they left the job they were at to come here. A lot of them already had their hands on kids. So when that transition happened for them it was easy. Yeah you sell the institution, but you also, as a coach, you sell yourself. The parents believed in them, and once they told them that they were transitioning to this institution, they let their kids come with them. We're excited about the in-state kids and the maturation of the out of state kids, and together we think it's going to be a great class for us."

The class isn't fully complete according to Thomas, as they have a few more openings to add on some more guys.

"Everything we did, it was methodical," Thomas said. "We have some scholarships left, and I plan to get a few more after signing day. You have some kids who make it late, and you get some transfers."

Some of these freshman will be counted on from day one, due to current position of the program. Thomas said that there are some guys in this class who are physically ready to take the field now, and those will be the ones who are looked on to make instant impacts.

"Because of the program and the state it's in, freshman have to hit the ground running," Thomas said. "What I won't do is put a kid out there if he's not physically and mentally ready prepared. Looking at the body structure of a lot of these kids, they have the body type of college athletes now."

Offensive linemen was a big need in this class, and Thomas is more than pleased with the guys they got, and he even believes they snuck them from under the rugs of other high level schools.

"The offfensive line," Thomas said of the group he feels they addressed the most. "We got two big time offensive lineman that we stole from other institutions, and it was a need. When you look at what we have on campus, we have some guys who have to lose some weight and we're doing a good job working at that. Anytime you can get quality offensive lineman you're batting 1,000, and I think we did that."

2018 signees below:

1. Raynald St. Jour (6’2 290) OL

- ASA Junior College

- Naples, FL

2. David Chapple (5’9 152) QB

⦁ - North Little Rock

3. Tychristopher Harris (6’0 210) LB

- Woodlawn High School

- Shreveport, LA

4. Larry Moton (6’0 185) WR

- Woodlawn High School

- Shreveport, LA

5. Dashawn Lawrence (5’10 175) ATH

⦁ Taft High School

⦁ Cincinnati, Oh

6. Noah Hayes (6’6 300) OL

- Oxon Hill High School

- Oxon Hill, MD

7. Trae Cherry (5’11 163) DB

- Waco High School

- Waco, TX

8. Tayvon Littlejohn (6’3 180) DB

⦁ Greenville Weston High School

⦁ -Greenville, MS

9. Isaac Peppers (6’0 203) LB

⦁ Greenville Weston High School

⦁ Greenville, MS

10. Detavion Turner (5’10 205) RB

⦁ Nettleton High School

⦁ Jonesboro, AR

11. Omar Allen (5’7 180) RB/SLot

- Watson Chapel High School

- Pine Bluff, AR

12. Isaih Singleton (5’11 215) LB

- Pine Bluff High School

- Pine Bluff, AR

13. Rashaad Clayton (6’1 270) DL

⦁ Memphis Central High School

⦁ Memphis, TN

14. Stanleigh Bentley (6’1 270) DB

⦁ Yazoo City High School

⦁ Yazoo, MS

15. Paul Todd (6’2 205) WR

- Hillcrest High School

- Memphis, TN

16. Taeyler Porter (5’9 180) RB

⦁ ASA Miami Junior College

⦁ Naples, FL