Second-year Head Coach Cedric Thomas welcomed a total of 23 signees into the University of Golden Lions' football program on Wednesday evening at a Signing Day Celebration.

During the event, Thomas showcased each member of the 2019 class as their highlights were displayed on a big screen. Also, the 2019 schedule was released, and the Golden Lion faithful in attendance were highly pleased, according to Thomas.

"It's exciting since it's out this early," Thomas said. "To see the fans being enthused about being able to make decisions as far as travel, homecoming, and things of that sort. To hear them talk about that at the event was really pleasant."

As far as the celebration itself, Thomas believes it's very beneficial for the fans to be able to be involved in what's taking place in the program and for them to be able to get a better understanding of the newest members of the Golden Lions football family.

"I thought it was great for the community to be able to get out and see the new guys who are apart of the program," Thomas said. "It also gave them an opportunity to understand what's going on behind the scenes since the last game. We just want to get the buzz going about Golden Lion football as it relates to the new editions, but also what has been going on since the last football game."

On the defensive side of the ball, Thomas talked highly of what they were able to bring in to help that unit. Thomas made it clear that he believes they added depth.

"You look at four mid-year junior college DB's that came in around Christmas," Thomas said. "They've been able to work out with us. The big boys up front, by signing five defensive line up it kind of takes up for some of the guys missing due to graduation. Good group of linebackers who are big-time players, so I think we hit everything we needed to on the defensive side of the ball.

With only one departure from last year's starters on defense, the Golden Lions return everyone else. However, by going out and adding Missouri Tigers transfer Harry Ballard III, the Golden Lions added another threat to their receiving core.

"With the offense we have 10 starters returning," Thomas said. "We were able to get a big-time Missouri transfer, an SEC kid who is big-time and will be able to help Josh Wilkes and DeJuan Miller. The coaching staff did a great job of filling needs and getting guys who understand the culture and want to be apart of the transition in turning this program around."

Early signees are:

Harry Ballard III, WR, 6-3, 210, University of Missouri/St. Louis, MO. Martevious Washington, DB, 6-1, 165, Southwest, MS. Community College/Collins, MS. Solomon Brooks, DB, 6-0, 180, Hinds Community College/Belzoni, MS Taylor Holston, DB, 6-1, 180, Iowa Central Junior College/Cincinnati, OH. Jaylon Thigpen, DB, 6-1, 185, Southwest, MS. Community College /Laurel, MS.

Feb. 6 Signings:

Akins, Timon, LB, 6-1, 220, Marion, Ark. / Marion HS Beard III, Monroe, LB, 6-1, 210, Chattanooga, Tenn. / Notre Dame HS Bennett, Ja'Quan, OL, 6-5, 290, Cincinnati, Ohio / Aiken HS Black, Berkarion, WR, 6-3, 170, Pine Bluff, Ark. / Pine Bluff HS Brown, JT, DB, 6-1, 175, Tampa, Fla. / Hillsborough HS DaCosta, Raschad, OL, 6-3, 280, Coconut Creek, Fla. / Coconut Creek HS Foote, Jamaal DL, 6-3, 260, Pine Bluff, Ark. / Pine Bluff HS Godina, Daniel, DL, 6-2, 305, Rialto, Ca. / Eisenhower HS Gray, JaVonn DT, 6-2, 300, Indianapolis, Ind. / Lawrence Central HS Hill, Dalyn WR, 6-1, 185, New Orleans, La. / Edna Karr HS Nelson, Tarik, LB, 6-1, 200, Chattanooga, Tenn. / Notre Dame HS Newton, Chris, DB, 6-2, 190, Eldorado, Ark. / Eldorado HS Smith, Athen, DL, 6-2, 260, Lexa, Ark. / Barton HS Smith, Derrick, DB, 6-1, 170, Houston, Texas / Height HS Smith, Tyler, DL, 6-2, 230, Cleveland, Miss. / Cleveland Central HS Vaughn, Xzavier, QB, 6-4, 190, Beaumont, Texas / United HS Williams, Lavonski, RB, 5-10, 190, Pahokee, Fla. / Pahokee HS