Sterlin Gilbert announces addition of seven transfers to McNeese football squad

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LAKE CHARLES – First year football head coach Sterlin Gilbert has announced the signing of seven transfers to the McNeese Cowboy roster – four from Division I schools, one D-II, and two from the community college ranks.

Those suiting up in the blue and gold this fall will be wide receiver Rhashid Bonnette (Louisiana Tech), running backs D’Andre Hicks (Appalachian State) and Elijah Mack (South Florida), defensive lineman Damien DeGruy (Fresno State), outside linebacker Justin Jackson (Angelo State), linebacker Dorion Pollard (Butler Community College), and safety Darius Johnson (Highland CC).

All seven are enrolled in summer school and are going through conditioning drills and workouts.

“We’re very excited about these seven players,” said Gilbert. “We feel like they’re all going to have an impact on this coming season.”

Both Bonnette and Jackson are graduate transfers.

During his time in Ruston, Bonnette (6-0, 170; Loreauville) totaled 1,065 yards and three touchdowns with 74 receptions. He caught 22 passes for 300 yards and a TD in 2018 for the Bulldogs.

He ranked second on the team in 2017 with 33 catches for 582 yards with two touchdowns while earning All-Conference USA Honorable Mention honors.

At Loreauville HS, Bonnette was a three-star recruit that ranked 14th in Louisiana among receivers by Scout.com while Rivals.com ranked him No. 49 among all Louisiana players.

Jackson (6-2, 210; Missouri City, Texas) was a two-time first team All-Lone Star Conference selection and earned Don Hansen All-America honors while being named the league’s 2017 Linebacker of the Year after he recorded 113 tackles and averaged 10.5 tackles per game.

Hicks (5-10, 178; Punta Gorda, Fla.) appeared in six games at Appalachian State in 2018 as a redshirt freshman before missing the rest of the season with an injury. He rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries including an 11-carry, 150-yard game against Gardner-Webb.

Hicks was a three-star prospect at defensive back by both Scout.com and 247Sports.com and played quarterback, cornerback, running back and wide receiver during his career at Charlotte High School.

The sophomore DeGruy (6-3, 246; New Orleans) was able to take a redshirt in 2018 after playing in just four games while taking advantage of the newly instituted NCAA redshirt rule that allows players to redshirt after playing up to four games.

He participated in the season’s first three games and in the Dec. 15 Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona State where he recorded one tackle.

As a true freshman in 2017, he appeared in all 12 games and tallied the most tackles by a true freshman during the season with six stops.

DeGruy was ranked as the 83rd-best recruit in Louisiana by 247Sports.com while VarsityPreps.com listed the McDonogh 35 product in its 20 most underrated players in Louisiana entering his senior year. He picked up at least 16 offers, including Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Memphis, SMU and UTSA.

Mack (6-0, 214; Punta Gorda, Fla.) played with Hicks at Charlotte High School where he was a three-star recruit by ESPN, 247Sports, Rivals, and Scout.

The incoming junior running back appeared in three games for the Bulls in 2018, rushing for 49 yards on 14 carries and had a high game of 33 yards in a win over Elon.

The 2018 USF Spring Honor Roll Award recipient rushed for over 3,000 yards in high school and received offers from Arizona, Cincinnati, UCF, Indiana, East Carolina, Florida International and Florida Atlantic, among others.

Johnson (5-11, 180; Gray, Georgia) earned honorable mention All-KJCCC (Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference) honors in 2018 as a sophomore after recording 42 tackles with two interceptions and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

Johnson earned second team All-KJCCC honors as a freshman in 2017 after he led the team with four pass interceptions while recording 28 tackles with 1.5 TFLs.

Pollard (5-11, 185; Chicago) will have two seasons to play with the Cowboys and is coming off a sophomore campaign where he helped the Grizzlies post an 8-4 record and a win over Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in the Midwest Classic Bowl.

Pollard saw action in eight games in 2018 and recorded 11 tackles with one tackle for a loss.

He was rated a three-star recruit out of Hinsdale Central HS by 247Sports and received offers from Ball State, Wyoming and Eastern Washington among others.

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