Sanford’s Signees: Getting to know some of the new Hilltoppers

Evan Heichelbech is the College Heights Herald Editor-in-Chief for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

Evan Heichelbech

Last week Mike Sanford signed his first recruiting class as a head coach, inking 23 players to the WKU’s 2017 class. Here’s a more in depth look at some of the future Hilltoppers.

Mik’Quan Deane, TE, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M: A junior college transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Deane is one of just two three-star ESPN recruits in the class. A 6-4, 240-pound tight end from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Deane chose WKU over Oregon University and University of New Mexico, among others. He was a consensus top-100 JUCO recruit across all major recruiting services and was rated the No. 4 junior college tight end by 247sports.com.

“Mik’Quan Deane is a difference maker,” Sanford said. “He really is one of the elite tight ends across junior college in the country. The thing about him that is important for our roster is that he can play and contribute right away.”

Preston Mixon, OL, Montgomery, Alabama: One of the men tasked with replacing potential first-round draft pick Forrest Lamp, Mixon is the other ESPN three-star recruit in the class. He picked the Hilltoppers over Purdue, Illinois, and Conference USA rival Middle Tennessee. The 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman from Jefferson Davis High School was a top-170 offensive tackle in the nation and a top-100 player in the fertile recruiting ground of Alabama.

“Preston Mixon is an important piece of this puzzle that we put together,” Sanford said. “We needed to really create some outstanding depth at tackle. He was a player that had some serious heat recruitment from Big Ten schools at the very end. He’s a guy that personality-wise, his love of the game, it was a no-brainer for us to go after him.”

Latheron Rogers-Anderson, DB, Columbia, South Carolina: One of the other talented prospects that took up until signing day to settle on the Toppers is 6-1, 190-pound defensive back Latheron Rogers-Anderson. Listed as an athlete by some recruiting services, Rogers-Anderson will play defensive back at WKU. He finished his senior season at Ridgeview High in Columbia, South Carolina, with 869 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, 55 tackles and two interceptions while playing as both a wide receiver and cornerback.

“He’s a player that has incredible versatility,” Sanford said. “He is a homebody. He definitely has a very very close relationship with his mother and down the stretch I think it was important for him to realize that he can succeed being away from home. Ultimately, he did feel that there was something different about our coaching staff and we felt there was something different about him from the standpoint of quality of character and leadership. He’s a heck of a football player.”

Cole Spencer, OL, Louisville: The only signee from the Bluegrass State, Spencer is one of three state champion players in the Toppers’ signing class. The 6-4, 285-pound Trinity High product is another piece that will be expected to help replace some of the production of the departing big men up front for WKU.

“He’s another player that had some serious heat on him late,” Sanford said. “We feel like we’re getting a great player from a great program in the state of Kentucky that’s going to help us at tackle.”

Davis Shanley, QB, Duluth, Georgia: Sanford has coached top-level passers like former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer, and his first quarterback recruit at WKU is 6-2, 190-pound Davis Shanley. In his two-year career as a starter and South Forsyth High, Shanley threw for 4,017 passing yards and 39 touchdowns while also racking up 1,094 yards on the ground and 15 rushing scores.

“Davis really fits the mold of most quarterbacks that I’ve been around offensively within the system at Boise State and Notre Dame,” Sanford said. “The other thing I learned about Davis Shanley was when I did my in-home visit with him. Everything was going well, but I felt like at times he was a bit a standoff and rough around the edges personality wise. It didn’t really all click for me about who Davis is until he challenged me to a ping-pong game. So we went down to the basement and played ping-pong and he’s one of the most competitive human beings I’ve ever been around. To have a chance to see him compete, even through the avenue of ping-pong, he beat me 21-8. For his official visit, I got as many points as 11 and that was a big deal for him because he tries to hold everybody under double digits.”

Reporter Evan Heichelbech can be reached at 502-415-1817 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @evanheich.