Toledo Rockets Football News: Adds 21 Newcomers to 2022 Roster


TOLEDO, Ohio – University of Toledo Head Coach Jason Candle announced on Wednesday that 21 student-athletes have been added to the Rockets’ 2022 roster. Among the 21 newcomers are 13 high school players who have signed national letters of intent (NLI) and eight players who have transferred from other schools and will be eligible to play next fall.

Wednesday was the first day of the traditional signing period for high school football players. Toledo had previously announced most of the NLI signees on the early signing date of Dec. 15.

“This is a class we are very excited about, one that will find its way into the culture of our locker room and our program,” said Candle, who will be entering his seventh season as Toledo’s head coach this fall. “There are definitely some young men who will be able to help us right away. This is a class made up of winners, high character people who place an emphasis on doing the right thing. Their academics show that, their character off the football field shows that.”

Candle added that the Rockets’ eight transfer students will increase the competition level this spring and into next season.

“We’re not going to use the transfer portal to save our roster. We’ll use it to supplement it,” said Candle. “I think if you look at the transfers we added last year, they came into a situation where we already had good depth, but they sparked competition at their positions and eventually helped us. This group is no different. With transfers, we are looking for young men who can fit into the culture we’ve developed here, and ultimately help us on the football field. We won’t bring someone into our program unless we think they can do that.”  

Candle and his staff added players from 10 different states, including five from Ohio, four from Florida, three from Michigan, two each from Georgia and Indiana, and one each from Arizona, Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

Of the 21 additions, 12 are enrolled in the spring semester at UT and will participate in winter conditioning and the spring practice season.

2022 Toledo Football Signees / Transfers

Derell Bedingfield, Jr.
Linebacker | 6-1 | 190 | Fr. | Cleveland, Ohio (Benedictine)

Derell Bedingfield Jr. is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. In his senior season, he was named first-team All-Ohio with 94 tackles, eight sacks and four TFL. He was also named to the Tony Fisher Award watch list, which goes to The News-Herald Player of the Year in football.  As a junior in 2020, he was named third-team All-Ohio and first-team all-district after recording 77 tackles and six sacks.

Peny Boone
Running Back | 6-1 | 245 | So. | Detroit, Mich. (Martin Luther King) | Maryland

Peny Boone is transferring to Toledo after spending two seasons at Maryland. He will have three years of eligibility remaining. This past season, he rushed for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries, tallying a season-high 42 yards against Michigan State. Boone played in four of Maryland’s five games in 2020, rushing for 86 yards on 19 carries in a reserve role. Coming out of high school, he was the 18th-ranked running back in the country according to Rivals. Boone rushed for 1,282 yards on 129 carries and 22 touchdowns as a senior in 2019. He won two state championships at Martin Luther King High School in Detroit.

Nasir Bowers
Cornerback | 5-9 | 168 | Fr. | Lakeland, Fla. (Lakeland)

Nasir Bowers is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. As a senior he totaled 28 tackles, eight passes defended, and four interceptions. Bowers was named all-county as a junior in 2020, registering 19 tackles, 2.5 TFL, and three interceptions.

Malachi Davis
Defensive Tackle | 6-4 | 230 | Fr. | Holt, Mich. (Holt Senior)

Malachi Davis is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. A standout player at Holt Senior High School, Davis earned two all-state and all-region honors during his career and was a three-time all-conference selection. Davis registered 49 tackles, 15 TFL, and returned a fumble for a touchdown as a senior last season. In six games in 2020, he tallied 37 tackles and 13 TFL to help Holt make a run in the MHSAA playoffs.

Kiel Eldridge
Outside Linebacker | 6-5 | 230 | Fr. | Fort Wayne, Ind. (Mae Jemison)

Kiel Eldridge is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. He was named to MaxPreps’ Indiana Preseason All-State team prior to the start of his senior season.

Rourke Freeburg
Outside Linebacker | 6-2 | 220 | Sr. | Scottsdale, Ariz. (Desert Mountain) | Arizona

Rourke Freeburg comes to Toledo after playing four seasons at Arizona. He will have one year of eligibility remaining. He played in 32 games during his career with the Wildcats, including all 12 contests this past season. He spent much of his career as a key contributor on special teams, though he started all five games in 2020 at outside linebacker, registering 21 tackles and 3.5 TFL. At Desert Mountain High School, Freeburg was a two-time team captain and played quarterback, running back, linebacker, and safety during his career.

Andre Fuller
Defensive Back | 6-2 | 180 | So. | Loxahatchee, Fla. (Seminole Ridge) | Arkansas Pine Bluff

Andre Fuller joins the Toledo football program after transferring from Arkansas Pine Bluff, and will have three years of eligibility remaining. He played in 11 games for UAPB this past season, collecting 29 tackles, 14 pass breakups, and three interceptions for the Golden Lions. He was named SWAC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance against Grambling State when he returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown and registered eight pass breakups.

Stephen Gales
Offensive Lineman | 6-8 | 290 | Fr. | Alliance, Ohio (Alliance)

Stephen Gales is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. Gales took over as Alliance’s right tackle during the 2020 season and earned a starting spot on the offensive line this season as well. He earned all-district honors as a senior this past season.

Dallas Gant
Linebacker | 6-3 | 235 | Sr. | Toledo, Ohio (St. John’s Jesuit) | Ohio State

Dallas Gant is a graduate transfer from Ohio State who attended St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo. He played in 39 games over four seasons with the Buckeyes, racking up 54 career tackles. He was a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. A four-star prospect coming out of high school, Gant was rated the nation’s No. 10-ranked outside linebacker and No. 5 player in the state of Ohio by 247Sports. He was also named the 2017 Toledo Blade Player of the Year and earned first team all-Ohio honors as a senior.

Eric Holley III
Wide Receiver | 6-3 | 190 | Fr. | Akron, Ohio (East)

Eric Holley III earned first-team all-state, all-district, and all-city honors after a terrific senior season this past fall. He grabbed 45 catches for 815 yards and 15 touchdowns, helping East High School post a perfect 5-0 record in league play. Holley played primarily at quarterback in 2020, throwing for 798 yards and five touchdowns in seven games while rushing for 512 yards and four TDs on the ground. Holley was also a standout on the Akron East boys’ basketball team.

Deshawn Holt
Linebacker | 6-5 | 235 | So. | Waldorf, Md. (Westlake) | Maryland

Deshawn Holt comes to Toledo after playing at Maryland from 2019-21. He will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. In 2021 in he appeared in eight games at linebacker, missing the final five of the regular season due to injury. He totaled 15 tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss. He played in five games with two starts in 2020, totaling eight tackles. He played in two games as a freshman in 2019. He was rated as a three-star recruit out of high school by 24/7 Sports.

Roland McGhee Jr.
Safety | 6-1 | 180 | Fr. | Nashville, Tenn. (Ensworth)

Roland McGhee Jr. was a 2020 all-region honoree as a junior at Ensworth High School, collecting 39 tackles and two interceptions as a first-year starter. A multi-sport star, he has also won state championships in track and field in the 300m hurdles, 200m dash, and long jump.

Emmanuel McNeil-Warren
Defensive Back | 6-2 | 185 | Fr. | Tampa, Fla. (Lakewood)

Emmanuel McNeil-Warren is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. He registered 55 tackles and three interceptions this past season as a senior. He tallied 21 tackles and two picks as a junior in 2020.

Chris Ocasio
Offensive Lineman | 6-2 | 305 | Sr. | Allentown, Pa. (Allentown Central Catholic) | Edinboro

Chris Ocasio comes to Toledo after playing at Edinboro University from 2017-21. He will have one year of eligibility remaining. As a high school standout at Allentown Central Catholic, he started on both the offensive and defensive line, earning two all-conference nods. He helped his team make the District 11 Class 4A semifinals as a senior in 2016. 

Zach Person
Tight End | 6-5 | 225 | Fr. | Kingsford, Mich. (Kingsford)

Zach Person is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. He is a two-time first-team all-state honoree, accumulating 64 receptions for 950 yards and eight touchdowns the last two seasons. Person also saw time on defense, registering 97 tackles, 15 TFL, and nine sacks as a senior this past fall. He is enrolled at UToledo this spring and will participate in winter workouts and spring practice.

John Alan Richter
Quarterback | 6-3 | 205 | Fr. | Gray, Ga. (Jones County)

John Alan Richter earned region offensive player of the year honors as a senior in 2021, throwing for 3,241 yards and 34 touchdowns this past fall, leading his team to a 10-3 record and a perfect 7-0 mark in conference play. He threw for 2,089 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior. He is enrolled at UToledo this spring and will participate in winter workouts and spring practice.

Avery Smith
Quarterback | 5-10 | 185 | Fr. | East Point, Ga. (Riverwood)

Avery Smith is a three-start prospect according to 24/7 Sports. He was named region player of the year as a senior this past season, throwing for 3,208 yards, rushing for 913 yards, and accounting for 44 total touchdowns. Smith was also a Georgia Mr. Football finalist last season. As a junior in 2020, Smith threw for 1,286 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 349 yards and a pair of TDs. He is enrolled at UToledo this spring and will participate in winter workouts and spring practice.

Ethan Spoth
Offensive Lineman | 6-4 | 275 | Willowick, Ohio (Eastlake North)

Ethan Spoth is a four-time letterwinner for Eastlake North High School. There, he started all four years for the Rangers. He earned all-conference, all-district, and all-county honors twice in his high school career. Spoth also competed on Eastlake North’s track and field team for three years, winning one MVP award. He is enrolled at UToledo this spring and will participate in winter workouts and spring practice.

Anthony Torres
Tight End | 6-6 | 250 | Jr. | Mishawaka, Ind. (Penn) | Western Michigan

Anthony Torres comes to Toledo after playing in 17 games at Western Michigan from 2018-21. He will have two years of eligibility remaining. In 2021, Torres started seven games, and had 12 receptions for 137 yards. At Penn High School, he helped lead the team to Class 6A runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2017. Penn had a 36-4 record with Torres on the roster, and he caught 11 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown as a junior in 2016.

Nicholas Turner
Cornerback | 5-11 | 184 | So. | Slidell, La. (Brother Martin) | Arkansas

Nicholas Turner joins the Rockets after two seasons at Arkansas and will have three years of eligibility remaining. In 2020, he played in nine games and made one start for the Razorbacks, recording 13 total tackles. Turner started the regular season finale against Alabama, where he logged a career high seven tackles. At Brother Martin High School, he helped lead the Crusaders to a 10-3 record and a semifinal birth in the Division I playoffs his senior season.

Junior Vandeross III
Wide Receiver | 5-9 | 188 | Fr. | Tampa, Fla. (Jesuit)

Junior Vandeross III is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports. He caught 47 passes for 747 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, helping lead his team to the 6A State Championship game that will be played this Saturday, Dec. 18. Vandeross was terrific as a junior as well, hauling in 53 passes for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 18.5 yards per reception. 



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