Charlotte 49ers add transfers to incoming class and coach Healy gives updates on local players
By Richard Walker
Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy had added seven transfers to a signing class that now has 24 players on Wednesday.
Healy said he was excited about adding many players that fit his team’s “culture” and he also gave some updates on local players like former Hunter Huss High linebacker Prince Bemah and former Shelby High running back Calvin Camp in addition to commenting on his team’s 2021 schedule.
The seven transfers come from other NCAA Division I programs, highlighted by former four-star high school quarterback recruit James Foster from Texas A&M. The other transfers are defensive backs Jon Alexander (Kansas State) and Davondre Robinson (East Carolina), defensive tackle Joshua Bailey (Iowa State), running back Shadrick Byrd, defensive end Kofi Wardlow (Notre Dame) and linebacker Justin Whisenhunt (Troy).
All seven transfers have enrolled at Charlotte and will participate in spring practice drills slated to begin March 26 and will end in late April.
Also, nine of the 17 high school signees have already enrolled at Charlotte – linebacker Cam Burden, defensive ends Tyson Clawson, Miguel Jackson and Miles Posey, lineman B.J. Ragland, punter Bailey Rice, running back Chavion Smith, offensive lineman Trevor Timmons and quarterback Xavier Williams – and will participate in spring practice.
Other 49ers high school signees are offensive lineman Knox Boyd, linebacker D.J. Brown, wide receivers Jairus Mack and Elijah Spencer, defensive backs Douglas Newsome and Steven Parker, defensive tackle Isaiah Potts and tight end Colin Weber.
Clawson (Charlotte Independence), Potts (Fayetteville Pine Forest), Smith (Statesville) are the in-state additions from a group of newcomers that also hail from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Australia.
“We’re not close to where we want to be,” Healy said in a zoom news conference. “But we know it can be done here.”
Foster is competing with two-year starter Chris Reynolds and longtime backups Dom Shoffner and Dylan Ratliff for the starting quarterback job.
Five former local standouts are expected to compete for playing time for the 49ers in 2021, including previously injured Bemah (knee) and Camp (foot).
Bemah, a 2019 Huss graduate, played in three games as a true freshman before needing surgery to repair a torn knee ligament and miss all of the 2020 season recovering.
“Prince has been out there running around and he’s doing well” Healy said. “He may not do any hitting but he’ll be out there for some of it.”
Camp, a 2017 Shelby graduate, injured his foot in the last game of the 2020 season and isn’t expected to participate in any spring drills.
“He’s still in a boot right now,” Healy said of Camp.
Redshirt senior receiver Cam Dollar, a 2017 East Lincoln High graduate, is coming off a 10-catch, 173-yard, 3-touchdown season in six games (three starts).
“I think he’ll take a big step into a leadership role for us,” Healy said of Dollar.
Offensive lineman Gage Welborn (East Lincoln 2018) and D.J. Bagwell (Kings Mountain 2020) will be playing for the 49ers’ newest hire, offensive line coach Herb Hand. Hand comes to the Charlotte program after working at Texas and Hand has also coached at Auburn, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Tulsa and West Virginia.
“He’s trustable depth for us,” Healy said of Welborn. “He’s been great for us.”
And of Bagwell, whose father Brent died at 51 last week, Healy said: “I know he’s going through some things with his family. But he’s been everything we hoped for.”
After spring practice drills conclude, Healy will be preparing the 49ers for a daunting 2021 schedule that opens with a historic first home game against an ACC opponent (Duke) on Sept. 4.
“I think opening up with Duke is a huge opportunity for us,” said Healy, whose team lost 53-19 at Duke in October. “Obviously, we got throttled and were not competitive in that game. So it’s a very difficult schedule but one with some opportunities for us.”
Charlotte went 2-4 overall last season and 2-2 in Conference USA navigating what had been a 12-game schedule that had nine games postponed or cancelled.
2021 Charlotte 49ers football schedule
Sept. 4 Duke
Sept. 11 Gardner-Webb
Sept. 18 at Georgia State
Sept. 25 Middle Tennessee
Oct. 2 at Illinois
Oct. 9 at Florida International
Oct. 16 BYE
Oct. 23 Florida Atlantic
Oct. 30 at Western Kentucky
Nov. 6 Rice
Nov. 13 at Louisiana Tech
Nov. 20 Marshall
Nov. 27 at Old Dominion