2019 signing

The six are freshmen Tex Bailey, Garrett Dennis, Earnest Files, Garrett Jennings, Isaiah Velez and junior college transfer Howard Watkins Jr.

RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky football program signed six additional players to National Letters of Intent (NLI) on Wednesday during the 2019 Signing Period. The six are freshmen Tex Bailey, Garrett Dennis, Earnest Files, Garrett Jennings, Isaiah Velez and junior college transfer Howard Watkins Jr. The group includes four offensive linemen, a quarterback and an athlete. Five different states are represented among the group, including two from Alabama and one each from Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

In his three years as head coach, Mark Elder has engineered three straight top-25 rated recruiting classes. Eastern’s 2016 class was ranked as the 23rd best in the nation. The 2017 class was the 14th best. The 2018 group was ranked 11th in the country. The results of the staff’s strong recruiting showed this past season as the Colonels ended the 2018 season with four straight wins and were in the conversation for a playoff spot. Eastern Kentucky finished 7-4 overall and third in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 5-2 mark. EKU will begin the 2019 season having won 10 of its last 16 games.

Of the 61 players on the season-ending depth chart, 50 will be back in 2019 including 13 starters. Eastern lost just 15 players from the 2018 squad who had ever played in a game. Eastern Kentucky has won two national championships, 21 conference titles and has made 21 playoff appearances. No other FCS team has won at least two FCS national titles and 20 or more conference championships. The following are individual profiles of the February signees for the 2019 Signing Period.

Howard Watkins Jr. – OL, 6-4, 285, Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio (Garden City CC)

AS A SOPHOMORE IN 2018 AT GARDEN CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE Earned NJCAA third team All-America honors and first team all-KJCAA recognition as a sophomore … helped Garden City to a 10-1 record and a KJCAA championship.

Garrett Dennis – ATH, 5-11, 185, Fr., Louisville, Ky. (Male HS)

HIGH SCHOOL Earned first team all-state honors from the Associated Press and picked second team all-state by the Courier-Journal as a senior in 2018 … finalist for the Associated Press 2018 Mr. Football Award … Lexington Herald-Leader 2018 Class of the Commonwealth … earned MVP honors after leading Male to a 37-20 victory in the class 6A state championship game over Scott County … Kentucky high school player of the year … led the Bulldogs to a 14-1 record as a senior … completed 67 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,491 yards and 34 touchdowns … rushed for 1,121 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on the ground … only Male High School quarterback to score 19 touchdowns in the playoffs.

Isaiah Velez – QB, 6-3, 180, Fr., North Miami, Fla. (Miami Northwestern Senior High)

HIGH SCHOOL Helped Miami Northwestern to a 10-5 record and a class 6A state championship while throwing for 2,700 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior in 2018 … completed 69 percent of his passes … earned All-Dade County honors as a junior and a senior … threw for 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes in 2017 … received a three-star rating from 247Sports … MVP at the LSU and University of Tennessee football camps.

Garrett Jennings – OL, 6-7, 310, Fr., Elizabethton City, Tenn. (Elizabethton HS)

HIGH SCHOOL Led the Cyclones to four straight conference championships … helped Elizabethton High School to a 40-9 record over his final four seasons.

Tex Bailey – OL, 6-4, 305, Fr., Madison, Ala. (Madison Academy)

HIGH SCHOOL Earned all-region honors while helping Madison Academy to a 10-2 record and a region championship as a senior in 2018 … also picked up all-region recognition as a junior in 2017 … helped the Mustangs to a 12-3 record and a state runner-up finish as a sophomore in 2016.

Earnest Files – OL, 6-4, 338, Fr., Birmingham, Ala. (Pinson Valley HS)

HIGH SCHOOL Helped Pinson Valley to a 13-1 record and a state championship as a senior. Through the December signing period, mid-year additions in January and the February signees, EKU’s 2019 recruiting class now includes a total of 23 players – seven offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, three defensive backs, two running backs, two wide receivers, two quarterbacks, one tight end, one linebacker, one kicker and one athlete. You can read about the other players signed during the 2019 Signing Period with the links below. Four Additional Transfers Join Football Program 2018 Early Signing Day