Football Lands Nine New Recruits


Fordham Football won’t get to play until late-September due to COVID-19. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

The Fordham football program is looking ahead to the 2020 season and has letters of intent from nine new recruits, head coach Joe Conlin announced last Wednesday. The nine incoming Rams include a trio of defensive backs, two wide receivers, two defensive linemen, an offensive lineman and a running back.

The young men, who will see their first regular season game with Fordham this coming August, come from as close as New York state to as far as Georgia and even Texas. Three of the nine signees are from Georgia, with all three coming from the same high school: Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia. Two of the recruits are Maryland products, while one each comes from New York, New Jersey, Ohio and the Lone Star State.

We are excited to welcome these talented student-athletes to our program,” Conlin said of his newest team members. “Each member of this class has had tremendous success in high school and we’re looking forward to seeing them continue that success here at Fordham. We’re anxiously awaiting their arrival to Rose Hill so that they can get their collegiate careers started.”

Taj Barnes (a 5’9″ running back from Sugar Hill, Georgia), is one of the three soon-to-be graduates of Lanier joining the Rams. Last season for the Longhorns, Barnes ran for 1,752 yards and 19 touchdowns, not only earning himself a spot on the Region 8-AAAAAA All-Region Team but also securing the region’s title of Offensive Player of the Year. Barnes’ brother, Ashton, was also an Air Force football signee back in 2015.

Another member of the Lanier squad coming to the Bronx to continue his football career is defensive back Nahill Perkins, who was also a part of the team’s 10-2 2019 season. Recording 52 total tackles and 17 pass break-ups in 2019, he was an All-County and All-Region selection.

Joining his teammates Barnes and Perkins at Fordham is 6-3 wide receiver Cole Thornton, who is also from Sugar Hill, Georgia. He spent his senior season catching 35 passes for 674 yards and 14 touchdowns, getting an All-Region selection and an Honorable Mention All-County pick.

Mekai Felton is one of the two Maryland recruits for this upcoming season. As a wide receiver, he had an outstanding 2019. Playing under head coach Anthony Burgos and coming off an appearance in the 2018 State Championships, Felton received an All-County selection and a Crab Bowl selection representing Franklin High School in Reistertown, Maryland.

Though not from the same school as Felton, defensive back Jordan Riley is also from Maryland, hailing from Forestville and attending the National Christian Academy. Playing under head coach Andre Kates, Riley’s squad went 7-3 in 2019. Riley himself was the team captain and had 33 total tackles and two interceptions last season.

Coming out of Maryland is Rich Hofus, a 6-4 defensive lineman out of Canfield High School who also wrestled, played baseball and participated in track and field. He brought his Cardinals to back-to-back regional finals in football over the last two seasons, and, in 2019, he was named First Team All-County and All-Conference.

The New Jersey product of this Fordham recruiting class is Paramus High School’s Kyle Jacob. Not only did he have 107 total tackles, nine forced fumbles and four interceptions this past season alone as a defensive back, but he also Paramus’ all-time leading rusher at 2,934 career rushing yards. An obvious First Team All-Group 3 and First Team Bergen County selection in 2019, he played under head coach Joe Sabella at Paramus High School. 

Cody Johnson is a 6’3″ offensive lineman who hails from The Woodlands, Texas, and graduated from The Woodlands High School. Johnson was an impactful player, as his 2019 season was not only deserving of his All-District selection but also helped bring his squad to the 6A State Playoffs. He was named a Top 100 recruit in Hoston for this season.

Rounding out the nine recruits is Jason Walker of Buffalo, New York. Coming from a St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute squad coached by Derek Landri, Walker recorded 11.5 tackles for loss last year as a defensive lineman. His efforts made him a 2019 All-Western New York honoree and got him inducted into the Trench Trophy Hall of Fame.

With these nine new members added to their squad, the Rams will soon begin preparation for the 2020 regular season, which begins on Saturday, Aug. 29, hosting Stony Brook University at Jack Coffey Field.