MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Memphis coach Justin Fuente believes the class he signed Wednesday helped fill the Tigers' needs to fortify their defense.
The Tigers' 21-man class includes three defensive linemen, five linebackers and one lineman (Trevon Tate) who could play either offense or defense. Fuente said that ''we are going to be hit pretty heavily on the defensive side during the next two years and it is important to work in new guys for the future.''
Memphis also signed two quarterbacks: Clay Holgorsen and Jason Stewart. Holgorsen is the nephew of West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. Stewart threw for 1,925 yards and 15 touchdowns at Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College last season.
Memphis went 3-9 last season in its first year as an American Athletic Conference member.
National rankings: Rivals: No. 80. Scout: No. 89 (tie).
Best in class: Jarvis Cooper is 6-foot-1, 255 pounds and very versatile. Cooper rushed for over 1,300 yards and 17 touchdowns at West Memphis (Ark.) High, where he also played defensive end, nose tackle and linebacker. Memphis plans to start him out at running back. ''We wanted to sign a big running back, and we certainly did that today,'' Fuente said.
Best of the rest: DE Isadore Outing, WR Roderick Proctor and LB Noah Robinson join Cooper as the only Memphis signees rated as three-star prospects by Rivals.com. `
Late addition: LBs Genard Avery and Shareef White are Grenada (Miss.) High teammates who verbally committed to Louisiana-Lafayette before opting for Memphis instead late last month.
One that got away: Memphis' class features a notable lack of in-state prospects. The only players in this class from Tennessee high schools are defensive end McKenzie Hill of Memphis Evangelical Christian and defensive back Carlos Williams of Covington.
Quotable: ''I like what they did defensively. I think it's a solid class top to bottom, kind of right there in the middle of the American (Athletic) Conference.''-Barton Simmons, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com.