NAU football is going to see a massive turnover in the 2023-24 season. The entire recruiting/transfer class of 2023 was released on Feb. 1, including 26 new members to the Lumberjack gridiron squad.
Each of these players has some sort of backstory or reason as to why they were recruited to NAU, whether that be their accolades in high school or their want for playing time at an up-and-coming Big Sky school.
Last week we looked at some big offensive pieces added through the transfer portal. This week let’s flip sides to some defensive-minded Lumberjacks.
BJ Wagner [6’0, 200 | DB | Orlando, FL / Western Kentucky]
Wagner, coming from an FBS school in Western Kentucky entered the transfer portal in early December. In the nine games he played as a Hilltopper, he posted 13 tackles. One for a loss, as well as a single interception coming against Hawai’i.
The redshirt sophomore came out of high school a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports. He was also recruited by Louisville, Missouri, Rutgers and West Virginia before committing to WKU.
As a four-year starter on the Orlando Christian Prep Warriors, Wagner accumulated 166 tackles, seven interceptions and 4.5 tackles for loss. He also played receiver, snagging 89 catches for 1,354 yards and 20 touchdowns throughout his whole career.
In his senior season, Wagner helped guide his team to the playoffs, but it ended in a first-round exit.
His hudl highlight tape shows flashes of what could be an elite defensive back. Wagner possesses the ability to see where the quarterback is looking and multiple clips back that up. He also hits like a truck, laying multiple players out hard enough to cough up the football.
It will be interesting to see how Wagner fits into an NAU defense with many defensive backs already on the roster, but his previous experience in FBS football may help propel him into the starting lineup.
Shawn Dourseau [5’11,187 | DB | Perris, CA / East Carolina]
A junior out of East Carolina, another FBS school, Dourseau comes to NAU as one of their most experienced transfers. In his three seasons as a Pirate, he played 31 games, racking up 121 total tackles, one sack, one pick and one forced fumble.
Dourseau primarily played as a second-unit player, but in 2021 he made four starts for the Pirates and recorded the lone interception of his career against South Florida. That play was also highlighted on ESPN’s top plays of the day segment of SportsCenter.
He came out of Citrus Hill High School in California, where he led the Hawks to the playoffs in his senior season. In that season, he posted 70 total tackles, 11 tackles for losses and three interceptions.
The scouting/highlight tape pinned on his Twitter showcases all aspects of his game to a tee. Some clips display his ability to make tackles and halt movement, while others show his defensive vision. One notable clip shows him tracking the quarterback’s eyes across the field to go and make a pass deflection.
Dourseau is a welcome addition to the ever-growing list of Lumberjack defensive backs. He will surely see more first-team action in Flagstaff due to his experience at a high level, as well as his defensive prowess.
Mikale Greer [6’2,185 | DB | Compton, CA / San Jose State]
Greer is the third defensive back NAU added through the transfer portal. The San Jose State product appeared in just 14 games in his time as a Spartan and accumulated five tackles, though he was primarily used on special teams.
In high school, Greer played both defensive back and wide receiver. During his senior year, he snagged three interceptions. No other statistics of his were posted.
His hudl tape from his senior year gives scouts a good idea of how he actually plays on both sides of the ball. Greer has hands and he shows that with clips from both sides of the ball. Some touchdowns that he caught required him to elevate and make plays with his whole body, which is a great skill to have as a defensive back.
Other defensive clips show his physicality and ability to make tackles in the open field, again another valuable skill to have.
Like the previous two players listed above, Greer will have an opportunity to become not only a rotational defensive back but also a potential full-time starter.
Jonathan Jones [6’4, 255 | DL | McKinney, TX / Mississippi Gulf Community College]
Jones excelled in his lone season of community college football at Mississippi Gulf. Of his 18 tackles, five were sacks and eight were tackles for losses.
At McKinney High School, Jones thrived. Putting up 55 tackles, 16 tackles for losses and six sacks in his junior season. The Lions placed fourth in their district that year against Texas’ highest competition. 6A schools like Allen and Dallas Jesuit topped the table.
His hudl tape, like every other recruit, shows why he put up the statistics he did. Jones is a monster on the interior and multiple snippets showed him blowing through defenders to make strong tackles. He also excelled at using his hands to move past linemen which is an essential skill for players who aim to move up in the football world.
Jones will join an NAU defensive line that lost out on one of their biggest names this offseason, Sheldon Newton. He will be a competitor for a starting spot in what could be a dominant NAU line this season.
Jonny Bortoff [6’4, 295 | OL | Quincy, IL / Missouri Western] and Jack Forsyth [6’6 ,295 | OL | Falls Church, VA / Howard]
While Bortoff and Forsyth may not have the camaraderie that previously mentioned Kramer and Koustanian did, these two will certainly provide a boost to an NAU line that has to block almost an entirely new offense.
Bortoff earned two All-State selections and three All-Conference selections during his time in high school. While Forsyth helped Howard earn a share of the MEAC regular season championship this past season.
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