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.
Let’s start recruiting season off strong by taking a look at some of the new Lumberjacks you may see on the field next season, starting with some notable transfers.
Daniel Britt [5’11, 185 | QB | Las Vegas, NV / Montana]
Britt, a former quarterback at Big Sky rival Montana, announced his commitment to NAU after entering the transfer portal in late December. In his brief career at Montana, he passed for 323 total yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball 35 times for 195 yards. Britt showcased his ability to use his legs during his time at Montana. This offseason, the Grizzlies acquired multiple quarterbacks, which may have prompted Britt to move to Flagstaff.
He came out of Liberty High School in Las Vegas, Nevada as a two-star prospect, and led his team to the 4A State title in 2019 after knocking off Nevada powerhouse Bishop Gorman in the semifinals. 2019 was Britt’s junior year, a season where he tallied 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns through the air with only one interception. On the ground, he ran 102 times for 791 yards and two touchdowns.
In terms of awards, Britt was the recipient of not only the Team MVP but also the State Championship MVP in 2019. He also won the “Don’t Doubt Me”, or comeback player of the year award that same year. Keep in mind that Britt won these awards in Nevada’s 4A division, the top division in the state.
Montana’s head coach Bobby Hauck had high praise for Britt.
“Daniel is a true dual-threat quarterback," Hauck said in an interview with Montana Athletics. "He runs well, he throws it well, and the words that come to mind when I see him are toughness and competitiveness. He was injured as a junior for four games and his team went 0-4. But he came back and they went 10-0 from there and won the Nevada State Championship, which is a big deal because they beat Bishop Gorman in the semi-final, who hadn’t lost a Nevada High School game in about 10 years. So, we’re excited for Daniel to join the program.”
Britt’s stats and accolades are all well reflected in his hudl highlight tape from 2019. There are multiple clips of him dicing up the defense with his passing skills, but also on the ground. One play that stood out is one where he scrambles out of the pocket to avoid the pass rush, and takes the ball with a full head of steam to the house. This play is made notable by a collision that resulted in an opposing defender going flying out of bounds.
At NAU, Britt will be a strong competitor for the starting quarterback position, alongside fellow transfer Kai Millner as well as incumbent Lumberjack sophomore Angel Flores.
Kai Millner [6’2, 215 | QB | Gilbert, AZ / Cal.]
Millner, like Britt, was a backup, however Millner came from a Pac-12 school at the University of California Berkeley. He made three appearances as a backup to Jake Plummer last season, with his best game coming in a blowout loss to Oregon. Millner passed only 10 times, completing eight of them for 114 yards and two touchdowns.
He came out of high school as a four-star recruit and was among the top ten recruits in the state of Arizona in 2020. In his junior year, Millner passed for 2,387 yards and 31 touchdowns while also running for seven additional touchdowns. He faced tough competition in Arizona’s second-highest division, 5A, and finished 4-5 in his final season.
ESPN ranked Millner as the number three recruit in Arizona for the 2020-21 season, and gave him a four-star recruiting rating. On top of that, Millner was named to the preseason All-American team prior to his senior season.
Besides playing quarterback, Millner also played punter, pinning opponents within the 20-yard line on six occasions. He punted the ball only thirty times in his high school career for 882 yards, leading to an average punt of 29.4 yards.
Out of all the recruits covered this week, Millner probably is the most eye-popping. His junior year hudl tape shows him launching the ball downfield with Mahomes-like arm strength into small windows. The Mahomes comparison does not end there, however, as Millner also had many plays where he had to make something out of nothing and lead his team to a first down.
Multiple clips showed him converting first downs with pinpoint accurate passes set up by his mobility in the pocket. One such of these plays came in his final prep football season senior year.
Again drawing more comparison to Mahomes, Millner capped off a Chilly Bowl MVP performance with a backward over-the-head pass to complete a two-point conversion. He finished with 271 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on 27-of-34 passes for a 130.9 quarterback rating and two rushing touchdowns on two carries.
Just like Britt, Millner will compete for the starting job, although with his unique skill set, we may see coaches draw some interesting plays up that involve both of them.
Devon Starling [6’1, 210 | RB | Nashville, Tenn. / Tennessee St.]
Starling is transferring to his third school in four years after spending one season at the University of Memphis and the past two at FCS school Tennessee State. He starred as a member of the Tigers, rushing for 1,987 yards and seven touchdowns and had 56 receptions for 543 yards and one touchdown.
His stardom as a running back started in high school at Cane Ridge, located in Nashville. In his senior season with the Ravens, he rushed for 2,159 yards and 25 touchdowns. 247Sports and ESPN both ranked him as a two-star prospect, and he was recruited by Memphis, Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay as well as other FCS schools.
His hudl highlight tape from his senior season showcases his skills as a running back with elite speed. Nearly every clip shows him slicing through defenses with blistering speed and gaining large chunks of yards in the process.
Starling also played return man in some instances, and one of the more notable clips shows him recovering a short field goal and returning it for a touchdown.
Starling will slot perfectly into the NAU lineup on day one, working closely alongside junior Draycen Hall to provide explosiveness to the Lumberjack backfield.
Ethan Kramer [6’5, 305 | OL | Colorado Springs, Colo. / Northern Colorado] and Krikour Koustanian [6’3, 300 | OL | Aleppo, Syria / Northern Colorado]
Kramer and Koustanian will shore up an NAU offensive line that took some big hits this offseason with the graduation/departures of Jonas Leader and PJ Poutasi. The blocking duo from Big Sky rival Northern Colorado will fit in nicely with a relatively young group of linemen.
Koustanian played primarily at the guard position and Kramer the tackle. The duo helped the Bears rank 15th in the nation by allowing only 1.18 sacks per game.
Jeremiah Trojan [6’2, 219 | LB | Chandler, AZ / UCLA]
Another transfer from a Pac-12 school, Trojan finds himself a new home in Flagstaff after spending two seasons on UCLA’s active roster. The redshirt sophomore saw very limited time as a Bruin and was mainly a reserve.
In high school however Trojan was an electric player. In 2019, he accumulated 97 tackles, 10 of which were tackles for loss and five were sacks. In his prep football career, spanning from 2017-2019, he posted 211 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
The Hamilton Huskies, who also play in Arizona’s top division in 6A, made the semifinals of the playoffs when Trojan was the starter there.
His hudl highlight tape, much like the other recruits on the list, shows just how dominant he was in high school. 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals all gave Trojan a three-star rating.
Clips from his senior season show him getting off the line with blistering speed and making the offensive line have to adjust, which did not always work out in their favor. He also showed his ability to read the running back and adjust himself accordingly so he could make the tackle in the backfield.
Trojan should fit in nicely with an NAU defense that is in need of run-stopping linebackers. He will be an elite competitor come spring ball and a welcome addition to the Lumberjack family.
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