MURRAY -- On Dec. 31, 2019, Dean Hood was roaming the Bank of America sidelines in Charlotte, North Carolina, under Mark Stoops -- helping the Kentucky Wildcats claw their way to a riveting, last-second 37-30 win over the Virginia Tech Hokies

Three days later, he and his newly assembled staff were poring over film of their new team in Murray, Kentucky -- the Murray State Racers -- and a bunch of recruiting tape, with four weeks to somehow prepare, present and serve up a Class of 2020.

Wednesday afternoon at Roy Stewart Stadium, Hood was able to take a short breath, talk about his 14 new players on the roster, and then describe the insane pace of the last month for he and his eight new assistant coaches and staffers working on the fly.

"I don't know if there's a way to explain it," Hood said. "The last time I was a head coach going home at night, I remember my wife would say: 'Honey, how was your day?' And I'd just shake my head and be like,'I can't explain it.'

"After about four or five days of that -- 'Honey, how was your day?' -- I took a legal pad, and I literally wrote down everything that had happened to me that day, and I went home. And my wife said, 'Honey, how was your day?' And I said: 'Here.' She looked through it, and she never asked me again.'

"The only way I could explain it is if I wrote everything down and handed it to you, because it's been absolute madness. It got a little bit better there on Jan. 3, because we were 100% focused on one job … (and) it was a little bit better. Maybe one've the most difficult things I've done: work the bowl and then try to finish well there, and at the same time wanting to start here and doing a good job weighing on you, and kind of being handcuffed on how with much you couldn't do, because (we) still didn't have a staff. (My) Twitter account still had 'Kentucky' on it. Just too many things to even talk about."

But certain things became much clearer for the Racers on Wednesday, and without Hood's legal pad.

Of the 14 recruits:

• None are from outside a five-hour driving radius of Murray.

• With none on the current roster, Hood snatched up three tight ends: Atlanta native Jalan Davis (6-3, 242); Nashville, Tennessee, native Cole McDowell (6-5, 223); and Carriere, Mississippi, native D.J. Ruff (6-4, 238).

• Two quarterbacks, Mayfield's Jayden Stinson and Harvey, Illinois' D.J. Williams, were an absolute priority, as there are only three signal-callers on the current roster (Preston Rice, Brandon Wharton II and Joby Jaggers).

• And the two new running backs, Pinetops, North Carolina, native Cortezz Jones (6-1, 228) and East St. Louis native DaMonta Witherspoon (5-9, 201), step on to campus already bigger than any running back currently with the team.

"We're going to 11-personnel (one tight end), 12-personnel (two tight ends)," Hood said. "We're going to be what we've got to be to win, and we're going to use the parts that we have here right now. But where we would like to go is 11-personnel, 12-personnel. That's not to say you can't do things out of 10-personnel, because you can.

"But there's no question: we want to be a physical football team, and tight ends help you do that. And that's not going to say you're not going to throw the ball with those guys, either. All these kids can run and catch the football."

MSU Football Recruiting Class

Jayden Stinson · QB · 6-2 · 200 · Mayfield, Ky. (Mayfield HS)

The 2019 All-Purchase Player of the Year, Stinson helped lead Mayfield to its 24th state finals appearance and third in a row. He averaged 262.0 passing yards per game last season for the Cardinals which was the sixth highest total in the state. He ended his career with 9,550 yards, 114 touchdowns and an impressive 65-percent completion percentage.

DJ Williams · QB · 6-3 · 190 · Harvey, Ill. (Thornton, HS)

Williams is a true two-sport star for Thornton, where he excels on the football field and on the basketball court. Williams was named to the 2019 IHSFCA Class 7A All-State team, and he is currently thriving in his senior season for basketball, as his Wildcats are currently 22-1 on the year and ranked fourth in all of Illinois.

Cortezz Jones · RB · 6-1 · 228 · Pinetops, N.C. (Southwest Edgecombe HS)

Jones was a terror for opposing defenses last season, racking up 1,302 yards for the Cougars, to go along with the 23 touchdowns. He averaged 8.2 yards per carry for Southwest Edgecombe last year and tallied six games of 100-plus rushing yards, while also catching 13 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Following the season, he was selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American bowl and earned 2A All-Classification second-team honors.

DaMonta Witherspoon · RB · 5-9 · 201 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

A key piece to East St. Louis 14-0 season, Witherspoon led the St. Louis area in scoring in 2019. He racked up 1,742 yards and 35 touchdowns on the year to go along with 12 two-point conversions. For his efforts, the three-star recruit was named as a first-team All-Southwest Conference selection following the season. In his final two seasons with the Flyers, Witherspoon amassed 56 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards.

Cole McDowell · TE · 6-5 · 223 · Nashville, Tenn. (Lipscomb Academy)

Coached by former NFL quarterback and analyst Trent Dilfer, McDowell played a key role in Lipscomb's run to the 2019 Division II Class AA semi-finals as a tight end, in addition to playing on defense and on all special teams.

Jalan Davis · TE · 6-3 · 242 · Atlanta, Ga. (Maynard Jackson HS)

Davis had a solid senior season for Jackson, where he had 43 tackles on the season including 15.0 for loss and 4.0 sacks. He finished his career with 130 tackles including 28.0 for loss and 11.0 sacks. As a tight end, Davis averaged 17.6 yards per catch on the year for the Jaguars.

DJ Ruff · TE · 6-4 · 238 · Carriere, Miss. (Pearl River Central HS)

Ruff possess extreme play-making abilities, great hands and runs a 4.87 40-yard dash.

Blake Moody · OL · 6-3 · 270 · Madisonville, Ky. (Madisonville North Hopkins HS)

Moody was a key player in Madisonville North Hopkins's history-making 2019 season in which they claimed their first region championship in 48 years and advanced to the state semifinals. He anchored an offensive line which averaged over 400 yards per game, including 263.9 on the ground. Defensively, he notched 100 tackles for the Maroons with 23.0 for loss and 5.0 sacks

DJ Jones · OL · 6-6 · 280 · Jackson, Ala. (Jackson HS)

Jones anchored an offensive line that helped Jackson score 29.0 points per game, on its way to a playoff win. For his efforts in the 2019 season, Jones was named to the 2019 Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Class 5A second team as an offensive lineman. Jones is also a two-sport star, currently serving as the center for Jackson's basketball team.

Dylan Appleton · DB · 5-10 · 180 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

A two-star rated recruit by 247Sports, Appleton played a key role in the Flyers' stellar season, and helped lead East St. Louis to an undefeated season and a Class 6A Illinois state title. In the title game against Prairie Ridge, Appleton came up with a huge fourth-quarter interception that allowed East St. Louis to score on its ensuing drive and clinch the championship.

Jamari Dailey · DB · 6-0 · 171 · Pinson, Ala. (Pinson Valley HS)

Dailey had an outstanding senior season for Pinson Valley in which he earned first-team All-Tribune honors and second-team All-South Metro honors. Racked up 39.5 total tackles for the Indians in 2019, of which 35 were solo stops. In addition, he ended the year with six interceptions, including two games with two interceptions. An athlete through and through Dailey also competes on the track and field team in the 100m, 200m, long jump and triple jump.

Markel Dailey · DB · 6-0 · 165 · Pinson, Ala. (Pinson Valley HS)

Dailey came up big for Pinson Valley in 2019, tallying 36.5 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and four interceptions. For his play, he was named to the All-Tribune second team and as an All-South Metro honorable mention. In the offseason, Dailey ran track for Pinson Valley where he competed in the 200m, 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, triple jump and the long jump.

Lawaun Powell · LB · 5-11 · 192 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

Powell was instrumental in East St. Louis' undefeated, state championship 2019 campaign. The three-star recruit is currently the 14th top prospect in the state of Illinois, according to Rivals. He caught 50 passes for 800 yards and four scores in 2019 and finished his career with the Flyers with 2,310 yards for 132 receptions and 29 touchdowns. Defensively, he was also a force to be reckoned with as he tallied 58 tackles and 3.0 sacks. Powell is also a Racer legacy, as his father played at Murray State for head coach Denver Johnson in 1997.

Cade Shupperd · LB · 6-2 · 225 · Brownsburg, Ind. (Brownsburg HS)

Shupperd led Brownsburg in 2019 with 65 total tackles including 37 solo stops. In addition, he also racked up 2.0 sacks, 12.0 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles. For his outstanding play in his final year with the Bulldogs, Shupperd was named to the 2019 Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 6A All-State Senior team as a linebacker.

MSU Football Recruiting Class

Jayden Stinson · QB · 6-2 · 200 · Mayfield, Ky. (Mayfield HS)

The 2019 All-Purchase Player of the Year, Stinson helped lead Mayfield to its 24th state finals appearance and third in a row. He averaged 262.0 passing yards per game last season for the Cardinals which was the sixth highest total in the state. He ended his career with 9,550 yards, 114 touchdowns and an impressive 65-percent completion percentage.

DJ Williams · QB · 6-3 · 190 · Harvey, Ill. (Thornton, HS)

Williams is a true two-sport star for Thornton, where he excels on the football field and on the basketball court. Williams was named to the 2019 IHSFCA Class 7A All-State team, and he is currently thriving in his senior season for basketball, as his Wildcats are currently 22-1 on the year and ranked fourth in all of Illinois.

Cortezz Jones · RB · 6-1 · 228 · Pinetops, N.C. (Southwest Edgecombe HS)

Jones was a terror for opposing defenses last season, racking up 1,302 yards for the Cougars, to go along with the 23 touchdowns. He averaged 8.2 yards per carry for Southwest Edgecombe last year and tallied six games of 100-plus rushing yards, while also catching 13 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Following the season, he was selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American bowl and earned 2A All-Classification second-team honors.

DaMonta Witherspoon · RB · 5-9 · 201 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

A key piece to East St. Louis 14-0 season, Witherspoon led the St. Louis area in scoring in 2019. He racked up 1,742 yards and 35 touchdowns on the year to go along with 12 two-point conversions. For his efforts, the three-star recruit was named as a first-team All-Southwest Conference selection following the season. In his final two seasons with the Flyers, Witherspoon amassed 56 touchdowns and over 3,000 yards.

Cole McDowell · TE · 6-5 · 223 · Nashville, Tenn. (Lipscomb Academy)

Coached by former NFL quarterback and analyst Trent Dilfer, McDowell played a key role in Lipscomb's run to the 2019 Division II Class AA semi-finals as a tight end, in addition to playing on defense and on all special teams.

Jalan Davis · TE · 6-3 · 242 · Atlanta, Ga. (Maynard Jackson HS)

Davis had a solid senior season for Jackson, where he had 43 tackles on the season including 15.0 for loss and 4.0 sacks. He finished his career with 130 tackles including 28.0 for loss and 11.0 sacks. As a tight end, Davis averaged 17.6 yards per catch on the year for the Jaguars.

DJ Ruff · TE · 6-4 · 238 · Carriere, Miss. (Pearl River Central HS)

Ruff possess extreme play-making abilities, great hands and runs a 4.87 40-yard dash.

Blake Moody · OL · 6-3 · 270 · Madisonville, Ky. (Madisonville North Hopkins HS)

Moody was a key player in Madisonville North Hopkins's history-making 2019 season in which they claimed their first region championship in 48 years and advanced to the state semifinals. He anchored an offensive line which averaged over 400 yards per game, including 263.9 on the ground. Defensively, he notched 100 tackles for the Maroons with 23.0 for loss and 5.0 sacks

DJ Jones · OL · 6-6 · 280 · Jackson, Ala. (Jackson HS)

Jones anchored an offensive line that helped Jackson score 29.0 points per game, on its way to a playoff win. For his efforts in the 2019 season, Jones was named to the 2019 Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State Class 5A second team as an offensive lineman. Jones is also a two-sport star, currently serving as the center for Jackson's basketball team.

Dylan Appleton · DB · 5-10 · 180 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

A two-star rated recruit by 247Sports, Appleton played a key role in the Flyers' stellar season, and helped lead East St. Louis to an undefeated season and a Class 6A Illinois state title. In the title game against Prairie Ridge, Appleton came up with a huge fourth-quarter interception that allowed East St. Louis to score on its ensuing drive and clinch the championship.

Jamari Dailey · DB · 6-0 · 171 · Pinson, Ala. (Pinson Valley HS)

Dailey had an outstanding senior season for Pinson Valley in which he earned first-team All-Tribune honors and second-team All-South Metro honors. Racked up 39.5 total tackles for the Indians in 2019, of which 35 were solo stops. In addition, he ended the year with six interceptions, including two games with two interceptions. An athlete through and through Dailey also competes on the track and field team in the 100m, 200m, long jump and triple jump.

Markel Dailey · DB · 6-0 · 165 · Pinson, Ala. (Pinson Valley HS)

Dailey came up big for Pinson Valley in 2019, tallying 36.5 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and four interceptions. For his play, he was named to the All-Tribune second team and as an All-South Metro honorable mention. In the offseason, Dailey ran track for Pinson Valley where he competed in the 200m, 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, triple jump and the long jump.

Lawaun Powell · LB · 5-11 · 192 · East St. Louis, Ill. (East St. Louis HS)

Powell was instrumental in East St. Louis' undefeated, state championship 2019 campaign. The three-star recruit is currently the 14th top prospect in the state of Illinois, according to Rivals. He caught 50 passes for 800 yards and four scores in 2019 and finished his career with the Flyers with 2,310 yards for 132 receptions and 29 touchdowns. Defensively, he was also a force to be reckoned with as he tallied 58 tackles and 3.0 sacks. Powell is also a Racer legacy, as his father played at Murray State for head coach Denver Johnson in 1997.

Cade Shupperd · LB · 6-2 · 225 · Brownsburg, Ind. (Brownsburg HS)

Shupperd led Brownsburg in 2019 with 65 total tackles including 37 solo stops. In addition, he also racked up 2.0 sacks, 12.0 tackles for loss and forced three fumbles. For his outstanding play in his final year with the Bulldogs, Shupperd was named to the 2019 Indiana Football Coaches Association Class 6A All-State Senior team as a linebacker.

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