Vandals add four JC players
Courtesy: Idaho Athletic Media Relations
          Release: 12/18/2009
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Four junior college players - two offensive and two defensive, will join the Idaho Vandals in January.

Looking to add line depth, shore up the secondary and restock the receiving corps, Robb Akey and his staff have signed receiver Armauni Johnson out of West Los Angeles Junior College, offensive lineman Sam Tupua out of Palomar Junior College, defensive tackle Ben Swarts out of Arizona Western, and safety Thaad Thompson from Ellsworth Community College.

Johnson, at 6-4, 210, caught 80 passes totaling 796 yards during his two seasons with West LA. Akey likes what he's seen in the Jacksonville, Fla., native.

"He's tall, has great hands and very, very good speed," Akey said. "He'll be able to come in and compete for a job. He's a very skilled player and will be very competitive here and in the WAC."

Tupua, 6-3, 320 pounds and originally from Wilmington, Calif., was part of an offensive unit that averaged 429 yards total offense per game and yielded just 12 sacks during the season.

"Sam is a big, strong kid with very good feet," said Akey of Tupua, who played at guard and center at Palomar. "He has the ability to win a starting position - or make it harder for someone else to win one. I'm excited to have him."

Swarts brings size (6-2, 285) into the defensive line competition. His competitiveness and athletic ability were highlighted when, as a high school senior, the wrestling coach at Ironwood High School (Tucson, Ariz.) approached him about coming out for the team so it wouldn't have to forfeit every heavyweight make for lack of a wrestler. Swarts wound up the undefeated state champion.

"He's a big, thick strong kid," Akey said. "He will add size and strength to the defensive line interior."

Thompson, at 6-3, 215, has the ability to add a physicality to the secondary. Originally from Margate, Fla., he had 27 total tackles and three tackles for loss in 2009 for 8-3 Ellsworth.

"He has great speed and is very physical," Akey said. "He's physical enough he could be a linebacker but he should compete for a starting job at safety."

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