Four other Spartans signed scholarships as well, three with major schools. Linebacker Bobby Jones, the team’s leading tackler signed with Northern Illinois while defensive lineman Jamar Simpkins and cornerback Logan Oce both committed to Western Michigan. Quarterback Benton Voke will take his talents to Wingate University in North Carolina.
“I actually committed to them last summer but when they made the coaching change last December, I wasn’t sure,” said Jones speaking of when Dave Doeren left for North Carolina State. “But when they hired coach [Rod] Carey and kept the linebackers coach [Kevin Kane] who had recruited me, that’s what kept me from looking anyplace else.”
Other signings: Bobby Jones, Northern Illinois; Jamar Simpkins, Western Michigan; Logan Oce, Western Michigan; and Benton Voke, Wingate (N.C) University.
As Central coach Telly Lockette addressed his athletes and others gathered on Signing Day at the school’s library, he asked those listening one question: “What are you going to do when opportunity knocks?”
After coming off a state championship season, seven of his players answered by signing their official letters of intent on Wednesday morning in front of friends, teammates and family members.
“These are the moments when you are most proud of your kids as they sign on the dotted line,” Lockette said.
The big question heading into Signing Day was which school would receive the services of Rockets cornerback Da’Wan Hunte.
With caps from Miami and North Carolina State on the table, Hunte’s little brother, Dante’, ran up to the table and handed his older brother a Purdue hat, marking his decision to become a Boilermaker.
“When I took my visit, I just felt like I was at home,” Hunte said. “As soon as left the campus, I knew that was where I wanted to be.”
Hunte, the Rockets’ team captain, wavered the night before as he weighed his different offers, but ultimately stuck with his decision to go to Purdue.
“I talked it over with my parents and we analyzed everything and I decided that Purdue was the best school for me and my family,” Hunte said. “I want to take care of my business in the classroom and make my impact on the field right away.”
Fellow defensive back Ahmad Thomas (Oklahoma), linebacker Devante Duclos (Western Kentucky), and kicker Emilio Nadelman (University of South Florida) have all begun taking classes at their respective schools.
Outside linebacker Marqez Hodge had his mind made up long before Signing Day and is headed for Syracuse.
Other signings: Emilio Nadelman (USF), De’Vante Duclos (Western Kentucky), Ahmad Thomas (Oklahoma), Da’Wan Hunte (Purdue), Marqez Hodge (Syracuse), Devyn Reid (Howard University), and Christopher Herise (South Carolina State).
Thirteen Hialeah seniors took ink to paper around family, coaches, and friends.
Coach Mark Berman was able to take a perennial power in District 13-8A, and pump out college talent at a rate that was only second to the Hialeah High team of 2011 (17 Signees).
Players such as linebackers George Williams, Jon Rodriguez, and defensive end Ishmal Aurismand signed. Williams and Rodriguez will head to Louisiana Lafayette, and Aurismand will head to Middle Tennessee State University. For Rodriguez this day seemed more of a dream than reality.
“After not being able to play my sophomore and junior year, coach had never given up on me, and he just said keep playing hard and that big offer will come.”
While academics kept Rodriguez out of the spotlight, his 6-2 frame could not keep him under the radar, as he will likely share playing time with his partner in crime for the Ragin Cajuns.
Other Hialeah signees: OL Nathaniel Alzate, Ventura College; LB Jon Rodriguez, ULL; DL Rodrick Stevens, Milford Prep; CB Ronald Washington, Ventura College; LB George Williams, ULL; DL Stevenson Jochim, Ridgewater College; OL Jamel Ribatta, Ventura College; DE Jelifere Alphonse, Ridgewater College; DE Ishmal Aurismand, Middle Tennessee State; RB Cesar Meneses, Santa Monica College; DE Daniel Ortega, Webber International University; DL Paul Guzman, Ventura College; and DL Jerrol Mobely, Northwood College.
Jamal Carter has known for a while where he would be playing his college football.
He finally got to make that decision official Wednesday morning when he put pen to paper and signed his letter of intent to accept a football scholarship to the University of Miami.
The hard-hitting, 6-2, 210-pound safety from Southridge, who originally made a verbal commitment to the Hurricanes on July 26, 2012, along with fellow defensive back Lamar Robbins (USF) pledged their football-playing services on National Signing Day.
“I’m excited to get it over with and to be a part of the UM family, the legacy,” says Carter, who finished his senior season with 73 tackles and an interception. “I’m just ready.”
Carter took visits to LSU and Oklahoma after his commitment to UM, but neither Les Miles nor Mike Stoops could sway him from joining Al Golden and his staff, although Carter says he did contemplate LSU a bit.
“I didn’t really want to go there, but I had hopes of going to LSU,” says Carter, a four-star prospect as the 21st-best safety in the nation, according to Rivals.com. “But then I thought about it, I weighed everything out, I have family down here and I have a lot of things down here, so I decided to stay in Miami.”
He enters a defensive backfield at UM filled with youth that he’ll compete against for playing time. Six returning defensive backs at Miami will either be sophomores or redshirt freshmen next season — two of them safeties.
A potential spot in the lineup could open up for him with the departure of Vaughn Telemaque, a fifth-year senior safety last season. If he can’t find his way onto the field right away, two more seniors senior safeties will be heading out after the 2013 season in Kacy Rodgers and A.J. Highsmith.
Southridge coach Lamont Green says Carter could see playing time from day one at UM.
“I think he can make an immediate impact,” he says. “He has that skill level. He’s a player that you would say is college-ready right now.”
Carter hopes that the additions of he and Northwestern cornerback Artie Burns, along with the heavy influx of defensive backs in the 2012 class, could transform the Hurricane secondary, which has been troublesome in recent years, into a newfound strength of the team
“No fly zone” is what Carter calls it.
He hopes to report to Coral Gables in May.
Carter wasn’t the only Southridge defensive back to sign with an in-state college Wednesday.
Robbins, also a four-star prospect, according to Rivals, inked with USF after committing to new coach Willie Taggart nearly two weeks ago on his official visit to the Tampa campus. Heading into Signing Day, he’s one of two four-stars in the Bulls’ recruiting class that Taggart has scrambled to put together since the firing of Skip Holtz.
“Coach Taggart, he’s real fired up,” says Robbins, who had only been playing defensive back for a year-and-a-half. “He’s a young coach. He’s real into it, so I can see the passion in him.”
He chose the Bulls over Louisville, and he says even though he was already committed to USF, Louisville coaches were still trying to contact him last night to change his mind.
Green sees a bright future for his two signees to come out of his first senior class at Southridge.
“They’re big-time athletes, but they’re better people,” he says. “Today’s a big stepping stone in their life.”
Norland’s National Signing Day ceremony had a special guest star.
San Diego Chargers linebacker Antwan Barnes, a Vikings’ alumnus and FIU standout, had his high school jersey retired.
Barnes was a member of the 2002 Norland state championship team — the first in the school’s history.
Barnes offered some advice to the five players signing Wednesday.
“Whatever you do pledge devotion to everything you do and just have fun,” Barnes told the players.
The five Norland players anchored one of the best defenses in Norland football history signed their college letters of intent Wednesday morning.
Two of Norland’s five signees — linebackers Trayvon Williams and Akeem Barton — chose to follow Barnes’ college path signing with FIU.
“It was a very special time for us and coming from where I was having never played linebacker, I’m just really excited,” Barton said. “I love the coaches FIU has and they are real focused on academics as well as football.”
Star defensive end Paul James signed with the University of Illinois, but had his papers faxed to the school by coach Daryle Heidelburg because James was in Austin, Texas. On Tuesday night, James participated in the USA vs. The World All-Star game.
Linebacker William Townsend signed with Tulane University. Defensive back Shefique Neloms signed with Prairie View A&M in Houston.
The group was part of a three-year run that included a state championship and perfect 15-0 season in 2011 and a state runner-up finish in 2010.
“It was a great experience from when we went and lost to when we won a state championship,” Neloms said. “I feel very blessed to be able to have a chance to play at the next level. I may not be signing at a huge Division I school, but I’m extremely grateful to be here and have this opportunity with my teammates. When I get there, I’m just going to work hard and do everything I can to be successful.”
Andre C. Fernandez
Friends, Family and classmates packed into Palmetto’s auditorium early to see the Panthers largest signing class in over a decade.
“This is a great step in the right direction,” said head football coach Matt Dixon of his eight signees. “I’m really happy for the kids and for the future of our football program.”
Wednell Dunn, a 6-4, 210-pound linebacker for the Panthers signed his letter of intent to Wake Forest.
“There is so much I can benefit from going to Wake,” said Dunn, second-team All-Dade pick. “The education, the ACC and playing against big schools. I hope to be a leader of that team one day.”
Another leader of the Panthers this season was teammate Javon Hadley, 5-11, 170-pound cornerback who signed with the University of Connecticut.
“UConn was the perfect fit for me,” Hadley said. “I’m looking forward to the new experience and meeting my new football family.”
Darien Anderson, all-star linebacker, to Alcorn State. Cornell Gilmore, lineman and district champion wrestler, signed with Northern Michigan. Isiah Scott, running back with team high GPA 3.92, signed with Glenville State.
Rounding off the signing class was offensive lineman Malik Avis, defensive lineman Dwight Pruitt and cornerback Troy Hamilton who have all signed with Edward Waters College in Jacksonville.
Six Gulliver seniors, three apiece from the gridiron and pitch, signed letters of intent, but one athlete was conspicuously absent.
The crop of Raiders was headlined by running back Bo Ellis, who amassed consecutive 1,200-yard seasons in his junior and senior years. Ellis sports a 3.6 GPA and will attend Harvard in the fall.
“It was an easy decision for me,” Ellis said. “It only took me like a week to decide. I mean, it’s Harvard.”
“He is an incredible kid who has accomplished and overcome so much,” said Gulliver coach Earl Sims.
However, Raider linebacker Stacy Thomas — a four-star recruit who has recently visited Texas Tech and Kansas State — did not announce his intentions Wednesday. School officials said he is still weighing his options and has not set a timetable to announce his choice.
“Whoever gets Stacy Thomas is going to get a stud,” Sims said.
Grant Siegel and Jordi Dalmau will both anchor the Colgate offensive line in the coming years.
As Gulliver’s girls soccer team prepares for its second consecutive state finals appearance later this week, three of its top players shared the stage Wednesday. Nicole Harris (Troy), Kai-Lin Hernandez (High Point) and Sofia Trujillo (San Diego State) each signed their letters of intent.
Carol City’s Simeon Thomas will be attending Louisiana-Lafayette.
“Louisiana-Lafayette was a great environment,” said the 6-3 safety, Thomas. “My mom and my dad influenced me. They did not find out where I was going until two days ago. I kind of kept it a secret.”
Cornerback Jalen Alexander will be joining Thomas at Louisiana-Lafayette. Alexander, who has a 4.0 GPA, will be attending on an academic scholarship and majoring in criminal justice.
Athlete Edward Rolle is going to Western Michigan. Defensive linemen Aaron Thomas will be attending Dodge City Community College.
Quarterback Akeem Jones did not sign Wednesday morning. “He might sign with Syracuse tomorrow,” said Chiefs coach Harold Barnwell.