After living their dream and winning a state championship in football, now the next stage of their life begins.Eight Sulphur Springs football players signed national letters of intent to continue their playing days on various gridirons in and around the state. Some of the players had been heavily recruited for months, but several go trecently noticed during the 14-2 state championship run for the Wildcats.
When college coaches want a player who can handle big time pressure, they usually come to the champions.
Signing Wednesday were: Tyrik Rollison – Auburn; Colton Nash – Arkansas; Jace Jackson – Sam Houston; Johnny McSheffery – West Texas A&M; Jameison Dial – Southern Arkansas; Anthony Mills – Tyler Junior College; Rashad Hall – Tyler Junior College; Darrell Franklin – East Texas Baptist University.
All-state running back Ryan Young is still undecided, he has a visit set up with the United States Air Force Academy.
Greg Owens, the head coach of the Wildcats, was beaming like a proud parent at the ceremony and was overjoyed to see so many sign at one time. It was the most Wildcats to ink college football scholarships since eight signed in 1995.
Owens looked over the crowded room full of coaches, players and reporters from print and electronic media in the Wildcat Room and told the parents “not to get emotional, this is supposed to be a fun time.”
“This is an exciting time. These guys were all great to coach, we are going to miss them, that is for sure,” Owens said.
Owens then talked about each player individually.
Rollison, one of the top ranked dual-threat quarterbacks in the United States, finally answered questions about his college selection.
“Tyrik will do well at Auburn, he has all the tools. He has a great arm, good speed and great awareness on the field, he’s got natural athletic ability. He’s best I have ever coached at his position. Being a quarterback just came naturally to him, I think that goes back to him being a point guard in basketball. He wants to distribute the ball.”
“Tyrik can do it all. He has handled all the recruiting very well,” Owens said. “He’s really matured and is a big time player.”
Rollison said he is glad the recruiting time is over, he was overwhelmed by coaches wanting him in their program since his junior year. He said once teams found out he was going to Auburn they did not call back.
“I just felt like I fit in well at Auburn,” Rollison said. “They treated me like I was their brother, so that is where I want to spend the next three of four years. I liked the atmosphere. I know the talent will be good, but I am going down there to compete for a job.”
Owens continued, talking about Colton Nash, “It’s great Colton gets to go to Arkansas and fill out his great, big body. He will grow, mature and be a great player for them. He is very happy with the situation and I think he can achieve big things at Arkansas.”
Owens said he Rollison at Auburn and Nash at Arkansas, he has two players in the Southeast Conference who will probably see playing time against each other.
Concerning Jace Jackson, Owens said, “Jace going to Sam Houston is a great fit. He has worked hard and he wants to win. He will be playing for Todd Whitten at Sam Houston, he was the quarterback when I played at SFA. Jace will be a credit to their program.”
Jackson said, “They threw for more than 3,500 yards last year. I want to go down there and help them, being a position receiver. I think with my size (6-3, 195-pounds) I can get free from the jams at the line of scrimmage. I can get even make some catches over the middle.”
Owens spoke about McSheffery, “Johnny is a hard-nosed player and he worked hard. He will be an good player at West Texas they can use his leadership. I am excited for him. He will do a good job for them. He wants to be a coach, so playing out there will be a great experience for him.”
On Dial going to Southern Arkansas, the coach said, “Jameison has blossomed, just the last part of this season. He will add weight onto his frame. We kept encouraging him and good things have happened. He has overcome some obstacles to get to this point and I am very happy he will get to play college football.”
“Anthony Mills and Rashad Hall will do well at Tyler Junior College,” Owens said. “Mills is an explosive player. I think back to the ESPN2 game and the way he made big plays and changed momentum in that game for us. He is a game changer and will be great if he plays at safety or as a corner. He has the personality to fit and be a contributor. Hall is a special kid with a great hands and he can play running back or wide receiver. I played high school ball with his dad, Rodney, so it is good to see someone I am connected with get the chance to play college ball.”
Darrell Franklin’s signing with East Texas Baptist is something which only came about in the last few days, Owens said.
“Darrell is undersized, but he has a huge heart. He has overcome many things to get to this point. I am proud of all the hard work he has put in. I know the coach well at East Texas Baptist University, Mark Sartain, he’s a great coach and a quality person, he will treat Darrell right. He’s good to a good program with a system he will get the chance to play in right away.”
Owens added, “This group has been great, they have been able to soak up the limelight of winning state. They’ve signed a few autographs and been really great ambassadors for the school and the community. Now they get to go play college and have a chance to grow and develop. Many of them might not have a chance at college and have it paid for by football. I am happy to see these guys sign.”
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