Birchfield, Skelton sign on with out-of-state colleges
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

April 27, 2004 -- A pair of Sulphur Springs Wildcats inked letter of intent Tuesday morning to play football at out-of-state colleges.

Outside linebacker Brandon Skelton signed on with Southwest Oklahoma State University, while kicker/punter Blake Birchfield agreed to go to Southwest Baptist University in Missouri.

They were the seventh and eighth Wildcats to sign football letters of intent and the 11th members of the SSHS senior class to agree to play some sport at the collegiate level. At least two more seniors are expected to sign letters of intent before graduation.

"I've said all along this senior class is a good one, and they continue to show that," said SSHS head football coach Brad Turner. "They're a great group of kids.

"Brandon and Blake were great players for us. They've both done well at other sports, and they're fine young men. They are both going to smaller schools, and I think they'll fit in well and have a chance to play."

Skelton (5-9, 175) was a state qualifier in power lifting the last two years as well as being a Second Team All-District pick in football at outside linebacker in 2003 and an Honorable Mention running back in 2002. He was selected Honorable Mention Academic All-State his senior season and was chosen by his teammates as a permanent captain.

He accumulated 48 tackles with a fumble recovery as a senior. He is expected to play outside linebacker at SOSU, where he will major in sports medicine.

"It's a really good school for me. They've got tradition there, and they have great fans," Skelton said. "They have good academics there. It's just a great place to play."

Birchfield was a First Team All-District selection at both punter and kicker his senior year. As a junior, he was a Second Team All-State pick. He made 6-of-10 field goals in 2003 with 44 extra points. He also averaged 37.5 yards per punt with eight of them downed inside the 20.

He will begin his college career as a kicker, though Birchfield said the coaches also indicated they may want to try him at punter as well.

"It's a small school and something I can adapt to real quick," he said. "(Former Wildcat) Klint King is there, so I think I can adjust there."

Coach Turner said finding guys a place to play is all about making it a comfortable fit.

"You've got to find the right fit academically, the distance away from home, those types of things," Turner said. "The bottom line is, if a kid really has a desire to play, we can find a place that fits them. Ninety-nine percent of it is they have to have a desire to play.

"Those two guys will do well, and they certainly were a big part of our success this year. That adds to our dilemma this spring, because they're too big pieces we have to replace."

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