It was only a few minutes after he officially became a member of the University of Alabama’s latest signing class on Wednesday that the requests started to come in for La Vega tight end Kedrick James.
To each one, he answered with a smile on his face.
“Roll Tide,” James repeated several times.
James, a four-star prospect who was originally committed to Baylor, was the big name on the auditorium stage for La Vega’s nine-person signing class — the biggest signing class in school history, doubling last year’s — but he was happy to share the spotlight with seven of his teammates and softball player Dakota Smith, who signed with Lyons (Ark.) College.
“La Vega means a lot to me, the city of Bellmead, all the high school football fans, my friends and family mean so much to me,” James said. “They pushed me to get to this point. Without them, I wouldn’t be talking to you today.”
James, a Super Centex pick, and his fellow signees got the star treatment on National Signing Day, putting their signatures to paper in front of a packed auditorium.
Two other seniors and Super Centex picks also signed — defensive lineman Fred Rogers with NCAA Division III national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor and offensive lineman Henry Dawson with Cisco College.
And it was Dawson who stole the show, showing up in a royal blue sport coat and blue paisley bow tie to match his Cisco hat. He drew the biggest cheers from the crowd as he was introduced by La Vega assistant and recruiting honcho Robert Glynn as Henry “The Undefeated” Dawson.
“Man, it’s just crazy,” Dawson said. “I want to thank God, because I’m here because of him, and also thank the coaching staff at La Vega. The fans, I love them as much as they love me. We’re all family here.”
Defensive back Ashtyn Bledsoe also signed with Cisco. Defensive back Jamun Guilford signed with Tarleton State, wide receiver Baylon Ware signed with Texas-Permian Basin, wide receiver Sir Morgan Loudd signed with Texas A&M-Commerce and defensive lineman Travion Shepard signed with Southwestern Assemblies of God.
Longtime La Vega coach Willie Williams spoke about the class, pointing out that they won a Class 4A Division I state title as juniors, and implored them to look at Wednesday as a jumping-off point.
“More than anything, I want you to look at this moment as a beginning,” Williams said. “After we leave this stage, the work doesn’t stop. Look at your scholarships as a beginning to something, because you’re going to have to go out and work.
“Don’t go out and blow it. Finish.”
James, 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, got a personal visit from Alabama coach Nick Saban last week, something he said he couldn’t have envisioned just two years ago.
“If you would’ve asked me a few years ago if I would’ve been in this situation, I would’ve said ‘No,’ ” James said. “Being recruited by one of the best coaches in the nation is special. He said that hard work and talent go hand-in-hand, and he felt like I have both, which means a lot to me.”