It’s called National Signing Day, but around the country it’s mostly trumpeted as Football National Signing Day. The “football” part of it is just implied.
But nowhere was it more evident that signing day encompasses all manner of sports than at the Midway High School theater.
Midway’s well-rounded athletic program produced 25 college signees in 12 sports who took part in Wednesday’s cupcake and balloon-festooned festivities. Some of those athletes actually signed their letters of intent during the fall signing period in November, but Midway capitalized on the hoopla of February’s signing day to honor those athletes again.
“What a great atmosphere,” Midway football coach Jeff Hulme said. “To have this theater packed out with students and families and friends, and celebrating athletes, and what it does for the younger kids who are out here, it gives them some inspiration to want to be on that stage next year. I’m just glad to be here, and am real pleased with our first year.”
The Panthers turned out five football signees following Hulme’s first season at the helm, which produced an 8-3 record and a District 8-6A title. Defensive back D’Unte Brown will move on to Texas A&M-Commerce, defensive tackle Brian Holiday is headed to Northwestern (Okla.) State, backup quarterback Josh Owen will travel west to Riverside City (Calif.) College, running back Djimon “D.J.” West inked with Bacone (Okla.) College and safety Hunter Williamson will play for Hardin-Simmons.
“I think everywhere they’re going, they’re going to do great,” Hulme said. “I talked to every one of their coaches, and they’re excited about them. I don’t want to single any particular person out, but I think Josh is going to surprise a lot of people. He’s got the size and the arm strength to mature and move on. And I think D’Unte Brown, going to Texas A&M-Commerce, is a steal. I think a lot of bigger schools missed out on him.”
Brown reveled in the signing day spotlight, flashing a toothy grin for the crowd and embracing in his mother in a tight hug.
“Man, this is a day I’ve been waiting for since I was a little kid, since middle school,” Brown said. “Going to the games, dreaming about me being on the field, it’s my turn to sign. I’ve just been dreaming about today, and I’m just really blessed to sign with this school.”
Next year’s football class could be even bigger for Midway. Several Panther juniors already own offers from Division I programs, including quarterback Tanner Mordecai, defensive tackle Jaxon Player and offensive lineman Hakeem White.
“We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve had some kids get some offers, some D-I offers,” Midway athletic director Brad Shelton said. “I told Coach Hulme the other day, ‘You’ve got a little pressure now. You’ve got a few D-I guys.’”
In addition to the 12 athletes who made their decisions official in November but participated in Wednesday’s event, others who signed for Midway included gymnastics’ Peyton Smith (Hawaii Pacific), baseball’s Matthew Young (Schreiner), girls’ soccer standout Kennedy Clark (UMHB), boys’ soccer player Thomas Meehan (Rose-Hulman), girls’ basketball’s Barbara Benson, who will join her older sister Marie at UT-San Antonio, cross country/track’s Peter Ferretter (Vassar College) and golfer Daniel Seibert (Abilene Christian).
It’s reflective of an athletic program that excels across the board.
“I take it one step further. I think it’s a representation of our community,” Shelton said. “They love athletics, they pour themselves into it, they pour their kids into it. It’s really to be something to be very proud of, and it’s a great place to live.”