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Signing Day roundup: Spotlight shines on variety of Centex athletes

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It’s been almost three years since the NCAA approved an early signing day for Division I college football programs, but the new way has already become the new normal.

While some of the hoorahs over college football recruiting now come before Christmas — most of the heavily recruited prospects are signing in December these days — the altered system has at least one major, probably unintended consequence.

Now the February signing day is an opportunity for athletes from all fields to share the stage in an equal spotlight.

On Wednesday, in many cases football players signed their letters alongside classmates from the baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis teams.

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Robinson High School students capture the moment for Rockets athletes Colby Crow and Jordan Rogers as they sign their letters of intent.

Robinson senior Jordan Rogers, a standout wide receiver for the Rockets last season, had his signing day to continue his baseball career.

Rogers, a Super Centex Baseball first-team pitcher as a junior in 2019, signed with Wichita State. He picked the Shockers over offers from Houston and Texas State.

The Robinson senior said the atmosphere surrounding the Kansas school sold him.

“Everybody in that town loves Wichita State,” Rogers said. “They have a really strong fan base. It made me excited to be a part of it.”

Wichita State has reached the College World Series seven times and defeated Texas to claim the national championship in 1989. The Shockers, who last made the NCAA Tournament in 2013, are building toward their first postseason appearance since joining the American Athletic Conference in 2018.

Rogers said he was recruited as a shortstop and won’t be content just to be a part of the Wichita State program.

“I envision myself going there and competing, trying to earn a spot as a freshman,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to be satisfied just going to college. I want to aim higher for myself. I’m going to do everything I can to help be in that position.”

Rogers was joined in the Robinson signing ceremony by football teammate Colby Crow, who signed with McMurry University in Abilene.

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Robinson High School’s Colby Crow (left) signed to play football at McMurry while Jordan Rogers opted to play baseball at Wichita State.

War Hawks raid Central Texas

Crow, who played safety for the Rockets, committed to McMurry on Monday after the school began to show an interest in him in the last few weeks.

“I could see what they’re building,” Crow said. “I love the city of Abilene and everything they’re building. They have a lot of great coaches that just came in, so I can’t wait to go down there.”

McMurry is led by head coach Jordan Neal, who is heading into his second season at the school. Neal and the War Hawks found fertile recruiting ground in Central Texas as they signed players from multiple area schools.

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Waco High’s Jordan Becerra signs with McMurry University.

Waco High offensive lineman Jordan Becerra inked his letter with McMurry early on Wednesday morning at the Lions’ gym.

“They’re trying to change the program right now and the culture around there and I want to be a part of that,” Becerra said. “That’s what I really liked about them. Right when I got there it felt like family.”

Waco High pair chooses Howard Payne

Lions defensive teammates Keith Guillory Jr. and Dai’Shawn Fisher echoed each other in saying Howard Payne felt like the right fit for them.

The Lions football duo traveled together to Brownwood for an official visit and came away with the same vibe.

“The atmosphere was good, the coaches were good and the bond was just there,” Guillory said. “When I stepped on campus, it just felt like home.”

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Waco High’s Dai’shawn Fisher signs with Howard Payne University.

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Waco High’s Keith Guillory Jr. has decided to play for Howard Payne University.

Guillory and Fisher each encountered coaches at Howard Payne that had a plan for how they could make an impact with the Yellow Jackets.

“When we got there, they had watched our film and said what it was about me that really attracted them,” Fisher said. “They liked my physicality and things like that. It made me feel like they were expecting me to fit in and be part of the team.

China Spring trio going three different ways

Signing Day 2020

China Spring's Jabril Powell (football , Bethel College), Elizabeth Paul (softball, UMHB) and K.J. Peoples (football, Hardin-Simmons) signed letters of intent Wednesday.

China Spring softball pitcher Elisabeth Paul and football teammates K.J. Peoples and Jabril Powell signed their national letters of intent early Wednesday afternoon at the Cougars’ gym.

Paul, who committed to Mary Hardin-Baylor as a sophomore, finally made that choice official. She said it was as much about her academic field as the chance to continue her softball career.

“I was really sold on it because they have my major,” Paul said. “UMHB is one of three schools in Texas that had my major (physical therapy). I got other offers, but I didn’t look too deep into it. That was just set.”

Peoples showed off his athleticism by playing a wide range of positions for China Spring last season. He was pressed into duty at quarterback for part of the season, but thrived playing wide receiver and running back.

Signing Day 2020

China Spring's Jabril Powell (football, Bethel College0, Elizabeth Paul (softball, UMHB) and K.J. Peoples (football, Hardin-Simmons) made their college selections official on Wednesday.

Hardin-Simmons took notice and Peoples found the right fit with the Cowboys.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to be an athlete and play everything,” Peoples said. “I’ll probably start out and kick and punt return.”

Powell, a versatile offensive lineman for China Spring, inked with Bethel College in Newton, Kan.

“It was amazing,” Powell said. “It’s like a bigger version of China Spring. All family.”

Trio of Lorena athletes ink letters

Signing Day 2020

Lorena athletes Savanna Hoff, who signed with Schreiner College, Damiana Longo, who signed with Vernon College, and Kynlee Bartosh, who signed with Millsaps College, smile on National Signing Day.

Over at Lorena, a trio of girls athletes in three different sports signed letters of intent, reflecting the overall consistency of the Lady Leopard girls athletic program. Kynlee Bartosh is headed to Millsaps (Miss.) College to play volleyball, Damiana Longo will join Vernon College’s softball program, and Savannah Hoff signed to join the basketball program at Schreiner University in Kerrville.

All three athletes mentioned the smaller size of their college choice as one of the features that attracted them to it, kind of bringing that small-town Lorena charm that they grew up with.

“It’s beautiful up there,” Hoff said. “I just fell in love with the (Schreiner) campus. As soon as I set foot on it, the coaches are just amazing. I just love the atmosphere of the teammates and everything, and how they’re really a team and a family.”

Longo called the recruiting process “exciting,” but was also happy that signing day had arrived. After all, she has a senior softball season that’ll start in less than two weeks.

“I was kind of late in the game with recruiting and everything, so it’s exciting to know that I finally signed,” she said. “I want to go far in the playoffs this year, and I think we can do it. I think we have a lot of potential this year.”

Bartosh looked a little wide-eyed over the hoopla of Lorena’s signing day ceremony in the gym. But she couldn’t help but get caught up in the energy of it all.

“It’s a big milestone. I’ve always dreamed about it since I was a little kid,” she said.

Midway celebrates another giant class

Signing Day 2020

Midway High School recognized 22 senior athletes on National Signing Day.

Even having been a part of a few of these ceremonies by now, Midway athletic director Brad Shelton couldn’t help but beam. As Midway’s class of 22 senior athletes posed for photos, Shelton remarked, “It really is pretty cool, isn’t it?”

It is indeed.

Midway brought a parade of standout athletes to its auditorium stage, representing seven different sports. Even though some had signed in November and December, they each received their moment under the stage lights and got to pose for additional photos.

Jeff Hulme’s football program celebrated 10 players who will play at the next level. That group included a pair who will play Division I football at the service academies, as offensive lineman Wesley Ndago is bound for the Air Force and linebacker Brian Burton will attend West Point and play for Army.

Other football signees included running back/receiver Will Nixon with Nebraska, defensive end Luke Horner with Houston Baptist, receiver Eli Garvin with Mary Hardin-Baylor, linebacker JB Brown with Navarro College, defensive lineman Carson Byrd with Trinity University, defensive end Braden Endsley with Austin College, and receiver Kaleb Fonteneaux with Hardin Simmons. Additionally, kicker Bryce Boland — the son of Baylor men’s tennis coach David Boland – will join Baylor as a non-scholarship player.

Signing Day 2020

Midway's Wesley Ndago signed with the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Ndago, a first-team Super Centex lineman, had 20 Division I offers by the time the recruiting process peaked. He was leaning toward potentially going to Cal, but while visiting some family in Colorado decided to make a quick stop by Colorado Springs and see the Air Force Academy.

That turned out to be a serendipitous decision.

“I ended up falling in love with the place,” said Ndago, who wants to be an orthopedic surgeon someday. “It’s right at the base of the mountains, and I used to live in Wyoming, so I love the mountains and everything like that. Once I looked at it, looking at med school, assuming I go in and have good grades and everything, I have an opportunity to get my med school paid for, and that’s a huge relief. So everything like that, it just made sense.”

At 6-3 and 220, Horner will end up playing either defensive end or linebacker at HBU. Of course, when his football journey began he never could have imagined playing on the defensive side of the ball. Horner started out as a quarterback.

“My sophomore year if you had told me that I would have said you’re crazy. But we’re here and I’ve signed, and I’m just really excited for the future,” he said.

Whether they officially made their commitment in December or February, Midway’s football players were glad they got to share Wednesday’s ceremony with one another.

“We’ve spent the time grinding together, so it only makes sense that we spend the time shining together,” Ndago said.

Signing Day 2020

Midway signees Tatum Seith (UTSA) and Joseph Redfield (Temple College) inked their choices Wednesday.

La Vega sending 7 athletes onward

Pirate pride was in full effect at La Vega, which honored a class of seven signees on Wednesday.

That included five players from the football team that made back-to-back state championship game appearances – kicker Ian Chavez is headed to Navarro, quarterback Landry Kinne will play for Tyler, safety Keyon Reese signed with McMurry, defensive lineman Vernon Walker made his commitment official with Hardin Simmons, and wide receiver Malachi Wright will play for Trinity Valley.

Chavez was proud to make not only history in his family, but at La Vega.

“I’m the first kicker at La Vega who ever got signed, and Navarro gave me the first opportunity to kick for them,” Chavez said. “They’ve won some titles, and I’m very excited. I never thought I’d be here on this day.”

Reese said that he chose McMurry, a Division III program in Abilene, in part because of another La Vega connection there.

“It feels like family, it feels like home,” Reese said. “A former La Vega player (Caleb Wright) goes there, and he gave me some pointers on life and college, and I chose McMurry. … I’m the second one to go to college in my family, and I wanted to keep it going.”

Additionally, a pair of La Vega girls athletes signed, as Aiyana Ephraim will play basketball at Concordia while Tierney Sawyers will go to Southwestern Christian for volleyball.

“It’s real exciting, especially since when I first came to high school (volleyball) wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do,” said Sawyers, whose brother is on Southwestern Christian’s track and field team. “Somewhere in the middle of high school I figured out volleyball was what I wanted to do.”

Central Texas signings: February 2020

Centex 25 for 2020

Ranking the top football prospects in Central Texas.

No. Name Pos Ht Wt School Status
1 Quentin Johnson WR 6-4 190 Temple Signed with TCU
2 Jay’veon Sunday RB 5-11 188 Connally Signed with Washington
3 Will Nixon RB 5-11 185 Midway Signed with Nebraska
4 Korie Black DB 6-1 160 Connally Signed with Oklahoma State
5 Trent Pullen OT 6-3 270 Connally Signed with Oklahoma State
6 Demarrquese Hayes LB 6-2 195 La Vega Signed with Kansas State
7 Wesley Ndago OL 6-3 295 Midway Signed with Air Force
8 Logan Smith K 5-7 165 Belton Signed with Texas
9 Jordan Nichols DB 6-0 180 Connally Signed with North Texas
10 Landry Kinne QB 6-1 175 La Vega Signed with Tyler JC
11 Elijah Washington OL 6-6 285 Belton Signed with Blinn JC
12 DaMarco Williams DB 6-3 180 Temple Signed with Tulsa
13 Carson Byrd DT 6-1 265 Midway Signed with Trinity
14 Devin Wilson ATH 5-11 185 Whitney Signed with Cisco
15 Bryce Boland K 6-0 165 Midway Signed with Baylor
16 Jeremiah Stroupe RB 5-11 181 University Unsigned
17 Anthony Jackson RB 5-7 185 Temple Signed with UTPB
18 Corey Sandolph WR 6-2 180 University Signed with UTPB
19 Luke Horner LB 6-2 210 Midway Signed with Houston Baptist
20 Kolby Tanner WR 5-11 165 Whitney Signed with SAGU
21 Keith Guillory Jr. S 5-9 175 Waco High Signed with Howard Payne
22 Braden Endsley DE 6-1 240 Midway Signed with Austin College
23 Ty Moore WR 6-1 185 Lorena Unsigned
24 Jar-Mychael Hudson LB 6-2 180 Fairfield Signed with Navarro
25 KJ Peoples WR 5-7 168 China Spring Signed with Hardin Simmons

Central Texas signings: February 2020

Not including Centex 25 // Note: Some athletes who participated in Wednesday’s ceremonies had signed previously.

Athlete School Signed with
FOOTBALL
WR TJ Jarmon Bruceville-Eddy Austin College
OL Jabril Powell China Spring Bethel College
WR TJ Ferch Clifton Cisco
WR Colby Caniford Clifton Hardin-Simmons
WR Demontray Cooks Connally SW Assembly of God
WR Je’juan Forward Connally SW Assembly of God
ATH Justin Abram Fairfield Midwestern St.
OL Chandler Noble Fairfield A&M-Commerce
CB Dequann Williams Fairfield Southern Nazarene
K Ian Chavez La Vega Navarro
S Keyon Reese La Vega McMurry
DL Vernon Walker La Vega Hardin-Simmons
WR Malachi Wright La Vega Trinity Valley
OL Michael Ramos McGregor Concordia (Neb.)
DB Jaden Proctor Mexia A&M-Commerce
DE Dawson Scott Mexia Southern Arkansas
OT Jacob Kyle Mexia Navarro
DT Arik Medlock Mexia E. New Mexico
LB JB Brown Midway Navarro
LB Brian Burton Midway Army
WR Kaleb Fonteneaux Midway Hardin-Simmons
WR Eli Garvin Midway Mary Hardin-Baylor
OL Noah Plsek Reicher Angelo State
DB Colby Crow Robinson McMurry
K Adrian Guzman Temple Tarleton
DB Roman Jackson Temple Tarleton
OL Dakari White Temple UT-Permian Basin
TE Tyson Magana Temple UT-Permian Basin
OL Markel Carter Temple UT-Permian Basin
OL Jordan Becerra Waco High McMurry
LB Dai’shawn Fisher Waco High Howard Payne
BASEBALL
Athlete School Signed with
Jackon Berry Midway E. Oklahoma St.
Daniel Bojorquez Midway Concordia
Andrew Cates Midway East Texas Baptist
Logan Pace Midway Mary Hardin-Baylor
Joseph Redfield Midway Temple College
Elijah Rodriguez Midway MCC
Jordan Rogers Robinson Wichita State
GIRLS SOCCER
Athlete School Signed with
Samantha Brown Midway Abilene Christian
Vanessa Soriano Midway Texas Wesleyan
GIRLS BASKETBALL
Athlete School Signed with
Aiyana Ephraim La Vega Concordia
Savannah Hoff Lorena Schreiner
Shamaryah Duncan Midway Wichita State
BOYS TENNIS
Athlete School Signed with
Dakota Anderson Crawford Howard Payne
BOYS BASKETBALL
Athlete School Signed with
Julian Spotster Bruceville-Eddy Murray State (Okla.)
Godsgift Ezedinma Midway Incarnate Word
SOFTBALL
Athlete School Signed with
Elisabeth Paul China Spring Mary Hardin-Baylor
Damiana Longo Lorena Vernon
Tatum Seith Midway UTSA
VOLLEYBALL
Athlete School Signed with
Tierney Sawyers La Vega SW Christian
Kynlee Bartosh Lorena Millsaps
Reese Rhodes Midway Texas Tech

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