Like with so many that inked their national letters of intent on signing day Wednesday, for three of Friendswood’s football signees, the recruiting process was quite the rollercoaster for a variety of reasons.
Offensive lineman Max Yarbrough de-committed from SMU after head coach Chad Morris and his staff departed for Arkansas. When Louisiana-Lafayette came calling, Yarbrough felt he meshed better with the Ragin’ Cajuns’ new head coach Billy Napier and his staff than the new staff at SMU under new head coach Sonny Dykes.
“Coach (Rob) Sale and coach Napier, they really showed me a family atmosphere, and they’re really good coaches,” Yarbrough said.
Tight end Ben Redding had a less than stellar junior season in 2016, but his 6-foot-5 frame and athleticism showed enough potential to get offers from Texas State and UNLV. But, after a breakout senior season, Redding felt like he could garner more interest, reopened his recruitment and landed offers from Boise State, Western Kentucky and SMU (where he signed Wednesday).
“This season, I threw a season together that I’m pretty proud of, and it got recognized,” Redding said. “I was committed to a couple different places at first, but they didn’t feel like that great of a fit, so I held off, and I’m really glad I did because I’m really happy with SMU.”
For linebacker Jake Yurachek, the recruitment process came down to virtually the 11th hour. Yurachek had offers from the service academies and some smaller schools, but he said none of those options seemed like the right one for him. Then just this past Saturday, he met his match, accepting a preferred walk-on offer from Colorado.
“I went to Colorado last weekend, and I just fell in love with it,” Yurachek said. “It was hard to find something I didn’t like — between the coaches, the facilities, the city and the campus. I just knew it was the place for me. I committed before I even left on Saturday.”
It was a banner signing day for the Friendswood football program. Redding, Yarbrough and Yurachek were joined at the signing table by defensive back Reid Nickerson (Yale), defensive lineman Wyatt Hall (Davidson College) and receiver Nick Swaney (Texas A&M-Commerce).
“We were blessed for four years to have such a great class,” Friendswood head coach Robert Koopmann said.
Other athletes signing NLIs Wednesday for Friendswood were Priya Ponia (Centenary women’s basketball), Kyle Harner (Florida Southern men’s soccer), Thomas McHenry (Florida Tech men’s swimming), Luke McAdams (Elmhurst College men’s lacrosse) and Joel Borman (Mars Hill University men’s lacrosse).
DICKINSON SIGNING DAY, PART 2
After three Dickinson football players took advantage of the new early signing day Dec. 20, 2017, five more signed scholarship offers Wednesday at their high school auditorium.
“I think leadership and obviously a tremendous skill set,” said Dickinson head coach John Snelson on what the players are bringing to their respective colleges. “I couldn’t be prouder of these young men.”
Cameron Collins, the quarterback for the Gators, signed with Southwestern University. Southwestern is an NCAA Division III university in Georgetown. Collins threw 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in his senior season, and was named to the academic all-state team.
Defensive tackle Keelan Oatis is headed to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Oatis was selected as an all-district defensive lineman in 24-6A.
Linebacker Malik Williams is headed to West Texas A&M in Canyon. Williams is a two-sport athlete, who also competes on the basketball team. Williams was an all-district linebacker in District 24-6A.
Bryon Broussard was an all-county defensive back for the Gators his senior season, and is headed to Abilene Christian University, where he will join former Gator Anietie Etuk. Broussard became emotional when he made his speech before his peers and family.
“I’m just happy to get this blessing,” said Broussard. “It took me a little while to see that’s my home and I went up there and they treated me like family.”
Offensive lineman Evaristo “Kiko” Nunez is headed to the Air Force Academy. Nunez was named to the academic all-state team earlier in the year. He was also first-team all-district. Nunez only wanted to play baseball going into high school, but said his mom wasn’t having it and made him play football, and he fell in love with it
“It was a great opportunity to for me and my family,” said Nunez on choosing Air Force.
The Gators are expected to have five or six more players sign later on this year.
High school athletes across the country made their college destinations official on signing day and it was no different in Galveston for Dimitri Villarreal, Tucker Rawlins and Haile Hernandez from Ball High School.
Villarreal signed to play football at NCAA Division II Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark.
“It’s a big honor,” Villarreal said. “I’ve had this dream since I was little. The fact that I’m living up to it is crazy.”
The atmosphere and the coaches at HSU played a part in Villarreal’s decision.
“They really wanted me and if they wanted me then I felt like that was the best place to go,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal plans on studying business administration.
Even though it’s not Division I football, Rawlins said he is still content about signing with the NCAA Division III University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
“It’s a big deal for me,” Rawlins said. “I’ve always wanted to go to the next level even if it’s not Division I. It’s still college football.”
Rawlins says he plans on majoring in business.
Hernandez, a standout on the Ball High Lady Tors soccer team, won’t have to travel very far from home when she plays at St. Thomas University in Houston next year.
“It’s extremely exciting because it’s been a dream of mine to sign and go play at a higher level,” Hernandez said.
The school’s proximity to home made her choice easier.
“I liked St. Thomas because they are super close to home and have a great academic and athletic program,” Hernandez said.
The St. Thomas Celts (who compete in the NAIA) are coming off a season that saw them win the Red River Athletic Conference championship.
Hernandez plans to study biology.
Being a sports fanatic, O’Connell’s Caleb Lamb will get a chance to continue with his passion while furthering his education after signing on Wednesday afternoon to play football at Austin College in Sherman.
“I’ve been playing football for a long time and it’s been a blessing that I can do such a thing because I love football. I love sports and to be able to keep playing after high school is truly amazing for me,” Lamb said.
He’ll also join a few familiar faces on campus this fall which helped him with the decision process.
“Last year, we had a couple of guys go there: Saylor Anderson and Sederick Jones,” Lamb said. “My brother goes there and plays baseball. They came down and interviewed me and I went to tour their school and loved it.”
Lamb plans on studying business with a focus in pre-law.
• Hitchcock had a Division I signee, as defensive lineman John Scott III made his commitment to Texas Tech official. Also inking an NLI for the Bulldogs was linebacker Randy Williams Jr. (Southern Nazarene).
• Texas City and La Marque held a joint signing day ceremony with a total of 10 football players from the school district signing their scholarship offers.
Signing from Texas City were linebacker Gabriel Bovio (Texas Lutheran), defensive back Tarrence Brooks (Wayland Baptist), defensive back Zion Davis (Texas A&M-Kingsville), defensive back Zach Henry (Texas A&M-Kingsville), receiver Nicolas Milburn (Texas A&M-Kingsville), offensive lineman Zane Ortiz (Friends University) and tight end Gavin Raines (East Texas Baptist).
La Marque football players signing were quarterback Myles Launius (Texas Lutheran), offensive lineman James Lofton (Mississippi Valley State) and offensive lineman Hershel Wafer (Cisco Community College).