X Factor - Sign Here: Area Athletes Choose Their Futures

Published on Wednesday, 5 February 2014 22:43 - Written by SHANE STARK sstark@tylerpaper.com

Seniors football players from throughout East Texas took part in National Signing Day on Wednesday. Packed libraries and auditoriums were common scenes as students, faculty and family converged to celebrate the occasion.

Lake Tyler rivals Whitehouse and Chapel Hill headlined Smith County with 13 signings and four NCAA Division I FBS signings (college football’s highest level). Whitehouse quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Chapel Hill cornerback Joseph Clark signed with the same school — Texas Tech — and anticipate future matchups in practice.

Said Clark: “Me and Pat have a little rivalry, with him coming from Whitehouse, so that’s going to be interesting.

“Maybe I’ll get to sack him one day in practice.”

Louisiana-Monroe continued to make a strong move into East Texas and grabbed such players as Chapel Hill’s Wesley Thompson and Shaq Warren, and Palestine’s Ben Luckett and Brian Thlang.

Other FBS signees included Chapel Hill’s Keith Minor (Cincinnati); Palestine’s Jarrell Owens (Oklahoma State); Mount Pleasant’s K.D. Cannon (Baylor); Longview’s Dorian Leonard (Texas) and Travin Howard (TCU); Lufkin’s D.J. Williams (Kansas) and Jamal Jeffery (Texas A&M); and Nacogdoches’ Jacob Bragg (Kansas) and Greg Roberts (Baylor), among others.

Longview’s Zaycoven Henderson, the Tyler Morning Telegraph’s All-East Texas Defensive Player of the Year, is already enrolled at Texas A&M.

John Tyler led the Tyler Independent School District with seven football signings, including Terry Ausborne and Travaughn Moore, who are headed to Abilene Christian. Robert E. Lee accounted for four.

According to many outlets, Southeastern Conference power Alabama finished with the nation’s top signing class for the third year in a row.

In ESPN’s rankings, LSU finished second, defending national champion Florida State placed third and Texas A&M came in fourth — garnering signatures from players such as Gilmer linebacker Josh Walker and Tyler Junior College receiver Josh Reynolds, among many others.

Texas head coach Charlie Strong’s first signing class finished 16th in the ESPN rankings, but finished second among Lone Star State schools. Baylor came in 22nd, Texas Tech placed 35th and TCU was 43rd as of Wednesday night.

National Signing Day is held the first Wednesday of each February and is the first day that football recruits can sign letters of intent.