Jacksonville Daily Progress
Outside of Eagle Coliseum Wednesday afternoon it looked like late-season football weather as a steady cold drizzle fell from a gray sky.
Inside the pristine Rusk High School arena it had the feel of football too as a trio of Eagle seniors made their college commitments known on National Signing Day.
Two young men, Darren Franklin and David Overstreet, choose Henderson Sate University, a NCAA Division II school located in Arkadelphia, Ark.
The third, Chaston Bennett, opted for Tyler Junior College.
Franklin, a defensive lineman choose Henderson State over Great American Conference rival Arkansas Tech.
“When I visited Henderson State everything seemed nice and it felt like the place that I need to be,” Franklin said. “As far as the football, I feel good that the coaches here at Rusk have prepared me to play at the next level.”
Overstreet has been penciled in as a linebacker, although he did not play that position as an Eagle.
He committed the week after Franklin had made his decision to become a Reddie, the unique Henderson State mascot.
Overstreet said he expects a smooth transition.
“I got shifted around a lot on defense her (at Rusk), so I think I can play several different positions, whatever they need me to do,” he said.
Overstreet said that he always longed to play college football, but that he never felt that he would ever have the opportunity to do so.
He said that while he is looking forward to taking the next step in life, that he will absolutely miss Rusk.
“It will be hard to leave all the people that I have grown up with,” Overstreet said. “At Rusk we are like one big family and it will be tough to say goodbye.”
The highly-decorated Bennett, a speedy running back, rushed for slightly less than 1,500 yards in 2012, despite missing two games due to injury.
He scored 12 touchdowns and averaged over 11 yards a carry.
“I think TJC is getting an excellent player in Chaston Bennett,” Rusk head football coach, Ted Patton, said. “I think Chaston certainly has the potential to play Division I football one day.”
Bennett, who transferred into the Rusk ISD (from Crockett) as a seventh grader, said he choose TJC because he was not ready to give up on his dream of playing at the Division I level.
“I had originally gave my verbal (non-binding) commitment to Arkansas Tech, a Division II school,” Bennett explained. “But then I thought that if I decided on a Division II school that I would be giving up on my dream and I wasn't ready to do that, because I really feel like that I can play Division I ball.”
Bennett said TJC's track record of preparing athletes to compete at the Division I level was one of the reasons he decided to join the ranks of the Apaches.
All-in-all, a little cold rain not withstanding, Wednesday was a nice day for Rusk ISD athletics.
“I want to congratulate each of these young men on putting in four years of hard work and putting themselves in the position of being able to move onto the next level, both academically and athletically,” Patton said. “Hopefully this will inspire some of our younger boys to put the hard work and invest that time that is necessary to make it in college football.”