Quantity and quality were in plentiful supply Wednesday morning at the JISD Administration Building as six Indian-football talents signed their respective National Letter of Intents with various Texas institutions.
Those signing with four-year schools include, Cory Hamlett (Sam Houston State University, NCAA Division I) and Stacy Whitaker (Tarleton State University, NCAA Division II).
The remaining four Tribesmen penned pacts with area junior colleges.
Kendrick Hatton, Justin Jones and Lavonte Franklin all signed on with Tyler Junior College while Justin Davis made the pledge to nearby Kilgore College. Tyler Junior College and Kilgore College both are members of NJCAA Region XIV.
Wells stated the large number of signees is exciting for the school but cautioned the young men that a lot of hard work still remains for each of them.
“We are proud of these young men and the hard work that they have put forth and we are glad each of them have an opportunity to continue their education at the next level while having the chance to play football.” he said. “(But), as I have told each of them, the hard work is not over; it’s just beginning. A lot of kids sign to play (college ball), but never make it there. These kids will have to continue to work in the weight room, on the track and in the classroom to be fully prepared for the next step.”
Although having different reasons for deciding on their respective schools, each young man said they were eager to get started in the next chapter of their lives.
Hamlett choose Sam Houston State after also being courted by the United States Naval Academy (Navy) and Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls).
“For me Sam Houston is the perfect place because it has all the academics that I am looking for plus I will have the best chance of getting playing time coming in,” Hamlett said. “The others (schools) just didn’t seem like the right fit for me.”
Whitaker, who collected 46 tackles, three interceptions and nine blocked passes last year, found the school of his dreams early in the recruiting process and has stayed true to his verbal commitment to Tarleton State.
“I knew all along I wanted to attend Tarleton and when I visited the campus and got to meet the coaches and some of the players there, I knew that Tarleton was the place for me,” Whitaker said. “It’s a nice campus and the coaches and people are real nice and I feel I will get good coaching and a good education there.”
Jones, the District 14-4A Most Valuable Player (146 tackles, four sacks, five caused fumbles), should be a welcome addition at TJC. He said that he had “dreamed about playing college ball for a long time” and that he was glad to be going to TJC.
Franklin’s view was a little bit more unconventional, but very nostalgic.
“This day has always been in the back of my mind; leaving high school and not playing for the Tribe anymore,” he said. “But I will still be an Indian — I’ll just be an Apache (TJC’s mascot) now.”
Hatton, who decided on TJC over Trinity Valley Community College, gave a far more serious reason for what attending TJC means to him.
“Being able to go to college really means a lot to me because I will be the first of my mother’s children to be able to go to college,” Hatton said.
Davis, who caught 26 passes for 549 yards and averaged just over 21 yards per catch, said he decided on Kilgore College because he believes the university will be the best place for him academically.
“Kilgore is a little smaller than some of the other schools that I looked at and I think I will have more time to concentrate on my studies at Kilgore,” Davis said.