Hardin-Simmons University and Trinity Valley College College are the recipients of the future football services of two of Rusk High School's football standouts.
In what Rusk athletic director and head football coach Jowell Hancock described as more of a “celebration” than a signing day, Byron “B.J.” Johnson and Jermaine Lewis did ink official agreements to become members of the Cowboys and Cardinal football teams, respectively.
“We are always proud when any of our Eagles have a chance to move on,” Hancock said. “I have coached these young men for three seasons and I wish I had them for another. That's just the type of players and individuals B.J. And Jermaine are.
“They represent the turn around here at Rusk and we are very proud of them. And how fitting it was for B.J. to have delivered the closing prayer at our celebration today.”
Johnson, was the District 7-4A-II Defensive Player of the Year and was a unanimous pick (first team) at running back.
Hancock said, at least at this point, that Hardin-Simmons seems interested in Johnson continuing in the offensive backfield.
“I tell all of kids to be flexible and to be willing to play where ever they need you to play at the college level,” Hancock said. “You never know what will happen, or what the need will be.”
The Cowboys finished 9-2 overall, 8-1 in the American Southwest Conference, last season.
Hardin-Simmons is coached by Jesse Burleson.
Lewis earned the Most Valuable Player award for District 7-4A-II last fall.
He is also a multi-year state qualifier in track and field (throws), as well as being a strong performer in powerlifting, seems to be headed to the defensive line at Trinity Valley.
“We had to play Jermaine on the defensive and offensive lines here at Rusk,” Hancock said. “Jermaine doesn't know what it is to be able to rest during a game.
“The folks at Trinity Valley are expecting him to be even stronger by just playing on one side of the ball.”
The Cardinals, who went 4-5 last year, 3-4 in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference, have a brand new head coach in Sherard Poteete.