Wednesday is the NCAA’s National Signing Day, which is the first day football players are able to sign a National Letter of Intent to their future colleges. Athletes from around the country will participate in the event, and the Anniston area is no exception.
Oxford High running back Racean Thomas and Clay Central defensive end DeAndre Wills headline the day as they are set to sign with major conference schools. Thomas is set to sign with Auburn of the Southeastern Conference, and Wills has announced he is going with Nebraska of the Big 12.
“There’s excitement building,” said Clay Central coach Kris Herron, Wills’ coach. “We’re going to have an assembly with his teammates, classmates and his family is coming in. It’s exciting. It’s an exciting time for him and us.”
Thomas will be joined by three teammates at a 9 a.m. ceremony in the Oxford gym, as defensive back Tae Davis (Chattanooga), athlete Desmon Owens (Tuskegee) and defensive lineman Kenyn Richey (Tuskegee) also are signing with college programs.
“It’s going to be awesome. It’s a great opportunity these kids have in front of them, and it’s great to have the school to watch them do this,” Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. “Having people sign these scholarships doesn’t happen every year at every school. I’ve been at places where for consecutive years nobody signs anything. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to do it.”
For Clay Central, this year marks the second time since the school opened in August 2012 the Vols will have an FBS signee, as Jamari Staples signed with UAB last year.
“I think it goes back to what you always tell the players: If you work hard and do good things, good things are going to happen to good people,” Herron said. “Both of those guys are two good young men. They’ve done things we’ve asked them to do, taken care of business on the academic side, and it speaks volumes for them as individuals. We’re excited they got a chance to further their education.”
Jacksonville and Munford also will have football players sign with college programs, including three sets of athletes who will be college teammates.
Jacksonville running back Dominique Thomas and Saks athlete Tre Smith are signing with Central Arkansas, an FCS school. Oxford teammates Owens and Richey are headed to Tuskegee, which is in Division II. Chattanooga, an FCS school, is expected to land Oxford’s Davis and Munford defensive back Tavon Lawson, who confirmed Tuesday evening he plans to sign with the Mocs.
“I think it’ll make the transition a lot easier,” Herring said. “They’ve got someone they can trust and lean on when they get home sick or any little thing that can happen. They’ll have someone to make the trip home with. It’s something that’s positive and beneficial in several ways.”
Football isn’t the only sport to have local signees Wednesday. Faith Christian goalkeeper Sydney Nordan will sign with the UAB women’s soccer program, and Jacksonville outside hitter Katie Neisler will sign with Samford’s volleyball team.
Local signing day participants
Faith Christian: Sydney Nordan (UAB soccer), 12:30 p.m.
Jacksonville: Dominique Thomas (Central Arkansas), Miles Clark (Florida Tech), Katie Neisler (Samford volleyball), 8 a.m.
Oxford: Racean Thomas (Auburn), Tae Davis (Chattanooga) Desmon Owens (Tuskegee), Kenyn Richey (Tuskegee), 9 a.m.
Saks: Tre Smith (Central Arkansas), Friday, 1:30 p.m.
Clay Central: DeAndre Wills (Nebraska), 10 a.m.
Munford: Monteo Garrett (Jones County (Miss.) Junior College), Tavon Lawson (Chatanooga), Earl Moss (Miles), 10:30 a.m.