Five area high school gridiron players ink scholarship deals on National Signing Day
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Feb 14, 2014, 20:32
The first Wednesday of February is Christmas Day for collegiate football teams because that is the day they get to open their gifts from the dozens of high school and junior college players that they have been recruiting for quite some time.
National Signing Day was Wednesday, Feb. 5 and the area had five players sign National Letters of Intent to play football next year. Bay High and St. Stanislaus each had two players sign the dotted line while Hancock had one.
The Tigers were led by Dusty Breckley and Patrick Ponder. Breckley signed to play for East Central Community College while Ponder chose Jones County Junior College.
Breckley, an offensive lineman, was a two-time All-Sea Coast Echo selection and a All-Division 8-4A first team selection this year. He helped anchor an offensive line that was in line for a playoff spot in 2013. He was a key cog for the Tigers in 2012 when the Tigers enjoyed their greatest year of football in program history as they advanced to the third round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Ponder, a punter and placekicker, was a two-time All-Sea Coast Echo selection and this year became the first player to be selected first team at two positions. He was also named to the All-Division 8-4A first team, the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 4A All-State first team and became only the third Tiger selected to play in the Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic. Ponder is a dual threat kicker who can punt and placekick.
Bay High head coach Jeff Hopgood commented, “Both Dusty and Patrick are four-year letter winners and have enjoyed lots of success here at Bay High. Patrick is a rare dual threat kicker who can flip field position for a team. Dusty is a punishing run blocker and moves well up front. Both players will represent Bay High and the community with integrity and character at the next level and we wish them the very best.”
The St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws had Tyler Allen and Brennen Bradley sign with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and the University of Louisiana-Monroe, respectively.
Allen, a quarterback, was a consensus player of the year candidate by virtually every media outlet in the state. He led the state in passing (4,263 yards), touchdown passes (49), total yards (5,125 yards) and touchdown responsibility (60). He was the Sea Coast Echo Offensive Player of the Year, the South Mississippi Player of the Year, the Division 8-4A Player of the Year, the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year and was selected to the first team for the Sea Coast Echo and the Division 8-4A team. He was also named to the Clarion Ledger All-State second team. Allen was the eighth ranked quarterback in the country by MaxPreps.
Bradley is the area’s only Division I-A signee. His scholarship came through at the 11th hour from Louisiana-Monroe a school that had been recruiting him since last year. Bradley’s step-up to the Division I-A level is even more impressive because slightly less than 1% of all high school football players throughout the nation get to sign with a Division I school.
Bradley led the state in receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,729). He was named a first team selection by the Sea Coast Echo, Division 8-4A and the Class 4A Mississippi Association of Coaches.
Allen and Bradley were part of a miraculous turnaround at 304 South Beach Blvd this season. In 2012, the Rocks were a dismal 0-9 but went 12-1 and advanced to the Class 4A third round playoff game where they ended up losing to the eventual Class 4A state champion Forrest County AHS Aggies 49-42. It was the first time in Mississippi history that a team went winless one season and recorded an undefeated regular season the next.
Former SSC head coach Gabe Fertitta stated, “Both Tyler and Brennen have worked so hard to get to this point. It has not been an easy road for them. They both had to put in tremendous amounts of work. The school community, teachers, coaches, parents and fans are so proud of this accomplishment. It will be a continuous working process for them to be as good in college as they were in high school. We wish them the very best and look forward to seeing them on the field next season.”
The Hancock Hawks had athlete Alex Feazelle sign with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Feazelle played a variety of positions for the Hawks this year after the team was devastated with injuries. He played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back throughout the season. He was named to the All-Sea Coast Echo first team and helped lead the Hawks to a 3-8 season.
Hancock head coach Rocky Gaudin stated, “Alex is a rate athlete who can play multiple positions and is a stellar student off the field as well. He has received interest from Harvard and Yale and is still in discussion with them. He played hurt through most of the season as did many of our players this year. But, he kept working hard on and off the field. He is one of the best student-athletes I have coached in my career.”
There is still a chance that other area players could receive a call to come play at the next level whether it be on scholarship or via a walk-on invitation. However, National Signing Day has come and gone and the area now has five more reasons to keep up with the collegiate gridiron in 2014.