ELLISVILLE, MS (WDAM) - Jones College head coach Steve Buckley enjoyed a little early Christmas present on Wednesday.
Fifteen of his Bobcats signed with Division I programs on Wednesday, the first day of the early national signing period for college football.
“The two most exciting days of the year for me as a head coach would be our signing day when we bring our new class in and then watching our own kids realize the fruits of their labor,” he said. “To see them go on and sign with a four-year college is exciting and puts a stamp on the things we told them that could happen for them if they came in and committed to the program – trusting the process, so to speak.
“They did everything athletically and academically to achieve this goal.”
Four players will be heading to play in the Southeastern Conference, including safeties Jonathan Haynes (Ray Brooks) to Ole Miss and Fred Peters (Columbia) to Mississippi State, cornerback Jamar Richardson (Aliceville, Alabama) to Ole Miss and end/linebacker Marquez Bembry (Atlanta, Georgia) to Kentucky.
Tackle DaShawn Crawford (Bay Springs) is headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference to play for Virginia Tech. Three Bobcats will be playing in the American Athletic Conference, including cornerback Gabe Rogers (Jackson Callaway) and end Wardalis Ducksworth (Mize) to Memphis and linebacker Nick Anderson (Vicksburg) to Tulane.
Three Bobcat offensive linemen are going to play for Tennessee-Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference – tackle Cru Birdyshaw (Jasper, Alabama), guard Kordel Watts (Vicksburg) and guard Malcom Miller (Warren Central).
Linebacker Davis Harrison (Lamar School) signed with the University Central Arkansas of the Southland Conference, defensive tackle Edward Haralson (Yazoo County) signed with Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference, end Devonte Toles (Pass Christian) signed with the University of North Alabama of the Atlantic Sun Conference and offensive tackle Bryce Wade (Albuquerque, New Mexico) is going to the University of Massachusetts, which competes as an independent.
Buckley notes that all 15 of these players are going to Division I schools.
“Look back over the last three signing classes with our kids going on to four-year schools and we have had 63 kids to sign and 53 of those have signed Division I,” he said. “It speaks volumes to the kids’ commitment and what they have done for the program and our assistant coaches for doing a great job of recruiting the right kids.”
Each signee graduated from Jones earlier this month and will be enrolled at their respective four-year schools for the spring semester.
“All of these players will be enrolled in January and ready to go for spring training, which is so, so important,” Buckley said. “It’s important for our kids that come in as freshmen that they know they must graduate in December (sophomore year) for your stock to be most valuable.” Buckley expects a couple of more Bobcats to sign in the near future.
“I think we will have at least two more sign in the next few days or weeks,” he said. “Every kid that signs (Wednesday) will have graduated in three semesters. That’s pretty incredible. We have brought in 76 kids over the past three years and 74 of them have graduated in three semesters. The other two have graduated or will graduate in May.”
Buckley said it’s enjoyable to keep up with the players as they go on to play senior college football, noting that 11 former Bobcats are involved in bowl games this postseason.
“Just look at the bowl games right now and we have several kids playing in those games,” he said. “It’s fun to turn on the TV and see our kids becoming successful in the four-year programs. We stay in contact with these kids and talk to them all of the time. It’s just a lot of fun.”
National Signing Day for Jones and other two-year schools will be Feb. 6.