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Signing the dotted line: Local stars make college choices

Signing the dotted line: Local stars make college choices

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 9:04 pm
By: Mike Hutchens Messenger Sports Writer

 

By MIKE HUTCHENS Sports Editor The Ohio Valley Confer-ence apparently has a dir-ect pipeline into Obion County’s prep football ranks. Four players from the county’s three high schools were set to sign scholarship papers today to continue their respective gridiron careers with OVC schools on the FCS level. Record-setting Union City fullback Josh Nicks and Obion Central multi-purpose standout Patrick Haskins — who shared The Messenger Prep Player of the Year honors after earning all-state accolades — are headed to Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardaeu, and Austin Peay in Clarksville, respectively. (Additional signing day coverage will appear in Thursday’s edition of The Messenger.) Haskins’ Rebel teammate, lineman Aaron Cary, picked Tennessee Tech in Cookville as his college destination, while South Fulton trenchman Sam Curtis made it a quartet of local players to stay in the region and will be the closest to home when he chose to sign with the University of Tennessee at Martin. The first day of the national signing period today marked an unprecedented happening with five Obion Countians in all inking college scholarships of varying worth. Class 1A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year finalist Ronnie Fair, who helped the Tornadoes win the Class 1A state championship, became the fifth of those college-bound local players when he signed with Bethel University in McKenzie, an NAIA school. And there might be more coming. OC linebacker Blake Boyd — the Rebels’ leading tackler the past two seasons — and defensive lineman Ethan Davis have drawn interest from several Division II and NAIA schools and could sign scholarships down the road, according to head coach Shawn Jackson. The group of local signees is a byproduct of a 2009 prep season that saw all three Obion County entries post winning records and make the playoffs for just the second time in the 49 years there have been three high schools in the county. And while each of the quartet who committed today to join the Ohio Valley Conference had other scholarship options, the league is considered a good fit for most rural West Tennessee players. “You don’t have to go a million miles to play football at a high level. They play a good brand of ball in the OVC,” OC’s Jackson said. “There are several good schools in the league and the coaches recruit the region well. It’s close to home for a lot of players in terms of distance. “I think that plays a factor and helps them with some kids and their families who are more comfortable with a shorter distance between home and college.” Nicks, who ran for more than 1,600 yards and scored 210 points while helping the Tornadoes win the Class A state title, will join a Red Hawk program that suffered through a 2-9 season last fall. The District 14A Offensive MVP, he capped his stellar prep career by setting a state championship game record with 47 carries for 201 yards when UC stunned heavily-favored South Pittsburg in the BlueCross Bowl. The 6-1, 220-pound bruiser will not be the first UC player to make the Cape Girardeau campus his home. Former Tornado standout lineman Jonathan Robinson, The Messenger Player of the Year in 1993 and now the director of college scouting for the New England Patriots, played and was an assistant coach at SEMO. Haskins hopes to help the Governors improve on their 4-7 finish of 2009 after leading Obion Central to just the 10th winning season in the 49-year history of the program and a playoff berth for only the eighth time ever. He accumulated more than 2,700 all-purpose yards while splitting time at quarterback, running back and receiver, and scored 146 points in directing OC to a remarkable 6-5 turnaround after it had began the year having lost 20 straight games over a two-year period. For his efforts, Haskins was named the District 13AA Offensive Most Valuable Player in a league that featured Class 3A state runnerup Milan and Class 4A quarterfinalist Crockett County. The 6-4, 255-pound Cary was stalwart at offensive tackle for the Rebels, helping them roll up 350 yards of offense per game, on average. He will join a Tech program that was OVC runnerup last season with a 6-5 mark after regularly dominating opposing linemen in the running game his senior season, where OC rushed for nearly 2,500 yards for the season. At 6-4, 320 pounds, Curtis anchored both the offensive and defensive line for the Red Devils. The three-year-starter played tackle on offense, helping SF rush for more than 210 yards per game and 5.8 yards per attempt. Defensively, he spent most of his time at end and was in on 51 total tackles, including four for lost yards, and five sacks despite opponents constantly running away from him. The future Skyhawk was a two-time all district/all region selection, and was named as the Offensive Lineman of the Year in District 14A. He was also chosen to participate and played extensively in the Tennessee East-West All Star game. UTM finished 5-6 in 2009. Fair was a disruptive force defensively for the state champion Twisters last fall, earning All-State as well as Defensive MVP honors in District 14A after making 74 total tackles — 26 for lost yardage. At Bethel, he will join former Tornadoes John Graham and Brandon Easley. Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 2.3.10

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