There was a lot of relief and a lot of excitement at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday.
The five Mansfield high schools produced 113 athletes that were honored at a National Signing Day ceremony hosted by MISD Athletic Director Philip O’Neal and his staff.
“A lot of it is the talent that our kids have,” said O’Neal, who admitted that he feels like a proud papa himself at events like this. “Another big component is our coaches. The coaches spend an exorbitant amount of time promoting our kids to the colleges, so I think that plays a huge role.”
Mansfield High led the way with 30 athletes, followed by Lake Ridge (24), Legacy (22), Timberview (21), and Summit (16).
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“It’s a huge stress reliever and I’m so excited to take it to the next level to see what competition is out there,” said Jillian Johnson, who will be running track at TCU next season. “I did get a lot of offers from out of the area, but TCU was the one that stood out the most considering that it was a private school, a Christian school, and Division I so it was the obvious choice.”
Legacy football coach Chris Melson had eight of his players sign. Four are headed for the SEC.
“Just to know that I’m playing for four more years with these two guys is a blessing,” said Legacy safety Jalen Catalon of classmates Taurean Carter and Enoch Jackson, who will all play football at the University of Arkansas. “Fayetteville just feels like home and Coach [Chad] Morris has something good going on there.”
Legacy cornerback Jeffery Carter is already enrolled and in school at Alabama.
Other notable power conference football signees are Layton Ernst and Miles Williams of Mansfield, who are headed to Oklahoma State and California, respectively. William Jones of Summit will play at Kansas State.
Trazarien White of Timberview is from a family with a military background and he’s not ruling out flying fighter jets while playing basketball at the Air Force Academy, at least not yet.
“I’m going to try it and if I like it I guess I’ll be flying,” said a smiling White, who loved his visit to the Colorado Springs area. “The recruiting process is tough, but now the stress is off and it’s just playing basketball.”
Kit Martin, coach of Timberview’s Class 5A, No. 1 ranked girls basketball squad, had five of her players sign led by Destiny Jackson, who is headed to Rice. Kennedy Wilson and N’Denasija Collins both chose Houston Baptist. Mikayla Hutchinson is going to Stephen F. Austin and Arianna Clark is deciding between Kansas Wesleyan or Bethel.
“The recruiting process can be a bit of a hassle, but seeing all the coaches putting their time and effort into it is a blessing and takes some weight off your shoulders,” said Nate Rombach of Legacy, who is headed to Texas Tech to play baseball. “I’m super excited. It’s been my lifelong dream to be able to play Division I baseball and now that I’m committed and signed, I’m ready.”
“It was a very stressful process and it’s a relief to know it’s over and I picked the right school,” said Jasmine Moore of Lake Ridge, who will run track at Georgia. “I’m so excited because Georgia is a dream school of mine and just to have the opportunity to compete and continue my education is a really big honor.”
Added O’Neal: “It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work both academically and athletically. Our kids are doing really well in the classroom and really well on the field and we’re proud of that.”