Student Athletes Commit To Colleges: Make Viper History

Taylor Watson, Editor In Chief

February 1, six student athletes took part in National Signing Day. The student athletes signed with colleges across the country for football, cross-country and baseball.

“Every group of seniors is special to me, but this group is very special,” Athletic Director Coach Sanders said. “They established a tradition of excellence that will last forever.  I am indebted to them. They believed in us and the coaching philosophy and achieved greatness.”

After being looked at by several in-state colleges, Greta Smith and J.R. Hardy chose to sign with Baylor University for cross-country.

“I chose Baylor because I really liked the feeling of the school and team when I went up for my visit,” Hardy said. “I also really enjoyed the religious side of the school and how everyone seemed to be very nice, approachable and had tons of school spirit.”

Notre Dame, The University of Illinois, Purdue and Gonzaga looked at Brandon Keys, but next fall, he will run cross-country at The University of Memphis.

“During the summer Coach Clark (the cross country coach at Memphis) called me once a week for a couple months and then we set up an official visit. When I was there I got to hang out with the guys on the team. It was a great experience and gave me a great feel for their team environment,” Keys said. “When I looked around the campus, everything was either brand new or recently built and the buildings looked awesome. Then when they offered me a scholarship to run there, it was icing on the cake.”

Zach Brown was a target for more than eight small universities for his baseball talents, but eventually chose to sign with Grayson Country College.

“I chose Grayson because it is close to the old town I used to live in. They have a great baseball program that was ranked 7th in the nation last year for junior colleges,” Brown said. “They have one of the best incoming recruiting class coming this year and they have some great ties with D1 universities like Oklahoma, OSU, and others along the east coast.”

Both Dakota Prukop and Brandon Brown will continue to play football after high school. After being looked at by many schools, Prukop signed with Montana State University. Brown received an academic scholarship to Baylor University, but still signed to play football with the Bears next fall.

“There is a huge mental aspect to each sport that was represented today- I’m not sure people really understand how challenging it is to excel at this level,” Coach Sanders said. “My job as a coach is to take people where they want to go, even if, at the time, they aren’t sure they know how to get there.  So it was all the coaches that pushed them to that [college] level. “

Coach Sanders, as well as the rest of the faculty and staff, is very proud of these athletes and look forward to seeing their future in athletics.

“Every student that signed today is an exceptional athlete and top of their class at their sport.  In addition to that, they all are high character people with extreme work ethic,” Sanders said. “There have been days for these athletes that they have wanted to quit, complain or just sleep in.  But they kept coming.  And that really is the difference between them and the average athlete, their mental game was so strong.  You combine those traits, and you have a college athlete.”