National Signing Day
EDGARD — As a dad, Brandon Walters is glad that’s over.
As the head football coach of the West St. John High School Rams, he is too.
On Wednesday, as the nation’s best high school football players signed their names on dotted lines and faxed their commitments to college coaches across the country, Walters was beaming with pride as two of his football players signed.
One was his son.
Strong safety Wonzell Dumas signed to play for Louisiana College, and defensive back Jamal Walters, the youngest of Walters’ three sons, signed with Nicholls State University.
“I’m glad this part of it is over, to tell the truth,” Coach Walters said. “It’s been crazy.”
Jamal said he spent a restless, mostly sleepless Tuesday night in anticipation of Wednesday’s ceremony, which was held in the school’s gym in front of the whole student body.
“It felt good to do it in front of the school, people that know me and know that I worked so hard for it,” said Jamal, who chose Nicholls over Tulane, Louisiana-Lafayette and Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. “It’s good to know that this school really wanted to give me a shot, give me an opportunity to play at the next level.”
During a noon ceremony at East St. John High School, six players took turns signing papers and posing for pictures with their parents, siblings and grandparents before a crowd of seniors and freshmen.
“This could be y’all up here in a few years,” Wildcats coach Aldon Foster told the youngsters. “These guys all played ball in the community.”
Wide receiver C.J. Turner was decked out in a bright yellow shirt with a flashy green bow tie as he signed with Southeastern Louisiana University. He said he has spent a few sleepless nights thinking about the moment.
“I just kept thinking, ‘It’s really happening. I’m going to school for free,’” Turner said. “I’m going to get to play a lot my freshman year. My dad just told me, ‘Work hard all the time and you’ll be able to make things happen for you.’”
Turner also was thrilled to have his parents, Clifford and Raynell Turner, with him.
“I do everything for them,” he said.
Clifford Turner said he was proud of his son but, like Walters, he’s glad it’s over.
“It’s been a long journey,” Clifford Turner said. “It’s a hard decision, a lot of headaches, a lot of discussion. He’s been putting in work since he was 8 years old.”
Clifford said he was glad Southeastern won out over other schools.
“Going to Southeastern is like coming full circle,” Clifford said. “I can remember him playing his first junior all-star game there in about 2010. Who would have ever thought, seven years later, we’d be going to college there? We’re real proud of him.”
Other East St. John players who signed were quarterback Marquise Darensbourg (Southeastern Louisiana University), defensive lineman Kailon Davis (Independence Community College), defensive lineman Miles Myer (Pearl River Community College), defensive lineman Demond Stewart (Southwest Community College), wide receiver C.J. Turner (Southeastern) and defensive lineman Chandler Vicknair.
Class 3A state champion Lutcher quarterback Jontre Kirlin signed with LSU, as did St. James High School quarterback Lowell Narcisse.
Other St. James signees were Tyren Jasmin (University of Mary Hardin Baylor), Andre Dennis, Jahires James, Tyreik Stewart, Jonathan Tregre and Jaylon Braxton (Southern Prep Academy of Baton Rouge), Dontaze Costly (Nicholls State) and Curtland Johnson (Southern University).
Also from Lutcher, Al’Dontre Davis signed with Texas Christian University and Tariq Belvin signed with Independence Community College.
Destrehan signees were Kohen Granier (Nicholls State), Elijah Hayes (Southeastern), Dakota Torbert (Louisiana-Monroe) and Michael Young (Notre Dame).
Hahnville signees were Tre’Vas Chambers (Northeast), Rashad Domino (Pearl River) and Drew Jones (Southeastern).
A handful of other athletes elected to wait to sign, including West St. John’s Austin Alexander, who has some track offers on his table.
Riverside Academy’s Hardell Mack signed Thursday with Arkansas Tech.
St. Charles Catholic coach Frank Monica had no athletes signed Wednesday, adding a few of his players are working out walk-on deals at area colleges.