February 5, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
Each story on National Signing Day is unique.
And even though Jonathan Guerry, Josh Ferguson, and Tamicdrius Davis took different paths to realize their dreams Wednesday, each started out with at least a little doubt that they would be able to continue their football careers in college.
Those doubts disappeared as they matured, grew stronger, and helped the New Hope High School football team have more and more success.
On Wednesday, each player took the final step, as Guerry signed a letter of intent to play football at Southern Miss, while Ferguson and Davis signed to play football at East Mississippi Community College.
"All three of them are good kids," New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. "They come from good families, they are well disciplined and well mannered. The schools that are signing these kids are getting good, quality character kids. I am proud of the fact that they''re going to get some education out of this. That is probably the most important thing out of this."
Each signee played a key role in helping the Trojans advance to the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs.
Guerry, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder, anchored the Trojans'' offensive line. His signing wasn''t a surprise, considering he already had given a verbal commitment to attend Southern Miss.
Guerry admitted Wednesday that he never doubted his decision, but he is glad he decided to be a Golden Eagle.
"I am just glad God has given me a little bit of ability to give me the chance to play at Southern Miss," Guerry said. "It has always been a dream of mine to play college football. I am glad that it is here."
Guerry has been told he has the speed for guard and the feet for tackle, so he isn''t sure where he will play. He said improving his strength and his conditioning are his two areas of focus as he prepares to play college football.
Guerry remembered back to the summer after his ninth grade, when he was shorter and lighter -- 6-2 and weighed 230-250 pounds -- and didn''t know if he was going to grow anymore.
Ferguson was the highlight producer, lining up at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, in the slot, and just about anywhere else imaginable to help spring big plays. His explosive speed gave him the ability to change a game with one play.
"Josh is a unique kid," Bradley said. "He is blessed with a lot of God-given ability, and for a person to be as humble as he is, he is a joy to be around. He doesn''t have the big head, takes all of the things that come his way in stride, and it even embarrasses him a little but.
"He is definitely a difference-maker."
Ferguson, a 5-9, 175-pound do-everything performer,
"This a big dream," Ferguson said. "I never thought playing in seventh and in eighth grade that I would be in this position. It is a big shock that this day has come."
Ferguson might not have been as mature as a middle schooler, but he said he harbored dreams of playing in the NFL but thought he wasn''t good enough.
As he got older, he saw he compared to his peers, and, in some cases, was better. At EMCC, Ferguson said he projects as a slot receiver and as a safety.
"It really came when coach Bradley and the new coaches came in," Ferguson said. "They started talking to me and working with me (in my sophomore year) and I got more confidence, and my teammates developed a bond."
Guerry and Davis, at right tackle, helped pave the way for Ferguson and sophomore running back Terrence Dentry.
Bradley said Guerry and Davis improved dramatically in their footwork the past two seasons. He said it is a tribute to the players and to coach Bob Reeves, their position coach.
Davis'' progression might be even more impressive considering he played defensive tackle in 2007. He said this past season was the first time he played on the offensive line (right tackle).
"I didn''t think I was really good in football. I thought I was a borderline player," Davis said. "This year, I did really good and a lot of coaches recognized me."
Davis said things started to click after his junior season when he had moved from offense to defense. He said the coaches had told him he was making the move and he was willing to do whatever he needed to do to help the team.
The end result for Davis and his teammates proved to be the realization of a dream.
"All three of those kids are big reasons we have been able to have success the past couple of seasons," Bradley said. "They have been leaders on and off the field. You set your goals for something, you work hard to attain those goals, and those goals can be realized. I am glad these three young guys are getting an opportunity to do that."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.