Seven Noxubee County High School football players have signed scholarship offers with colleges. This group includes Justin Davis (East Central Community College), Miles Smith (East Central C.C.), Anterrious Gray (Northwest Mississippi C.C.), Dequavion Prince (Itawamba C.C.), Terry Joiner (Northeast Mississippi C.C.), Armoni Clark (Northeast Mississippi C.C.), and Rashad Eades (East Mississippi C.C.). Photo by: Scott Walters/Dispatch Staff
February 8, 2018 10:20:22 AM
MACON -- Despite coaching several state championship teams, Noxubee County High School football coach Tyrone Shorter believes his favorite day each year takes place in February.
"National Signing Day is my favorite day," Shorter said. "When you see a group of young men have an opportunity at a free education, that's special. It means the world to me. As coaches, you put in countless hours helping them realize their dream. As players, it's a chance to see all the hard work pay off.
"To see the parents, grandparents, smiling -- seeing that sense of accomplishment is very rewarding and exciting."
An overflow crowd packed the Noxubee County High library Wednesday to see seven of the school's seniors sign National Letters of Intent to play in the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) next season.
Linebacker Terry Joiner signed with Northeast Mississippi Community College. He and quarterback Armoni Clark will continue their football careers together in Booneville.
"Coach Shorter really takes this day seriously," Joiner said. "It is great that it means as much to the coaches as it does the players. You grow up wanting to play football on the college level. When that day arrives, it is emotional. It's another change in life and you are excited about getting to start a new chapter."
The National Signing Day festivities have become a party. Members of the administration are on hand. Several persons speak. A pledge of allegiance and prayer start the activities. A meal brings it to a close.
"Other schools are just in and out," Shorter said. "We are not going do to that because for these young men, it is their biggest days of their life. I sat there (at the signing table) once before and several of the coaches were here as well. This is the pathway to a free education.
"One day, the air will be out of the football. After that, you have to rely on your education to provide for your family. Being able to go to school for free is worth celebrating."
Shorter shared his typical speech with the players. He encouraged his seniors to "use football" but not let "football use them." He also touted that the Class 4A Tigers have one of the five highest groups of players presently playing college ball, regardless of classification around the state.
"There is a lot of tradition in this program," said Noxubee County wide receiver Rashad Eades, who signed with reigning National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) champion East Mississippi C.C. "You strive to be state champions. That is the expectation of this program. You also strive to be in this position (to play college ball)."
Shorter said playing junior college ball can be a springboard for players like Eades, who battled injuries during his junior season. As a senior, he caught 59 passes for 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"Rashad will have several Division I offers a couple of years from now," Shorter said. "The good news is EMCC throws the ball a lot, so he will get plenty of opportunities."
Other signees were: Justin Davis and Miles Smith (East Central C.C.), Anterrious Gray (Northwest Mississippi C.C.), and Dequavion Prince (Itawamba C.C).
Clark threw for 2,863 yards and 33 touchdowns to lead the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State champions this past season.
"(Playing in the MACJC) will be a challenge," Clark said. "I think all of these guys are up for the challenge. We had the best coaching in high school. We will take a lot of great memories from playing here and get ready for what's next."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Scott Walters on Twitter @dispatchscott
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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