By JOE DODD
In what is becoming an annual tradition at Gilmer High School, seven Buckeyes seniors signed national letters of intent on Wednesday to continue their football careers at four different colleges.
G.J. Kinne, Jamell Kennedy, Jules Johnson, Arsenial Richardson, Dominique Buchanan and Dunterius Goodman all gathered in the Gilmer High School cafeteria surrounded by family and friends, not to mention five television cameras and several newspaper photographers and reporters.
Kinne signed with the University of Texas , Kennedy with Southern Methodist University, Johnson and Richardson with Texas A&M-Commerce, and Buchanan and Goodman signed with Kilgore College .
Kinne led the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record last season, throwing for 3,261 yards and 47 touchdowns before losing to eventual state champion Liberty-Eylau in the first round of the playoffs. For the second straight year, Kinne was named the Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year.
The favorite target of Kinne’s passes, Curtis Brown, also signed a scholarship offer from Texas, but couldn’t join his former teammates in Gilmer, since Brown graduated in December and enrolled in school in January. Brown was one of six Longhorn recruits who signed in a ceremony in Austin.
“I wish Curtis were here,” commented Gilmer Head Coach Jeff Traylor. “I’m sad that he’s not, but I’m very proud that he’s in class this morning.”
The day was an emotional one for Traylor. “I know the sacrifices my kids make. I know how much summer time they give me. Most people only see Friday nights and signing day, I see all the work that goes on behind the scene; so it means a little more to me because I know where they’ve come from.”
In his seven years at Gilmer, Traylor has sent 36 players on to play college football with full scholarships. That success does not come easy. “We send out a lot of video,” said Traylor. “We make a highlight video on every kid. We start tracking their grades when they’re in the 9th grade. Every one of them knows in the 9th grade what is required of them to go to an NCAA school.”
While Traylor and his staff work hard to give the players the opportunity, Traylor credits those 36 former players with making a good impression on their college coaches.
“One of the main reasons Texas A&M-Commerce is recruiting our kids,” Traylor said. “They had two kids show up every day this past summer for workouts; and [former Buckeyes’ quarterback] Derek McKenzie was one of those kids. So A&M-Commerce called me and asked if I had any more kids like Derek McKenzie and I said I sure do.”
While Traylor looks forward to watching his former players compete at the next level; he is more excited about the educational opportunities each of these scholarships represent. “Look at Jamell Kennedy,” said Traylor. “Just his SMU scholarship is worth over $225,000. Then consider what the average salary is without a college degree versus the average salary of a college graduate, and you can start to see the significance of this.”
Traylor said that significance is not lost on his younger players. “They’re down in that field house right now; they’ll see The Gilmer Mirror on Saturday and they’ll see all those kids get scholarships, and they’ll want to get them one.”
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
SIGNING LETTERS OF INTENT Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, at Gilmer High School to attend college on football scholarships are Gilmer players, from left, Arsenial Richardson, Jules Johnson, G.J. Kinne, Jamell Kennedy, Dominique Buchanan and Dunterius Goodman. Behind them are their parents and family: Elisha Robinson; Odell Moore and Sula Johnson; Jocelyne, Kyle and McLane Carter; Athletic Director Jeff Traylor; Tysa Ray and Nicole Buchanan; and Cynthia Goodman. In above photo (courtesy of MackBrown-TexasFootball.com) is Curtis Brown, another signee, who is already a student at UT Austin.