By MARY L. KIRBY
Six Buckeyes signed National Letters of Intent to play for universities Wednesday, Feb. 6, during National Signing Day. Two of the players, Justin Johnson and David Snow, were already in attendance at their respective schools, the University of Oklahoma in Norman and the University of Texas at Austin.
Gathering with their family members in Buckeye Field House were Lamar Harris, Daniel Jenkins, Ross Stevens and Houston Tuminello. All but Stevens were signing with NCAA Division I Football Subdivision Schools, meaning that they may be going to post-season bowl games like their former teammates Tay Bowser, Curtis Brown and Manuel Johnson did this past winter.
With the six, the number of players who have signed scholarships since Jeff Traylor became the Athletic Director is 45. Many of the early players signed with community colleges as Ross Stevens did Wednesday. Then, with the state championship run in 2004 and the signing of Manuel Johnson and some of his teammates, more and more players have had a chance to go to a D-I school, as the larger 4-year colleges are commonly called.
During the four years this year’s seniors have attended Gilmer, the Buckeyes never lost a home game or a district game. While their coach has amassed an 85-15 record, these players have gone 50-4 during that run.
“I am extremely excited for these young men and for their families,” said Traylor. “It lifts a huge financial burden for their parents.”
“When Buckeyes go off and are doing well, they help the younger kids in the program,” Traylor continued. “When they come to see our seniors, they see the other players in the program.”
“The success of these young men also gives hope to the younger kids, giving them a reason to think that they may have a chance,” Traylor said.
Lamar Harris appeared to enjoy the attention he received when the recruiting service Rivals.com announced he was changing his commitment from Texas A&M University to the Oklahoma University. He was coy as people would ask about his choice in the day leading up to the signing.
The shift in coaches at A&M had an influence as did the presence of Manuel Johnson and Justin Johnson at Norman.
Dondi and Katrina Harris stood beside their son at the signing.
“They were interested in me first, and I like the program,” Daniel Jenkins responded when asked about his choice of the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Dressed in a black shirt and suit and wearing a gold tie, Jenkins loyally brought a Missouri University ball cap to go with the pie which his mother brought, decorated with a tiger.
The entire clan of Jenkinses — Jacob, Jessa, Kim, Noah, Bobby, Sara and Nathan — stood behind Daniel as he signed.
With Chase Daniel, formerly the Southlake Carroll quarterback, leading the Tigers, Jenkins will have the advantage of having learned many of the same “run and shoot” plays in his three years starting as a Buckeye.
Houston Tuminello was another who had made a verbal commitment before the fall began. Tuminello will attend Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La.
“They are committed to the passing game, and I am excited to be part of their turning the program around,” Tuminello said after signing.
Standing with Houston were his parents, Gloria and Mike Tuminello, his sister, Natalie Tuminello Biggs, and her son, Colin.
The only Buckeye not to have made a verbal commitment in advance of Wednesday’s ceremony was Ross Stevens. It was his work as a linebacker during the run to the state finals against Liberty Hill which helped the Gilmer senior.
Michael and Jackie Stevens joined their son.
Snow participated in a ceremony with other early enrollees in Austin, explaining why he chose to be a Texas Longhorn as follows:
“I chose Texas because it’s like a big family down here, and the people here and the coaches are very honest and have good values. I’m here to get my business degree and this is one of the best business schools in the country. When you come here, you’re going to play on a team that has the chance to win the National Championship every year. It’s a great program. Coach Brown is a good Christian guy. He wants to make sure that you’re taken care of on and off the field. He’s always looking out for you. Coach (Mac) McWhorter is just like my high school coach; he gets up into you when you mess up, but he praises you when you do a good job. He’ll always be honest with you.”
In addition, Kendal Abron signed to attend Louisiana College in Pineville, La., the next two years. Abron finished his career at Kilgore College this year.
“What I really want to see is these young men to continue their education,” Traylor said in summation. “We tell them all the time that your playing football will end sometime but your being a man with responsibilities will not.”
“The more degrees you have tends to mean the more you will make in your life,” he concluded.
Mirror Photo / Mary Laschinger Kirby
ON NATIONAL LETTER of Intent signing day Wednesday, media representatives surround the family and their Gilmer Buckeye student-athletes as they sign committments to the schools of their choice. From left are Michael and Jackie Stevens with Ross Stevens, Tyler Junior College; Dondi and Katrina Harris, Lamar Harris to the University of Oklahoma; Jacob, Jessa, Kim, Noah, Bobby, Sara and Nathan Jenkins watching Daniel Jenkins sign with the University of Missouri; Gilmer Athletic Director Jeff Traylor; and Natalie Tuminello Biggs, Colin Biggs, Gloria and Mike Tuminello watching Houston Tuminello as he signs with Louisiana Tech. Justin Johnson (OU) and David Snow (UT) were early graduates who are already on campus at their Big 12 schools in Norman, Okla., and Austin respectively.
From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:
4 Gilmer Buckeyes Accept Scholarships
From the Longview News-Journal:
Top college programs continue calling on Gilmer
David Snow, Justin Johnson already enrolled:
Signing Day at UT includes Snow
Johnson Ready to Run for OU