Six Choctaw seniors prepare for next level
Choctaw High School hosted a college signing ceremony Wednesday as, an unprecedented, six Yellowjacket football players inked to play at the next level.
Kicker Liam Jones signed with the University of Kansas, Daegan Manley inked with Emporia State, Tyrel Bell signed with Northeastern, Chase Harper signed with Southern Nazarene, while Giavoni McClain and Talon Unruh committed to remain teammates next season as the duo joins the Langston University roster.
Kansas football welcomed 27 players, including one of the nation’s top high school kickers, on signing day. The senior standout who put almost all of his kickoffs in or through the end zone this year is expected to make an immediate and long-running impact for the Jayhawks.
“I’m really excited about having Liam here. He’s been committed to us for a long time. One of the things that’s really gratifying for me is I started my college career at Rice with his head coach. Todd Dilbeck is a dear friend of mine, and it’s always gratifying when you can add a player from one of your buddy’s places. He’s a head coach here at Choctaw. This guy is a very, very pivotal guy in this class for us. Losing the kicker that we lost, being able to fill those shoes with the guy that we think can do it right away,” said KU coach David Beaty. “We always say kickers, deep snappers should be the best value for a scholarship, because they should be four-year starters. If not, you’ve got the wrong guy. So I guess time will tell, but this guy, as you can tell, the leg speed this guy generates is ridiculous. He can hit it now. And I love his accuracy. He’s won a number of competitions. Liam Jones is a stud, and I’m excited about him being here. I love the way that he gets his leg extended. There are not a lot of kickers doing that anymore. I really like this kid. Really happy to have Coach Dilbeck’s guy here.”
Choctaw’s Bell was one of 27 to join the Northeastern State RiverHawks football program last Wednesday.
As a four-year starter for Choctaw, Bell has been a key playmaker on both sides of the ball.
Bell, standing at 5’9″ and 230 pounds, is expected to step up as a key running back for the RiverHawks.
Bell was a 2016 Vype Top-100 selection after running for 1,800 total yards during his sophomore and junior years, three-time team captain, two-time All-Area selection, All-State honoree and a three-time Academic All-State selection.
He will be joined on the freshman section of the NSU roster by Jones WR Callen Houston.
Houston is a two-time Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State honoree, and as a team captain helped guide the Longhorns to an undefeated State Championship.
“I thought that our coaches hit it out of the park with the kids we brought in,” said NSU coach Rob Robinson. “We hit a lot of our needs and overall this is one of our best defensive classes we have. Our coaches have been talking to these kids for almost a year. They spend a year of their lives, texting, talking, going to high schools…you spend a year of your life doing that, and once they get on that dotted line you can get a good night sleep because the last two months have just been hectic. We have 20 kids whose home is three hours away from here and that big to me. When you get 90-percent of your kids from a three-hour radius it just gets families involved, and those kids play hard play harder in front of them.”
Manley, standing at 6 ‘5″ and 350 pounds, will add size and power to the Emporia State offensive line.
The 2016 District Lineman of the Year and All-Big 10 Conference first team player will join a Hornet roster that’s returning 12 starters and looking to continue a
The Emporia State football program was ranked in the top ten of the AFCA Division II Coaches Poll for the second straight year as they finished as No. 10 in the final poll of the 2016 season. It is the fourth time in the last five years the Hornets have been ranked in the final AFCA Top 25.
Emporia State (11-2) gave up both 2016 losses to national champion Northwest Missouri around a school record 11-game in season winning streak.
Over the last two years the Hornets are 22-5 with four of the losses going to the undefeated national champions.
“Daegan is a big man with an even bigger upside. His best football is definitely in front of him. He is a kid that we had been recruiting through summer, came to our summer camp, came on a game day visit, and committed before he was on an official visit,” said ESU coach Garin Higgins. “He has wanted to be a Hornet since we worked together at camp. He is a very strong kid who can develop into a very good OL for Emporia State. I am very excited about what he will bring to our group up front.”
The Crimson Storm Football team is still young after being established in 2000, and the program is hoping to build into a winning power.
Harper, standing at 5’11″and 165 pounds, will add some talented depth to the Crimson Storm defensive roster.
Choctaw’s senior standout will stay close to home, while he steps up to play cornerback and safety for SNU.
Langston finished the 2016 season at 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Central States Football League.
Next season kicks off with the LU Classic as the Lions host NCAA DII Lincoln University at W.E. Anderson Stadium on Sept. 2; Langston won last season’s matchup 23-13 at Lincoln University in Jefferson, Mo.
The Lions home slate includes four conference opponents in three different venues; Langston squares off against Bacone College on Sept. 23 at Douglass High School in Oklahoma City. and the Oct. 14 showdown against Texas College will serve as the Black Wall Street Classic on the campus of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa.