Bill Kramer called it "one of the most gratifying days a coach can have."
With family and friends in attendance, Naples paid tribute to eight football players taking their careers to the next level at a ceremony for National Signing Day.
Among the eight signees from the regional finalist Golden Eagles were four Division I-A recruits — Junior Petit Jean and Gelo Orange (Wake Forest), Jevon Pugh (Iowa) and Tim Moscato (Florida Atlantic).
2007 SIGNING DAY
- VIDEO: Barron Collier Signing Day
- VIDEO: Naples Signing Day
- VIDEO: Immokalee Signing Day
- VIDEO: See highlights of local athletes in action
- PHOTOS: Signing Day at Immokalee
- PHOTO: Photos of local prep stars in action
- POLL: Who will have the most success at the next level?
- RELATED: Find out which athletes signed with which schools
Naples' other signees were Gerald Stevenson and Jacques Bazile (Charleston Southern), Pedro Molina (Evangel University) and Conor Garvie (Trinity College). While each player signed his letter of intent with his family sitting close by, a video montage of his biggest high school plays was displayed for the crowd.
"This is a special day for these seniors," Kramer said. "It's a close-knit group. These kids have done everything we've asked as coaches. They've set examples for the kids that follow them that if you make a commitment and work hard, good things will happen."
Petit-Jean and Orange are taking their defensive talents to the ACC, where they will play for National Coach of the Year Jim Grobe at Wake Forest. The close friends are happy to be making the journey together.
"It means a lot to be going there with Gelo," Petit-Jean said. "We're going to push each other, just like we did here at Naples. It's a prestigious program, and we're excited to be a part of it."
Orange has certainly come a long way since moving to Naples from Haiti four years ago. He didn't know much about football, playing mostly on the junior varsity squad. But the athletic defensive end worked with coaches Sam Dollar and Pedro Fominaya in the offseason and became a terror to opposing quarterbacks, leading the team with 11 sacks.
"You know, when I started playing football, I never thought I could play for Naples High, let alone a Division I program like Wake Forest," Orange said. "I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches and teammates for helping me out and making this possible. My family could never have afforded to send me to a school like Wake Forest. This is such a great chance for me."
Kramer said Orange's story was one of the best he's seen at Naples.
"He did everything that was asked of him," Kramer said. "Coach Dollar and Fominaya worked with him and he was a very coachable kid. He kept working at it and now he's going to play for the National Coach of the Year at Wake Forest."
Kramer will certainly miss his workhorse back in Pugh, and not just because of all he brought to the table as an offensive force.
"I've grown very close to Jevon over the years, and I'm just going to miss seeing him at school," Kramer said. "He truly made our offense go. We've had a great tradition of running backs here at Naples with guys like Duane Coleman, Dan Dunford and Jamelle Eugene. Jevon continued the tradition, and we're going to be looking for someone next year to keep that tradition going."
Pugh is anxious to get his college career started, where he knows he'll have to prove himself again.
"You start all over when you go to college, but I'm ready for it," Pugh said. "I'm definitely going to miss playing for Naples, though. Coach (Kramer) really did a great job with us over the years. It's a great feeling sharing this day with my teammates."