Signing Day blog: Golden Gate's 'Fantastic Four' sign; Lely's Faustin waiting

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5:17 p.m.

Two Lely football standouts have signed commitment letters to play in college.

Dado Michel will play wide receiver at Jacksonville, while Sanchez Faugue, a defensive back, is going to Robert Morris. Both are Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) colleges.

The speedy Michel gathered in 34 passes for 577 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had two interceptions as a safety.

"Jacksonville is looking to advance its program, hiring Kerwin Bell as the head coach," Michel said. "He was a starting quarterback for Florida and a I'm pretty excited about going there."

Faugue was a tower of strength on defense, making 223 tackles in his two varsity years, including 23 for losses.He will go from linebacker to strong safety.

"I think they plan on moving me to strong safety and I may be red-shirted for one year to learn the new position," he said. "I'm pretty nervous, but I will be joining Rolf Bathold who plays defensive cornerback."

Bathold played quarterback and defensive back for Lely, graduating in 2007.

Lely's top running back, Fortin Faustin had expected to sign, also going to Jacksonville, but an official offer had not been made by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

"Jacksonville is looking at three running backs, with Fortin being one of them," coach Steve Pricer said. "Unfortunately they can only take two. We are hoping to hear from them sometime tonight."

1:46 p.m.

With a trio of college signees at his back, Barron Collier football coach Mark Ivey praised the Cougars' senior class early Wednesday afternoon. Without even one of them, he said in the school's media center, Barron wouldn't have the district championship banner on display in the room.

Three Cougars agreed to play football at the next level Wednesday, and more could be soon to come. T.J. Avery, Jake Marsh and Tyrone Marshall all signed letters of intent with schools near and far.

Avery, a three-year starter for Barron, will play defensive tackle at Southwest Minnesota State. The Division II school also wants Avery, the 6-foot, 300-pounder, to wrestle.

"It's a really good school with an up-and-coming program," Avery said. "It's exciting. (Mustangs coaches) are already talking about where they're going to play me."

Avery will be joined in Minnesota by Marshall, a running back who will attend Rochester (Minn.) Community College. The 5-foot-8 Marshall said he hopes to play two years for the Yellow Jackets, earn a degree, and move on to play at a bigger school.

The third Cougar player to sign Wednesday was Jake Marsh. Marsh will stay in-state and play at Webber International in Babson Park, about 50 miles south of Orlando. Marsh said Warriors coaches want him to play defensive end for the sixth-year program.

Marsh started for three years for Barron Collier, two years on the defensive line.

***

1:24 p.m.

After needing only three years to set the school scoring record, Kelly Tripp sat out her senior season with the St. John Neumann girls soccer team. The time off didn't stop her from finding a free ride to college.

Tripp agreed Wednesday to join Newberry College in South Carolina. With her parents Sandy and Daniel, as well as club coach Ryan Smiley, by her side, Tripp sat in Neumann's media center and signed a letter of intent to play for the Division II Indians.

Tripp won't be out of shape when she gets to Newberry. Despite not playing for Neumann for personal reasons, Tripp spent this fall practicing with the Celtics' boys' team. She'll also play for the Naples Sharks 18-and-under club team this spring.

"(Coach Juan Pablo Favero) told me he likes to bring in freshmen that can make an impact immediately," Tripp said. "He's bringing in a big recruiting class, so they're expecting a lot from us."

In three years at Neumann, Tripp scored 113 goals, a school record. She was named to the Class 2A All-State team twice and led the Celtics to their first two district titles.

Tripp originally had intentions of playing for South Carolina-Upstate. While at a Trojans' summer camp before her junior year, she met Newberry's Favero. After a recruiting trip this fall, Tripp was sold.

"I like that it's small because, obviously, I go to a small school (now)," Tripp said. "I like the girls I met in my visit."

-- Adam Fisher/Correspondent

***

11:58 a.m.

FORT MYERS -- Three months after making history by winning its first district title, the South Fort Myers football program was back writing another chapter Wednesday morning.

With about a dozen teammates peering through the window of the school's Career Center, wide receivers Steven Crawford and Brad Rucker signed their letters of intent on National Signing Day in front of family members and the media. Both players are headed to Division I Football Championship Subdivision teams. Crawford will play for Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.; Rucker will suit up for Jacksonville University.

Grant Redhead -- South's only head coach in its three year existence -- stood by like a proud papa while Crawford and Rucker signed.

"These are the first two Division I scholarship athletes in school history, so we're very pleased," said Redhead, who guided the Wolfpack to the Class 3A-District 13 title last season.

After he transferred from Riverdale following his sophomore year, the 6-foot-3, 190 pound Crawford caught 47 passes for 748 yards in two years at South. He finished with seven career touchdown catches as a Wolfpack while helping the team compile a 15-6 record over the past two years. Crawford was a favorite target of his younger brother Dallas, the team's freshman standout quarterback.

Crawford said he enjoyed his visit to Liberty and is anxious to start his college career.

"I'm very excited. I can't wait. I dream about football. This is where I want to be," he said. "I'm so grateful to be doing this because everyone doesn't get this chance.

Crawford could see time on both sides of the ball.

"I think they'll play him wherever they have the biggest need right away," said Redhead. "They loved him as a wide receiver. That's where they initially signed him as, but the head coach said, 'well, you could play corner for us, too."

Rucker, a 6-foot-1, 180 pound three-year starter, led the Wolfpack in touchdown catches (5) and reception yards (413) in 2007. He had six multiple-catch games.

Rucker, whose older brother Micah is a former star receiver for Estero High and Eastern Illinois, made his decision to become a Dolphin on Tuesday.

"He decided to sign late yesterday afternoon," said Redhead. "It's a good choice for him. They really like him up there."

"I like the campus, the atmosphere, the city. It's a whole college town," added Rucker. "They're an up-and-coming program and I'm looking forward to being part of that."

-- Kevin Johnson/Staff

***

11:05 a.m.

Four Golden Gate Titans made official what had been talked about for months on Wednesday, signing letters of intent to play for NCAA Division I schools.

Defensive end Anthony Mains was the biggest force on the Titans defense, and hopes to bring that presence to the Wisconsin Badgers. Mains led the team in sacks for the past two seasons, racking up 19 in that time span. Mains had originally committed to play for the University of South Florida, but changed his mind in December after making a visit to Madison.

"It's just a relief; it's been such a long process since last summer, and I'm just glad that now it's over," he said. "There were a lot of sleepless nights thinking about if I didn't perform what would happen."

Wide receiver J.D. Woods signed on to play with Big East powerhouse West Virginia. Woods had made some visits to other schools after he got word that former Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez jumped ship to Michigan, but upon hearing that the coaches he had been in contact with were being retained, he chose to stick with his decision.

Peter St. Fort, who had committed to play for Indiana before his senior season even got under way, will join a Hoosiers secondary rich in young talent, but the prospect of putting Indiana on the map in the vaunted Big Ten Conference was too good of an opportunity to pass up on.

"Playing football again is going to be really exciting," he said. "I was getting on (Donnell Wilson) because he was taking his time getting up to sign, I was like 'Let's go!'"

Wilson also signed his letter of intent to play with Florida International University. He'll compete right away for a spot on the Golden Panthers' defensive line, and look to be the force in the middle that he was as a senior with the Titans, as he totaled 60 tackles this season.

The four Division I recruits represent the most any area team has seen sign at one time this season.

-- Nick Krueger/Correspondent

***

10:36 a.m.

John Weber's final recruiting class at Immokalee was capped by running back Carl Elie signing with Louisiana-Monroe as part of a five-player recruiting class Wednesday morning. Elie was being recruited by schools from Bowl Championship Series conferences, but they moved on because Elie didn't make his qualifying ACT score until December.

"It just kind of broke that way. I think he made a good choice and has a chance to play pretty quickly,'' Weber said.

Elie picked Louisiana-Monroe over Western Illinois, which is in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Wisconsin, Minnesota and Florida Atlantic were among those recruiting him previously.

He joins Immokalee grad Brandon McCray, who signed with the Warhawks last year, and McCray's brother Donnell, a Palmetto Ridge High grad, at Louisiana-Monroe. Both redshirted as freshmen this season.

Linemen Victor Ledezma and Jason Lee both signed with Walsh University (Ohio) and Markease Williams and lineman Reggie Townsend committed to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.

Weber, who announced his retirement last month, estimated he had over 50 players sign with junior colleges or colleges during his tenure at Immokalee.

***

10:22 a.m.

Five members of Naples High's inspirational senior class capped their magical 2007-08 on National Signing Day, inking their official letters of intent at a presentation in the principal's conference room on Wednesday morning.

All-State safety Jack Swanson, who'd verbally committed to Iowa last spring, officially became a Hawkeye, while linebacker Layne McCombs (Jacksonville University) and three more members of defensive coordinator Sam Dollar's secondary also signed to play in college.

Safety Jay Bonaquist and corner Jamison May will remain teammates at Cumberland University, an NAIA school in New Lebanon, Tenn., while All-State cornerback Antwain Harvey will join former Golden Eagles Gerald Stevenson and Jacques Bazile at Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Charleston Southern in South Carolina.

"We've probably been overanalyzed, but you've got a group of seniors who gave tremendous effort on the track and in the weight room and in the classroom for four years," head coach Bill Kramer said. "They worked hard at having authentic relationships with each other, with their parents and with our coaching staff. That's a rare thing, and all that added up to being the best defense in Florida this year."

Goalkeeper Alexandra McLay, who recorded 11 shutouts and allowed just 16 goals for Frank Frostino's 12-5-1 girls soccer team as a senior this fall, also signed to attend North Alabama.

"This is like getting married," she said. "At the moment I'm pretty nervous, but you know that once you've done it, everything's gonna be OK. I liked the coach. The campus was great, and I know it's the best place for me."

-- Dana Oppedisano/Staff

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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