By JOSH FRYE
Note: An article that appeared in last week’s Atmore News initially included capsuled information on each of the nine area football scholarship signees but had to be cut for space.
Nine area senior football players, including five from Escambia County High School, signed college athletic scholarships on February 5 during National College Signing Day.
For ECHS the signing marked a milestone for the most players ever signed in one day. Ra’quan Crenshaw, Eric Ferguson, Jacob Hammac, Jamarius Lewis and Trevon Lambert were the Blue Devils who will continue their football careers at the next level.
Northview High added three players — Cameron Findley, Gerrick Davis, and Jacob Hawkins — to the area list, and J.U. Blacksher’s J.T. Tucker rounded out the list.
A look at the signees:
Hammac made the transition to ECHS, coming from Florala High with his mentor and coach, Scott Mason. Hammac recently traveled to Faulkner University in Montgomery, where he signed a baseball and football scholarship.
Hammac will not have to wait until a graduation date in May to make the transition, as he graduated early due to having enough academic credits.
As Mason talked about Hammac, his eyes began to tear up, showing the connection between the two.
“I am extremely proud of him,” the ECHS coach said. “I am going to miss him. In the three years that I have coached him, he has become like my own son. Our families have become great friends. He was like having another coach on the field. He can make something happen out of nothing. He can make big plays when you need them. Words can’t express how proud I am of him.”
Crenshaw and classmate Eric Ferguson will each play at Community Christian College in Lancaster, N.C. Crenshaw, an offensive tackle, helped lead the Blue Devils offense over the past season.
“I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid,” he said. “It is a blessing. All I have ever wanted was to work towards the goal of playing football at the next level. I am nervous about making the transition, but I am excited at the opportunities that are before me.”
Ferguson, who served as a wide receiver and backup kicker for the Blue Devils this past season, will join Crenshaw at Community Christian College.
It is still unclear what position he will play for the Vipers, but according to Mason, Ferguson’s drive and heart will carry him far.
“I have been working for this moment for a long time,” Ferguson said. “I just needed one chance to prove myself and this team gave me a chance. I am blessed to have this opportunity. It’s going to be a hard transition, but I’m lucky to have my friend and teammate (Crenshaw) with me. Together, we will make it.”
Blue Devils defensive end Jamarius Lewis will pack his bags for Pearl River Community College, near Hattiesburg, Miss., following graduation.
“Lewis has been a strong guy for us,” Mason said. “He is an athlete and is destined for great things at Pearl River. It is a great school, and they have a top-quality program. I’m excited to see what he will do for that school. They are getting an excellent player, student and person.”
Despite qualifying for Division 1 late, Lewis looks at the opportunity as a blessing because only 10 spots are available at PRCC for out-of-state players.
“I am really excited, “he said. “It is going to be a learning experience for me. The transition will be fine. It’s country life, so I think I will transition really well. I am just so happy to have the opportunity and want to make the best of it.”
Offensive tackle Trevon Lambert will be making the transition to Livingston, where he will be attending University of West Alabama on a football scholarship.
“I am excited to finally go to the next level,” Lambert said. “I am excited to have a new place to call home. It’s a dream come true for me. I have always looked forward to this day and I am ready to get to work.”
Lambert stressed that the hardest transition will be adjusting to a higher-paced football atmosphere.
Despite being away from home for the first time, he said he is looking forward to being in a new place and, more than that, seeing what restaurants he can find along the way.
J.T. Tucker- JUB
J.U. Blacksher standout J.T. Tucker, who was one of the key components of JUB’s air attack this past season, signed with Faulkner University.
Tucker will be the second confirmed player from the area to commit to the Eagles program and will join former ECHS quarterback Jacob Hammac there.
“Seeing guys like Tucker have this success makes you proud as a principal,” JUB Principal Donald Baggett said. “It’s exciting to see these kids that you invest so much time with enjoy success. It speaks to the school as a whole. It brings into reality that you can be from a small town and still succeed and accomplish your dreams.”
According to Baggett, Tucker is respected and loved by the entire school due to his personality and the example he sets.
“His parents have raised a great kid,” Baggett said. “Tucker wanted all of his teammates to attend his signing and be a part of that. That speaks volumes to the type of person he is.”
Tucker said he was proud and blessed to be considered by Faulkner University.
“Playing Division 1 football has always been a dream,” Tucker said. “I am blessed to have the opportunity and to accomplish a goal that I have had since I was a young kid.”
Cameron Findley- NHS
Findley offered a strong presence this past season on Northview’s relentless ground attack. He will have the chance to display his skills and strength at the next level as he packs his bags for Northwestern College in Iowa, following graduation.
“This is a great opportunity for Findley,” NHS head coach Derek Marshman said. “He has the chance to earn a college degree and take his game to the next level in college football.”
Gerrick Davis- NHS
Davis, an offensive tackle, will be joining Findley at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. Davis and Findley were the mainstays of an offensive line that paved the way for the Chiefs running game.
The Davis and Findley duo will have the unique opportunity to continue their chemistry with the Red Raiders.
“We are very proud of both of these guys,” Marshman added. “They offer a ton of talent and have represented Northview well.
Hawkins, a defensive end, signed with Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
Benedictine College is a Benedictine Catholic, liberal arts institution located along the bluffs of the Missouri River.
Hawkins will have the opportunity to spotlight his talents as he gears up to play for the Ravens.
Marshman said he is happy that each of his former players have earned a chance for a better life through higher education.
“As a coach you know these guys will eventually leave, you expect it,” Marshman said. “You are happy to see guys sign and have the opportunity to continue in their football careers, but the main goal is to see them succeed. It doesn’t matter if they go to trade school, a major college, or join the military.
“We want our kids to succeed and it’s awesome that these young men get the opportunity to be able to showcase their talents at the next level.”