High School Sports

Class of 2017 puts Coast football back on the map

Biloxi defensive back Jiles Bradfield chases down St. Martin quarterback Wayne Overman III on Oct. 14, 2016.
Biloxi defensive back Jiles Bradfield chases down St. Martin quarterback Wayne Overman III on Oct. 14, 2016. ttisbell@sunherald.com

National Signing Day arrives on Wednesday and it will be a momentous day for Coast football.

There will be at least 15 high school seniors from the state's southernmost six counties signing letters of intent to play football at Division I colleges, making it arguably the biggest signing day the Coast has ever seen.

There are also three players from Coast high schools who graduated early and have already enrolled at their new Division I colleges – Pascagoula defensive tackle James Jackson (Mississippi State), Ocean Springs receiver Austin Williams (MSU) and Gulfport defensive back Cleveland Ford (Alcorn State).

If you include the former Coast standouts who will be transferring from junior colleges to Division I schools, it adds up to at least 26 players from the area who will be joining Division I programs in 2017.

There were at least eight junior college players from the Coast who signed letters of intent in December: Jones County Junior College receiver Trevor Terry, a Long Beach product, signed with Southern Miss. Two Pascagoula natives, linebacker Randy Hogan and receiver Matthew Eaton of Pearl River Community College, signed with Louisiana Tech and Iowa State. Two former Gulfport stars, receiver Jonathan Nance and safety Jay Jay Smith, signed with Arkansas and Texas-San Antonio. Former Harrison Central star Tito Windham, who played last season at Northwest Community College, signed with Memphis. Defensive end Kevin Haas, who played at MGCCC and St. Stanislaus, signed with Ohio and MGCCC defensive end Carson Jordan (Hancock) signed with Western Kentucky.

PRCC cornerback Tyler Jack, who played at George County, is expected to sign with Southern Miss on Wednesday.

Prep players set to sign

St. Stanislaus will have the busiest signing day among high schools on the Coast with four players going Division I – quarterback Myles Brennan (LSU), tight end Darius Pittman (Purdue), receiver Corbin Blanchard (Air Force) and Chase Rogers (Louisiana-Lafayette).

The rest of the signees will be spread out across the Coast.

Southern Miss is set to sign D'Iberville defensive back Tyler Barnes and Biloxi receiver Tim Jones.

East Central offensive lineman Conner Estes will follow through with his commitment and sign with Louisiana Tech.

Gulfport defensive back Princeton Fells will sign and join Ford at Alcorn State.

George County receiver Tyrese Fryfogle is set to sign with Indiana after choosing the Hoosiers over Ole Miss.

Jackson State is expected to sign Picayune running back Josh Littles and Harrison Central quarterback Tavis Williams.

St. Martin senior quarterback Wayne Overman will join Blanchard at the Air Force Academy.

Long Beach defensive end/linebacker J'arius Warren will follow through with his commitment and ink with the Naval Academy.

Harrison Central defensive lineman Noah Vance was the latest to commit when he pledged to Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday.

Decisions, decisions

Gautier offensive lineman Paul Gainer is expected to sign Division I as well, but he's keeping three programs in suspense – Southern Miss, Tulane and Louisiana-Lafayette. The former MSU commit visited the ULL campus over the weekend. He plans to wait until National Signing Day to make his choice public.

Harrison Central offensive lineman Jacob Shoemaker has a long list of offers, but he remains committed to MGCCC. He made a visit to Southern Miss this weekend hoping for his biggest offer yet. He and Gainer are the two biggest prospects to watch headed into signing day.

After suffering through somewhat of a dry spell the last few years, the class of 2017 made the Coast again a recruiting hotbed for football.

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