Harrison Central coach Casey Cain has plenty of fond memories of his four latest college-bound players.
Not only for what quarterback Tavis Williams, defensive lineman Noah Vance and offensive linemen Jacob Shoemaker and Calvin Hunter accomplished on the field, but also off of it.
“It’s awesome. The four guys I have signing today haven’t missed a workout since I’ve been here,” Cain said during Wednesday’s signing day ceremony at the school’s cafeteria. “Never had to look around to see where they were. Not only are they good in the field, but they’re good in the classroom.”
Williams signed with Jackson State; Vance with Southeastern Louisiana; and Shoemaker and Hunter are staying close to home at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Williams had a number of schools after him, but ultimately chose Jackson State.
“I like everything about Jackson State. They treat me like a family,” Williams said. “I just have to come in there and repeat.”
JSU lost its starting quarterback from 2016 to transfer, so Williams will have a chance to play right away. He’s one of two QBs the Tigers are signing in the 2017 class.
When Cain took over at HCHS, Williams was one of the first difference makers he identified on his new roster. Williams made Cain look smart, transforming the Red Rebels’ offense.
As a senior, Williams completed 52 percent of his passes for 994 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also rushed for 994 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Previously a tight end/fullback, Vance switched to the defensive line and, as Cain said, “really prospered” as he put on weight. The last two seasons, Vance proved to be a disruptive force along the defensive line.
Throughout the recruiting process several junior colleges showed interest in Vance, but it wasn’t until Southeastern Louisiana popped up in the last month that the defensive lineman landed a four-year offer.
“It was stressful to begin with, having to pick between so many good schools,” Vance said of the recruiting process. “SLU came in and it meant a whole lot to me, to finally be recognized for all the hard work I put in, in countless days, hours, nights. It’s great.”
The Red Rebels were one of the more powerful rushing teams on the Coast in 2016 thanks in large part to Hunter and Shoemaker.
Shoemaker had a number of four-year schools after him, including Southern Miss, which offered him a grayshirt opportunity during a visit to Hattiesburg last weekend. In the end, however, he opted to stick with his previous commitment to MGCCC.
“I feel like I can go to Gulf Coast and start, play a good year and get bigger and better offers and go from there,” he said.
Hunter expects to play guard or tackle for the Bulldogs.
“Not everyone gets a chance like this. I just want to thank God,” said Hunter, in a suit and tie for Wednesday’s festivities. “If you put in the work, you get opportunities like this.”
Picayune’s Josh Littles
Picayune running back Joshua Littles will be joining Williams at Jackson State. The speedy running back signed with JSU early Wednesday.
Littles originally committed to Jackson State in December. He expects to do a number of things for the Tigers.
“I am a multi-dimensional back,” Littles said at the time. “I can catch and I can run. You can put me on special teams and I can play a little defense, too.”
Littles ended up sixth in Mississippi in rushing yards (2,399) and 15th in rushing touchdowns (25). He also returned kicks for the Tide and played defensive back.