High School Sports

Gulfport has 4 sign scholarships, including 2 with Jackson State

PATRICK MAGEE/SUN HERALD 
 Gulfport coach Eddie Pierces watches from the back as (from left to right) Alton Conerly, Adarius Craft, Stephon Cooper and Deon Cole sign their National Letters of Intent Wednesday at Gulfport High School.
PATRICK MAGEE/SUN HERALD Gulfport coach Eddie Pierces watches from the back as (from left to right) Alton Conerly, Adarius Craft, Stephon Cooper and Deon Cole sign their National Letters of Intent Wednesday at Gulfport High School.

A pair of future Jackson State Tigers were among four Gulfport football stars who signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.

Tight end Adarius Craft and running back/defensive back Deon Cole both signed to play football for new Jackson State football coach Tony Hughes.

Receiver Alton Conerly signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College and offensive lineman Stephon Cooper inked with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

"I think (Craft and Cole) will both do well," Gulfport coach Eddie Pierce said. "I'm proud of all four of them."

Cole, who also signed with MGCCC, had been recruited by Jackson State for a while, but Craft was glad to receive a late offer from the Tigers.

"I was talking to them during the season, but they offered me two weeks ago," Craft said "I went for a visit last weekend and really enjoyed it. I thought it was the best fit for me and my family."

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Craft said he expects to fill a variety of roles at Jackson State, working in the slot, at receiver and in the backfield.

"As a kid, anybody who plays sports wants to play Division I," Craft said. "I'm glad to be fulfilling a dream everybody wishes they could."

Cole was a standout at running back for Gulfport, rushing 215 times for 1,668 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015.

At Jackson State, Cole expects to play safety.

"I went on a visit one week and I liked the atmosphere, campus and coaches," Cole said.

Conerly was a star defensive back and receiver at Gulfport, but expects to play solely receiver at Copiah-Lincoln.

He caught 27 passes for 651 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.

"I just feel like I can work at receiver do the things I need to do," Conerly said. "I talked with family and decided that was best decision for me."

Cooper landed a scholarship at MGCCC after adding about 30 pounds in the offseason to bulk up to 6-foot-1, 275 pounds.

Cooper spent a lot of time in the weightroom and eating his mom's cooking.

"It was just a bunch of protein and a bunch of stuff. I was eating a lot," Cooper said. "I had to get bigger for next season so I can move a 300-pound defensive lineman off the line."

Cooper described Wednesday's Signing Day event as "a great feeling."

"It's what I've been waiting on all four years," Cooper said. "I see everybody else signing. That was motivating and made me want to do the same. Now, I'm here. There's no better feeling."

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