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Waiting for a (chance to) sign

The first Wednesday in February will probably come and go as a normal day for local high schools, a stark contrast to the hoopla that came with the date in 2008.

Last National Signing Day, Marbury’s gymnasium felt like a pep rally complete with cheerleaders shaking pom-poms and band members blowing horns. Maplesville students filled the school’s auditorium to see three Red Devils make their college choices official.

A look at the local football players that could receive scholarship offers

Billingsley

Matt Paulene

Tim Simon

Chilton Co.

Travis Hardee

Patrick Norman

D.J. Parker

Gheryme Reed

Isabella

Norman Craig

Brian Donovan

Del Green

Maplesville

Daniel Davenport

Jacob Little

Marbury

Wesley Warren

– others could also receive offers

It was a banner year for local football with nine players inking letters of intent to play college football for programs like Auburn (Chilton County High’s Derrick Lykes), Ole Miss (Marbury’s Josh Tatum) and Army (Marbury’s Chris Ingram). So far this year, the only reported scholarship offer to a local football player is the one West Alabama made to Chilton County High’s D.J. Parker.

But many local players will still sign, if not on Feb. 4 and if not with as high-profile programs as last year. It’s the nature of the recruiting.

“Your Troy’s and your UAB’s, they wait to see who sign with Alabama and Auburn,” Maplesville coach Brent Hubbert said. “Your Division II teams wait to see who go to Troy and UAB. It’s like that every year.”

As many as 12 local players could receive offers before the process ends on April 1. The list includes Billingsley’s Matt Paulene and Tim Simon; Chilton County High’s Travis Hardee, Patrick Norman, Parker and Gheryme Reed; Isabella’s Norman Craig, Brian Donovan and Del Green; Maplesville’s Daniel Davenport and Jacob Little; and Marbury’s Wesley Warren.

These players, though, aren’t the only ones hoping to continue their football careers. Local coaches have sent out film on players other than the ones mentioned above, but interest from college programs is difficult to determine until a scholarship has been offered.

So, players can only keep their fingers crossed – even Parker, who said he’s hoping for more offers.

“It’s pretty much just wait and see,” Parker said.

Players can also choose to walk-on, which would require them paying their own way to school.

“College coaches love that because they’re getting extra players for free,” Isabella coach Lanny Jones said.

Even so, coaches must be convinced a potential walk-on could still handle the physical demands of practices. And players aren’t likely to commit to walking on until they’re sure no scholarship offers will be made.

Free ride or not, players must prepare themselves for a college career, as Parker has been. Parker said he wants to add some weight to his 5’11”, 198-pound frame but also gain speed in the process. The CCHS linebacker would likely play safety in college.

Parker missed four games at the beginning the ‘08 season with a broken jaw. The frustration of not being able to help his teammates on the field gave Parker an idea of what life would be like without football.

“I always wanted to play [collegiately],” he said. “That happening just pushed me harder.”

Players can’t will themselves into a scholarship at this point, though. The only attribute that can help is patience.