Looking down the long table at his teammates, Central-Phenix City cornerback Christian Butler said it reminded him of all the group had been through to reach Wednesday morning’s college signing ceremony at the school.
“We were together in the summer, sweating and working hard for this moment right here,” said Butler, who signed with Clark-Atlanta. “It feels good.”
Butler was one of six Central players to sign on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA singing period for football. Linebacker Bronterrious Jakes (6-foot, 215 pounds) and receiver J.D. McKissic (5-10, 185) signed with Arkansas State, defensive lineman Bryan Shorter (6-2, 260) signed with Western Kentucky, offensive lineman Tori Bennett (5-10, 280) signed with Stillman and defensive lineman Meschah Chambers (6-4, 225) signed with West Alabama.
Jakes and McKissic, a 2010 Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City first-team receiver, have been friends since they were 5 and said they were eager to continue their careers together at Arkansas State, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference
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“It’s a blessing,” McKissic said of signing with Jakes. “I’ve been playing with this guy since little league. I’ve always been around him.”
Several of the Wednesday’s signees said their time at Central and under coach Woodrow Lowe, a former Central player and college football hall of famer, prepared them for taking the next step.
“It was a great experience, especially being coached by Coach Lowe, who has been on all three levels of football,” said Shorter, an 2010 All-Bi-City honorable mention. “I think he’s prepared me well.”
Each of the Central players said he felt at home on official visits and looked forward to soaking up the college football experience.
“(Stillman) has a nice campus, I felt at home there and it’s not too far from the house,” said Bennett, a preseason Ledger-Enquirer Dandy Dozen and first-team All-Bi-City selection. “And Tuscaloosa is a nice football atmosphere with Alabama right down the street.”
And most of all, they said they were ready to get to work.
“It feels good to sign with my boys on signing day,” said Chambers, a second-team All-Bi-City pick. “Now I’m just ready to go to school.”
Wednesday marked Lowe’s first signing class as Central’s head coach. He played at Central before having an All-American career at Alabama and a long run in the NFL, and was an assistant at Central when the team won a state championship in 1993. He returned to Central as its head coach just more than a year ago after Ron Nelson retired from coaching.
Having been a part of the Central program for so many years made Wednesday especially meaningful to Lowe.
“It’s kind of surreal a bit,” Lowe said. “A lot of these kids, I’ve known their parents and grandparents for a long time. To me, it’s just special when you can see these kids develop and serve as their guide post.”
Chris White, 706-571-8571; follow Chris online at twitter.com/le_chriswhite and at facebook.com/lechriswhite.