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SMILE! Area football players sign scholarships

Lights. Camera. Action.

On a cold, dreary Wednesday, National Signing Day produced abeehive of activity in Lincoln and Lawrence County. Five footballplayers from Lawrence County and a like number from Loyd Starsigned college football scholarship papers.

Camera flashes blinked. Television cameras whined. Parents,players and coaches smiled. It was a happy occasion.

At the end of a long hallway, featuring a red and black colorscheme, Lawrence County head football coach Trent Hammond erected atable in front of a large Cougar head painted on the cement blockwall. Three chairs also were furnished.

Tailback/linebacker Wayne Hardy was the first Cougar to sign,completing the verbal commitment he had made to the University ofSouthern Mississippi three months ago. Hardy, The Daily Leader’sPlayer of the Year on the 2001 All-Area Football Team, has a brightfuture with the Golden Eagles. He is the first Lawrence Countyplayer to sign a Division I scholarship straight out of highschool.

“They expect me to be a big part of the team,” said Hardy. Hisfather, Wayne C., was proud of his son. “I hope he keeps his healthand strength in college.”

Another signee was defensive back Jason Snell, signing withDelta State University. Three of his teammates joinedCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s Wolves; fullback Johnathan Eley,defensive back Charles “Buck” Barnes, and offensive lineman RodneyKeys.

Co-Lin linebacker Ken Bournes remembered his Lawrence Countyroots and returned home yesterday to officially sign with the OleMiss Rebels. He also was heavily recruited by Mississippi State andSouth Carolina.

“I give thanks to God,” said Bournes. “Without Him, none of thiswould be possible.”

His father, Marvin Bournes, was present for the signing. He andhis wife, Doretha, are looking forward to the Saturday drives toOxford to watch their son play football.

“This is a big day for Lawrence County,” said Hammond. “We haveour first Division One signee. These kids have a chance to playfootball and continue their education.

“We have some good kids. All of them worked hard to get thosescholarships,” said Hammond. “We hate to lose them.”

Call it a bumper crop and a bountiful harvest.

Christmas was a little late but Co-Lin head football coach DaveCross wasn’t complaining. He and his staff had worked hardrecruiting players and they were pleased with the results.

“We really like this group of kids,” said Cross. Co-Lincollected three promising players from Loyd Star. They aredefensive end Adam Speeg, linebacker Cody Covington and defensivetackle Beau Morrison.

“They’re good looking kids,” said Cross.

Defensive back Demarcus Barnes and tailback/cornerback DerrickJohnson of Loyd Star have signed with Coahoma Community College ofClarksdale. They will play for Coach Freeman Horton. Horton’sTigers play Co-Lin the second week of the 2002 season atWesson.

Loyd Star head coach Anthony Hart watched five of his playerssign scholarships Wednesday. It was a proud day for Loyd Starathletics but Hart said he had mixed emotions. “I just told theirparents that this is a real happy day for them but it’s not ashappy for us. I hate to lose those five guys.”

The Hornets finished 11-2, advancing to the South State AAchampionship game.

“This season they played at or above their ability levels,” saidHart. “Each one of these young men has the talent to help theschools they are going to. They are great young leaders who will bean asset to their communities in the future.”

At Bogue Chitto, offensive tackle Ernie Johnston andtailback/linebacker Domenick Addison have announced theirintentions to sign with Co-Lin. Both were named to the DL’s dreamteam.

At Enterprise, two standouts have committed to the Wolves.Tailback/linebacker Shermaine Vaughn and linebacker Bobby Smith areplotting a future with Co-Lin. Cross said he sees Smith atlinebacker and Vaughn at strong safety.

Vaughn and Johnson were Co-Players of the Year on the DL’sAll-Lincoln County Football Team.

At Wesson, tailback/linebacker Billy Ray Miller won’t have farto travel when he moves into the Co-Lin dormitory next August.Miller is projected as a safety. “That gives us two guys who canrun and hit,” said Cross, referring to Miller and Vaughn.

At Brookhaven Academy, the Cougars are reaping the benefits ofan 11-2 campaign. Offensive lineman Jared Hall, fullback AdamSmith, and wide receiver Paul Coker are going to sign withCo-Lin.

Other players from Copiah County are signing with Co-Lin. Theyare tailback/defensive back Damien Gary of Hazlehurst and punterThomas Garland of Copiah Academy.

Cross said Simpson County should provide some talented players.Around 10 players from Mendenhall and Magee have been offeredscholarships.

In Adams County, Natchez is sending two extra-large players toCo-Lin; Kejuane Bates (6-5, 310) at offensive tackle and DerrickJarvis (6-7, 250) at DE. At Adams County

Christian School, Ty Smith (6-4, 205), at quarterback is readyto take some college snaps.

At Brookhaven, Cornelius Allen, a wide out/defensive back, andBilly Williams, a quarterback/wide receiver, are headed forCo-Lin.

“I hope we can get them all here.” said Cross. He expectssomewhere around 30 new players on the roster next fall.

The quarterback situation shows a lot of promise. Bruce Petty,from New Orleans; a talented signal-caller, already is enrolled atCo-Lin and will be present for spring practice.