Panthers sign scholarships

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

With the stage lights turned on in Brookhaven High School’sauditorium, the scene was ready for National Signing Day. Nine BHSseniors signed football scholarships Wednesday morning.

Ole Brook head football coach Tucker Peavey addressed theaudience as the players sat at three tables on the stage,surrounded by parents, relatives and BHS coaches. “This day belongsto you.”

Peavey introduced each player by name. Five of them, widereceiver Bud Chatman, center Grant McDonnieal, offensive guardTyler Gatlin, offensive tackle Zach Ray and running back RonnieMcNulty, signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

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Quarterback Jimmy Johns signed with Alabama and defensive tackleJessie Bowman joined Mississippi State, promising a future SECmeeting between the two friends. Tight end Michael Thrasher signedwith Grambling and linebacker Darius Perkins signed withNorthwestern (La.) State.

Recognized as one of, if not the largest group of Ole Brookseniors to ever sign football scholarships on the same day, Peaveypointed out that a few more of his 19 seniors could wind up signingpacts.

“It’s a financial means to getting an education,” Peavey noted.”If you lose track of that, you are missing out on what you arethere to do first.”

Peavey’s Panthers marched to the Class 4A state championship in2004, posting a 14-1 record. They defeated Clarksdale 29-23 in theDec. 4, state title game.

Johns, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound standout, was the highest recruitedof the class. Recognized as Mr. Football in Mississippi, Johns madea commitment to sign with Alabama after a weekend visit to theTuscaloosa campus in early January.

Despite the commitment, other schools continued to recruitJohns. He had considered Mississippi State, Ole Miss and SouthernMiss for official campus visits.

“I got a billion messages and calls from coaches all over,” saidJohns. “But I felt Alabama was the best decision for me. They’vewon 12 national championships.”

His mother and step-father, Patricia and Charles Butler, alsovisited Alabama and supported their son’s decision. He plans tomajor in business marketing.

“People I didn’t know, and others I hadn’t talked to in 20years, called me about Jimmy’s decision,” said Charles Butler. “Itwas amazing.”

Jessie Bowman (6-0, 305) dominated on defense for Brookhaven. Hesaid he was looking forward to playing for Coach SylvesterCroom.

“I liked the people, the coaches and the atmosphere at State,”said Bowman. He wants to major in sports medicine.

With Bowman were his mother, Barbara Herring; his father, JessieBowman, Sr., and his aunt, Linda Merchant.

Michael Thrasher (6-3, 250) said he was looking forward toplaying for Grambling. He also had offers from Alcorn State andJackson State.

“I like the academics at Grambling,” said Thrasher. With himwere his parents, Linda and Michael Thrasher, Sr.

Darius Perkins (6-3, 242) said he was impressed by thefacilities and the coaches at Northwestern in Natchitoches.”Everyone was real down to earth.”

Perkins said he was looking forward to playing linebacker atNorthwestern. With him for the signing was his mother, DjuanaPerkins, and his grandfather, Frank Coleman.

Tyler Gatlin (6-1, 280), plans to pursue a career in nursing atCo-Lin. He’ll play guard for Coach Glenn Davis.

With Gatlin were his parents, Keith and Stephanie Gatlin.

Zach Ray (6-3, 315) is planning a career in physical therapywhile playing offensive tackle for Co-Lin. With him were hisfather, Jeff Ray; plus his mother, Ruthie, and stepfather, BillyStewart.

Bud Chatman (6-4, 230), a gifted wide receiver, plans on acareer in sports medicine at Co-Lin. With him were his parents,Brenda and Charley Chatman, Jr.

Grant McDonnieal (6-1, 248), will play center at Co-Lin. Hewants to major in sports medicine.

With McDonnieal were his parents, Robert and CathyMcDonnieal.

Ronnie McNulty (5-7, 156), blessed with exceptional speed, couldreturn punts and kickoffs at Co-Lin, besides playing tailback. Hewants to major in business.

With McNulty, was his mother, Margaret McDaniel.

Lawrence Co. Signees

Linebackers J.P. Lewis and Kentario Hardy of Lawrence Countysigned scholarships yesterday. Lewis signed with Southern Miss andHardy signed with Co-Lin.

Lewis (6-3, 195), will join former LCHS star Wayne Hardy at USM.He said he wants to major in teaching and coaching.

With Lewis yesterday was his mother, Mrs. Sylvia Wallace-Lewis.He is the son of the late Mozel Lewis who passed away lastyear.

Hardy (6-2, 205) will pursue a career in nursing when he isn’tplaying linebacker for the Wolfpack. With him were his parents,Mableine May and Wayne Hardy, Sr.

“I’ve coached them since eighth grade,” said LCHS head coachMike Davis. “They’re both good kids with great families. They’resolid students, too.”

Franklin County Signees

Four players from Franklin County signed scholarships yesterday.Quarterback Jasper O’Quinn signed with Delta State University.Offensive lineman Kyle Tutor, defensive back Jonathan Brooks anddefensive end Deandrea Davis signed with Co-Lin.