Wednesday was National Signing Day, the day high school football players can officially commit to play college football next season and Lincoln’s Thomas Holley, Erasmus Hall’s Curtis Samuel, and Poly Prep’s Jay Hayes headlined a group of Brooklyn players that will play Division-I football next season.
“It wasn’t that long ago where we really had to fight for attention from college coaches here in Brooklyn, but that’s not really the case anymore,” Lincoln’s coach Shawn O’Connor said. “Coaches have started to realize that this has become a hotbed for high school football talent and it shows with how many kids signed National Letters of Intent this year.”
Samuel and Hayes made their verbal commitments months ago choosing to go to Ohio State and Notre Dame respectively. Holley’s situation was different because he only started playing football last season. He initially made a verbal commitment to Penn State, but after its coach Bill O’Brien was hired by the Houston Texans, he decided to decommit and instead went with Florida.
“Once O’Brien left, I was worried about him because he built a close relationship with him and he’s an emotional kid so I didn’t know how he would handle it,” O’Connor said. “Once the entire coaching staff left it made it a little bit easier though because it’s an entirely different group of people that he had no connection with. At that point it made sense for him to go to Florida because that was the next group that he was closest with.”
Holley had two teammates sign NLI on Wednesday — Khendell Puryear and Malik Andrews. Andrews, a wide receiver, signed with American International College and Puryear signed with Central Connecticut. The two nearly ended up at the same school though as Central Connecticut only ended up on Puryear’s radar within the last two weeks.
“I only had two other offers from New Haven and AIC,” Puryear said. “New Haven showed me a lot of interest over the summer and I thought I was going to go there, but when coach Pete Rossomando left I figured that I would be going to AIC. I even went on a visit there with Malik and that’s where I thought I was going to go.”
Rossomando, who went to high school at Port Richmond in Staten Island, eventually landed at Central Connecticut and even at a different school he still had interest in Puryear. He also brought with him a coach from the University at Albany that also had interest in Puryear. Once they reached out to him he quickly made up his mind and decided to forgo AIC and went with CCSU instead.
“They told me that they’re at the school, this is where we’re going to stay and it was a fast process after that,” Puryear said. “It’s amazing, I feel relieved, relaxed and eager to get ready for next season. I’m happy that I was able to sign because this was a big goal for me. We went 13-0 this season, won a city title, and signing was just the next step.”
There were quite a few others from Brooklyn that signed including Erasmus Hall’s Jose Duncan, who signed with the University of Rhode Island, and Darin Peart, who signed with Stony Brook. Sheepshead Bay’s Aking Gaston signed with Auburn, Brooklyn Tech’s Deon Mash and New Utrecht’s Richard Wright both signed with C.W. Post and Mark Goldman, an offensive lineman from Midwood, signed with Harvard.
There are expected to be a number of other signings in the upcoming weeks as some kids are waiting on report cards or other eligibility requirements. Dashawn Brice Expect Erasmus Hall’s Khalil Lewin and Lincoln’s Leroy Hancle to sign somewhere. Antoine Holloman should sign at Morrisville along with teammate Tyler Cowley, who has already committed there, and Dashawn Brice from Boys and Girls High School.
I will keep you updated on those possible signings as well as any others I may have missed or materialize.