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Area athletes enjoy National Signing Day spotlight

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.Updates throughout the day on area college signings around Northeast Florida for National Signing Day.

4 p.m.

There was no bigger class of signees this year than at Creekside High. The Knights had 27 seniors sign LOIs. Among those, six cross-country runners from the state championship team signed, two of them to the University of Florida (Matthew Clark and Nicholas Deal).

“It’s extremely humbling that this many kids are signing,” Athletic Directory Guy Harris said on Tuesday. “ I hope they take what they learned here at Creekside to the next phase of their lives.”

Harris has been the AD at Creekside since the beginning.

The Knights have two athletes headed to the military academies. Robert “Bo” Schrader will head to the U.S. Naval Academy, and Jack Leonard is going to West Point Military Academy.

Ponte Vedra’s Nick Tronti, named the 5A “Mr. Football” for 2016, is headed to Indiana. It wasn’t until the Sharks headed for the state title game that Tronti received any Division I offers. He picked the Hoosiers over Arizona and others. His teammate, Marshall Few, is headed to Miami. They were joined by a full stage of athletes Wednesday, representing several sports.

3 p.m.

It was a huge day at Trinity Christian, as one might expect. Baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball and football all had representatives moving on to the next level.

The Conquerors will have at least ten football players on scholarships next year. Shaun Wade, everybody’s Mr. Everything is headed to Ohio State. Derrick Smith signed with Miami, and Frankie Onate is the first kicker to sign anywhere from Trinity.  He’s headed to South Alabama.

IMAGES: Signing Day 2017 around the First Coast

Deon Pate will head to Illinois, and DJ Matthews, as expected, signed with Florida State.

Eight players signed from Trinity for baseball, including Dalton Terrell, Logan Nugent and Cameron Jones all headed to USC Sumter.  AJ Labas will stay close to home and signed with UNF.

Four softball players signed Wednesday with Madison Mack, Mo Smith and Madison Williams all headed to Florida State College at Jacksonville. Krystal Haynes signed with Tallahassee CC. 

Volleyball player Jennifer Torres-Perez is also staying close to home, signing with FSCJ, and Chloe Jolly will play soccer at Trinity Baptist.

Eight seniors at St. Augustine High School signed their letters of intent to play football at the next level. Their college choices include Valdosta State, Columbia University and Lafayette.

Providence is also sending eight athletes to the next level, including basketball players Zackery Bryan (UAB) and Kyle Marion (Navy).

2:30 p.m.

An emotional hug between Eagles head football coach Mark Brunell and his son JoJo highlighted signing day at Episcopal. JoJo will attend Georgetown University to play quarterback and go to business school.

"I was just telling him not to cry," said the younger Brunell about his dad, the former Jaguars QB. "He was trying to hold it back pretty hard, but it was an awesome moment."

Another son of a former Jaguar, Adam Boselli, chose N.C. State over Florida State and Clemson to play football. 

In total, 16 athletes from eight sports signed letters of intent.

Katie Ralys will play soccer at the University of Georgia in the fall and says that the amount of different sports represented on signing day is a testament to the school. 

"It's incredible because Episcopal is so academically challenging," she said. "The fact that we can have so many great athletes as well really says a lot about Episcopal."

Among the 16 Episcopal student-athletes signing to play in college Wednesday were two with famous fathers.

Rower Chandler Washburn will head to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Bishop Kenny had its usual mix of athletes from different sports. Football, soccer and volleyball were represented this year.  Chelsea Forbes will play volleyball at Warner University. 

1:30 p.m.

Lee High LB Kierston Johnson picked South Florida over Tulane and Florida Atlantic when he signed his LOI on Wednesday. He'll be joining fellow General Demetrius Harris, who plays guard.

The Generals are sending two other football players and one cross-country athlete on to compete in college.

At Clay High, over 500 students, faculty and parents attended the signing ceremony. The Blue Devils had 10 signees in their lunchroom, nine were football players with a GPA of 3.2 or higher. Clay High played in three regional championships and the state championship game during their tenure.  

The class was headlined by RB Colin Wilson, who is headed to Louisville.

“It’s great. I get to play with a superstar (Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson) every week and just do my job,” Wilson said Wednesday.

The lone non-football player is headed to play soccer at Florida Tech.

Stanton's Jacob Adkins will play football at Stetson, and Alyssa Mahar will play soccer at Concord University.

11:30 a.m.

At Mandarin, Florida’s Mr. Golf of 2016, Brandon Mancheno, said the hardest part was waiting.

He’s been committed to Auburn since his sophomore year and couldn’t wait to get his signature on paper. “I thought this day would never get here,” Mancheno said at the Mustangs' signing ceremony Wednesday morning.

Mandarin will send six players off to college to play football, including Aundre Kearney, who committed to Virginia Tech and was an early enrollee in school this semester in Blacksburg. The Mustangs' Lexi Perkins signed to row at Drake University.  “I just really bonded with the team when I went on my visit,” she said Wednesday morning, explaining her commitment. 

At Nease, Michael Leisle (West Point U.S. Military Academy) and Josh Parker (Stetson University) signed to play in college.

11 a.m.

With its usual large signing class, Bolles had 11 signees in 2017, eight for football and three for girls soccer. Vanderbilt (Leila Azari), South Florida (Leah Ferlin) and Kentucky (Taya Edwards) are the destinations for the Bulldogs women on the pitch.

Mac Jones did the expected and signed with Alabama. The Bolles QB said, “I’m not trying to go up there and be the starting quarterback tomorrow.  I just feel comfortable at Alabama with the staff and Coach Saban.”

The three players committed to the military academies will actually start at the academies' prep schools. Amari Terry and Cody Mercer are going to the Air Force Academy prep school first in Colorado Springs. Jack Lundgren will also start at the Naval Academy prep school in Newport, Rhode Island, before going to Annapolis. Lundgren follows the family tradition of his grandfather and father by attending Navy.

Bolles' Justin Mitchell will play at Harvard, and safety Ahman Ross will play at Florida Atlantic.

Two players from White High will stay on the First Coast for their college football careers. Alex Jakob will play at Jacksonville University, and Chris Robinson will play at Edward Waters College.

9:30 a.m.

It wasn’t a surprise at Ribault when Trojans basketball star Rennia Davis officially signed with Tennessee and Day’Neshia Banks inked her letter with Ole Miss. 

But several other players from the reigning national champion team will also play at the next level from Ribault: LaQuanza Glover and LeTerra Ransom are headed to Edward Waters.

Trojan football players Jalen Ford and Louis Dorsey are also headed to play in college.  Ford at Valdosta State and Dorsey continued the flow of local players to the University of Illinois. 

9 a.m.

It was one of the biggest classes in school history Wednesday when Fletcher had 17 student-athletes in seven sports sign to play in college, including nine football players.

Gavin Jones picked Florida State to continue his swimming career. Jones is a sprinter in the pool and said swimming against local Olympians Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Murphy gave him the motivation to keep going. “I can’t wait to get started,” he said Wednesday morning. 

Kaley Delay, an all-state cross-country runner, will continue running in the Ivy League. Delay, a 4.8 GPA honor student, will join the Yale cross country team this fall. 

Baldwin had three football players sign NLI on Wednesday: Torri Singletary (Tulane), Tyler Murray (Troy) and Herschel Newman (Bluefield College). The Indians' Isaiah Miller is already enrolled at Missouri to play football.

8:15 a.m.

Sandalwood cornerback Ameer Speed made the first big area announcement for National Signing Day on Wednesday morning when he chose Georgia over Michigan State, Oregon, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“As soon as I got to Athens,” Speed said after signing, “it immediately felt like home."

Sandalwood, Raines, Hilliard and Atlantic Coast kicked off the first Northeast Florida ceremonies for Signing Day early Wednesday.

Along with Speed, the Saints are sending 15 student-athletes on to play college sports, including outside linebacker Bradley Jennings, who is already enrolled at Miami, and Qu'ran Hafiz, who is already enrolled at Florida Atlantic. 

Coach Adam Geis said it was the largest number of football players he’s seen sign from the Southside school. Eight Saints signed scholarship offers to play at Division I schools.

Raines has five football players headed to the next level, including OL Jalen Brayboy, headed to FAMU and WR Willie Wright, going to FAU. Wright said, “Lane Kiffin being at Florida Atlantic made the difference.”

Atlantic Coast is sending two baseball players (Jason Swan and Noah Searcy) to Georgia Southern and a swimmer (Tate Callahan) to the University of Florida.