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Early Signing Day: notable local football players commit to college choices

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wednesday's Early National Signing Day for football players around the country proved to be even more popular than last year. 

Last year was the first year that this early signing day was implemented, allowing players to make their college choices official two months earlier than before. Nationally, a huge majority of the top players decided to sign on the dotted line today, as did a number of local players.

Early signing day kicked off at Baldwin Wednesday morning around 8 a.m., where a pair of players signed. Quarterback Gavin Screws is heading to Troy while wide receiver Richie Coffey is heading to Mercer. Both helped lead the Indians to their first home playoff game in school history and they finished the season ranked #10 in our News4Jax Super 10 poll. Next up, they'll be taking their talents to the college level.

"It's actually what's taking place of the national signing day in February, because 80-percent of high school athletes signed in the early signing period, so I thought it was just best for me and my opportunities that I have at Mercer."

For Screws, signing his National Letter of Intent was surreal and felt more like playing a video game.

"Everyday, me and my best friend play NCAA football and it's like, we're going to be here some day," Screws said. "The first offer you get on your road to glory on NCAA football is from Troy University. I'm like, that's going to be me one day. I'm going to get this offer."

Screws will be joined at Troy by Baker County offensive lineman Tyler Burnsed.

Among the other football players signing Wednesday, a trio at Bartram Trail.

Griffin Helm (New Hampshire), Gunnar Hitzeman (Gardner Webb) and Devin Ellison (Georgia Tech) all signed their letter of intent.

Two of the stars from Trinity Christian also signed Wednesday. Running back Marcus Crowley, the Gatorade football player of the year in Florida, signed with Ohio State, while wide receiver Isaiah Washington is heading to Rutgers.

A pair of Sandalwood Saints committed Wednesday, defensive back Antonio Clary is going to Virginia and offensive lineman Kingsley Eguakun committed to Florida.

Fletcher receiver Jeremiah Payton signed with Miami.

After converting a fourth down on a fake punt, Fletcher ties it up 7–7 with 6:25 remaining in the 2nd quarter, touchdown catch by Jeremiah Payton, a Miami recruit. @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/xM78s3YqNf

Ed White offensive lineman Yontez Jarrell inked with Charlotte.

At Bolles, offensive lineman Pearson Toomey committed to Furman.

One of the area's top running backs, Keyshawn King of Oakleaf signed to attend Virginia Tech. Aric Horne, one of the stars of the 4A state champions Raines, will play at Iowa State, while Fleming Island tight end Sam Snyder chose Baylor.

Westside's Javon Gantt chose Central Michigan.



St. Augustine offensive lineman Jeremy Michaux is heading to Wofford.

Creekside quarterback Tai Lavatai is heading to the U.S. Naval Academy. He signed while wearing an Annapolis shirt.



In Georgia, Brunswick offensive lineman Warren McClendon is heading to Athens, signing with Kirby Smart's Bulldogs.

Camden County had a trio of players sign, linebacker Roninn Wright (Middle Tennessee), wide receiver Logan Berryhill (South Florida) and versatile Trace Dorminy (Army) all signed their LOIs Wednesday.


About the Author:

Cole joined News4Jax full-time in January 2017, but he has been a part of the team since he began filling in as a sports anchor in 2005.