Blog: Hundreds of student athletes commit to college scholarships

Sports Director Sam Kouvaris' running commentary on National Signing Day

By Sam Kouvaris - Sports Director

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - News4Jax sports director Sam Kouvaris updated a blog throughout National Signing Day on the events Wednesday at schools across the First Coast. 

5 p.m.

The two biggest ceremonies of the day were also two of the last ceremonies held. At Creekside High School in St. Johns County, they featured 24 seniors who signed on the dotted line. Among them, members of the state title-winning swimming team, led by Abbey Ellis, who signed with South Carolina, who received their championship rings as part of the ceremony. "Fast competition in the pool, and academically, their honors college is one of the tops in the country so the pretty much offer everything," Ellis said. 

Creekside's ceremony was topped by Ponte Vedra's event with 25 student-athletes. Among them, Duncan Van Kouteren, who starred as a linebacker for the Sharks. He signed today with West Point.

4 p.m.

It was the most successful season in Bartram Trail football history. No surprise then that six seniors signed letters of intent this afternoon to play in college next season. One Bears QB, Joey Gatewood is already at Auburn while Riley Smith signed to play at Boise State next year.

According to head football coach Darrell Sutherland, John Amell is not only a prototype linebacker, but an even better young man. Sutherland is headed to the Naval Academy. “He is very impressive, the Navy is getting a good one,” Sutherland told us at the signing celebration.  Amell says that he has many family members that served their country and is very excited to be the next. “It’s a 40-year commitment, not just a 4-year one. Not many people get to have the opportunity I have going to the Naval Academy and I can’t wait.”

3 p.m.

Twelve student athletes at Bishop Kenny representing 5 different sports signed letters of intent just before 2 o’clock. Birdie Lombardo will continue her girls soccer career at SEC power Georgia. Five football players including RB Marquez Wells signed letters of intent. Wells will play at Mount Union. Kenny was also the home to the only D1 wrestling commitment in the area. Josiah McCallum will wrestle for the Mountaineers of Appalachian State in the fall.

With their powerhouse football program it’s no surprise that Trinity Christian will send six players to the next level for 2018. Tyreke Johnson, one of the top players in the country committed to Ohio State. He signed early and is already in Columbus. Eric Gilyard is headed to UCF and Chamarri Conner to Virginia Tech. Nyem Bozeman and Evan McGhee committed to Savannah State and Jesse Urbina signed with North Carolina Central. The Conquerors had four other players in three sports also sign scholarship offers including Abigail Summersill who will play golf at Georgia Military College. Tyler Isenberg is headed to the University of Arkansas to play baseball. Connor Carter will also play baseball at Thomas University.

2 p.m.

This year’s Lee Generals had seven signees, five of them to play football. Vincent Davis and Eugene Bowman continued the recent pipeline of former Generals turned Bulls. They will both move on to the University of South Florida. When asked why USF both Davis and Bowman said, “We’re Florida boys to the core and didn’t want to go to far away from home.”

Lindsey Vansant won’t be going far from home either. She will run cross-country at UNF. 


Twelve student athletes at Bishop Kenny representing 5 different sports signed letters of intent just before 2 p.m. Birdie Lombardo will continue her girls soccer career at SEC power Georgia. Five football players including RB Marquez Wells signed letters of intent. Wells will play at Mount Union. Kenny was also the home to the only D1 wrestling commitment in the area. Josiah McCallum will wrestle for the Mountaineers of Appalachian State in the fall.

1 p.m.

At Harvest Community the commitment to America’s service academies continued as Gavin Marts signed a letter of intent with the Naval Academy in Annapolis. Gavin is former Jaguars Linebacker and Channel 4 Football Analyst Lonnie Marts’ son. “It is a big commitment but I’m looking forward to it,” Gavin said after putting pen to paper. “Most other coaches I talked to seemed to want me to play for their agenda. The coaches at the Naval Academy don’t have that agenda. They offered me a scholarship and I took it right there.”

11:30 a.m.

At Mandarin High ten students committed to play at the next level in six sports. Embry Riddle signed Ashley Hargiss for volleyball and Jared Kane for lacrosse. Alyssa Viner will swim at the University of Puerto Rico. That’s where her entire family has historically gone to school and she said that’s the place that felt most like home.

Kensey McMahon will do the same at Alabama. McMahn never lost a single race in the Gateway conference during her swimming career at Mandarin. Kyle Smith is headed to Bethune Cookman to play football. Carson Sapp goes to JU on the soccer team. Four baseball players will play in college. Jose Sevillano at FSCJ, Evan Michelson at Chattahoochee, Ethan Camps at South Georgia and Nolan Lepkoske will play at UCF. 

FOLLOW: Twitter coverage from the News4Jax sports team on signing day

9:20 a.m.

It’s not supposed to be as big as it used to be, but don’t that tell any of the students, parents, grandparents and classmates who attended the early Signing Day celebrations in North Florida. Starting before school at 8 a.m. schools announced signings in football, golf, soccer and baseball among others. 

The day kicked off at Atlantic Coast where a pair of girl’s golfers were highlighted in their ceremony. Ramya Meenakshisundaram will play for the University of South Florida and Amelia Root will join her sister Emily at the United States Naval Academy. Emily graduated from Providence last year and now will have her sister as a teammate in Annapolis. Both helped Atlantic Coast to the state championships for the first time this year. The Stingrays had 10 total signees on Wednesday.
8:45 a.m.

Bolles had 11 student athletes participate in signing day. Five of the six football signees are already at their colleges. The early signing day in December allows players to sign a letter of intent, graduate from high school and get to college in time for spring practice. Offensive lineman Nick Lewis signed with the University of Kentucky. Cami Dade will join Lewis at Kentucky to play soccer for the Wildcats. Two other girls soccer players also signed letters of intent. One boy’s soccer player, Alex Salvador will stay close to home and play for JU.

It is an accomplishment for any school to have a student athlete commit to a military Academy but to have two in the same class who happened to be boyfriend and girlfriend is very unusual. At Bolles, Isaiah Morris will play football at West Point, and Aunikah King will play soccer there both signed letters of intent Wednesday morning. “It’s amazing,” said Morris. “To have my girlfriend there with me and her brother will be on the football team with me as well, he’s a sophomore, to have that support group already there will be amazing.”
At the same time this morning, across the Southside to Providence, where the Stallions signed 10 student athletes to letters of intent. Their signing day had a Jaguars feel to it as former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley’s son Carter signed to play for the University of Toledo and Will Mallory, son of current special teams assistant Mike Mallory, announced he will join the University of Miami. Three members of the Stallions baseball team will play at the next level, led by Florida State signee Alec Sanchez.

Over at Ridgeview in Clay County, eight Panthers signed letters of intent just after 9 this morning. Four football players, a baseball player and three girls soccer players highlighted the ceremony. Autumn Woodward will play for the Lady Bulls of South Florida while her teammates Kyleigh Reedy and Sarah Golemme signed with Valdosta State and Concordia College. 

Woodward scored over 100 career goals at Ridgeview, the first person to do that in school history. Dorian Duchene and Brandon Thomas will both play football at Mayville State in North Dakota. They transferred to Ridgeview as freshmen and always dreamed of playing college football together. 

At Columbia High School in Lake City six football players will move to the next level. S.L. McCall will play at Iowa Western. Teon Dollard committed to Alabama A&M. Scott Carman goes to Southeastern and Marcel Bell to NC Central. Peyton MacDonald and Jamille Bullock both signed with Webber International.







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