Tim Lewis, Trent Simpson and Jarrius Orr were recognized at 9 a.m. in front of their parents and friends at Oxford High.
“I think what we’re building here is something that’s going to last for a long time,” Simpson said. “The program is heading in the right direction.”
However, with Simpson grayshirting in the fall at Mississippi State in the fall and Orr an invited walk-on at Jacksonville State, Lewis was the only one in the trio to officially sign and send in an letter of intent.
The offensive lineman, Lewis, said Faulkner was the first school to start recruiting him and he chose the Eagles over Trinity International University in Illinois mostly because of distance.
“Faulkner is second to none,” Lewis said. “They are just one of the best universities in the NAIA. I just love them.”
Simpson was informed by Mississippi State recruiting coordinator Geoff Collins three weeks ago about taking a grayshirt after tearing his ACL in November — meaning he’d enroll in school without an athletic scholarship his first semester. That made the defensive end consider joining his former head coach, John Grass, at Jacksonville State, where Grass is the offensive coordinator.
“I felt comfortable with that coaching staff,” Simpson said of Grass and Chuck Dunn, JSU’s strength and conditioning coach. “It would have been stupid on my part to have not look at it and see what I thought about it.”
Simpson had the opportunity to play baseball and football at either school, but on Monday night decided he wanted to be a Bulldog.
“I went over there three times and during those visits I fell in love with it,” Simpson said about Mississippi State. “It’s everything that I was looking for in a college. And it’s on that big stage.”
Jarrius Orr also had a door open from Jacksonville State because of Grass’ move, and it was one the wide receiver decided to take.
“I never really thought I’d be at JSU, but after coach Grass moved down there, he recruited me,” Orr said. “He told me to come down for a visit and I loved everything about it. I knew coach Dunn down there, too, so I was familiar with two coaches. It’s very exciting to go down to JSU.”
Orr will enter summer workouts as an invited walk-on despite having scholarship offers from Alabama State, Faulkner and Huntingdon. But, he said, those three schools didn’t maintain contact the way Jacksonville State did.
Like Simpson, Orr was also injured in the season’s ninth week. The wide receiver’s season was ended when his knee cap popped out of place mid-game, requiring surgery.
“I get released at the end of the month, so I’ll have to show up this summer,” Orr said. “I’ll just have to go down there, work hard and see if I can play.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.
Players expected to sign National Letters of Intent today:
- Austin Bishop, Piedmont, 6-3, 281, OL, Jacksonville State
- Brad Bozeman, Handley, 6-4, 320, OL, Alabama
- Tevin Cook, Handley, 6-3, 190, WR, North Alabama
- Shaquan Glass, Handley, 6-0, 320, OL, North Alabama
- Trae Kyles, Handley, 5-10, 175, Athlete, North Alabama
- Jamie Major, Piedmont, 6-2, 226, LB, Samford
- Justin Owens, Alexandria, 5-9, 161, RB/DB, Jacksonville State
- Jamari Staples, Clay Central, 6-4, 175, WR, UAB
- B.J. Turner, Spring Garden, 6-3, 270, DL/OL, Faulkner