SAKS — Every year on National Signing Day, each school has a different routine.
On Wednesday at Saks High, principal Jody Whaley made it feel like a family reunion, so one can understand why Tray Huguley (Independence Community College), LaDerrick Bell (Austin Peay), Kaynan Mays (ICC) and Jordan Brooks (University of Cumberland, an NAIA program) chose their respective schools.
When Bell discussed his reason for signing with Austin Peay, he said, “It just makes you feel like you’re at home. And that’s what I wanted in a school.”
Whaley started the presentation by asking the foursome to introduce themselves, their family members and requesting a family member say something about the teenagers. This concluded with Saks head football and basketball coach Jonathan Miller standing beside all four seated Wildcat players and sharing a funny story about each.
“These four guys have, obviously, been a major part of our success the past few years and are very good kids,” Miller said. “More than anything, they’ve matured into young men and have grown up a lot over the past four years.”
Bell (quarterback), Mays (linebacker) and Brooks (offensive and defensive line) made The Anniston Star’s All-Calhoun County squad this past season. Bell rushed for 1,154 yards and 19 touchdowns and throwing for 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns and was named the The Star’s Calhoun County Class 4A-6A Player of the Year by The Anniston Star. Brooks led the Wildcats with 32 pancake blocks on the offensive line, while Mays was credited with 138 tackles, 13 for a loss, six sacks and one interception.
Huguley was a standout for Miller on both the football field and basketball court in the past but was too old to play high school sports this calendar year.
“The coaching staff is what really stood out to me,” Mays said. “They really care about the players and how they treat them. For that nature, I just enjoyed the whole thing while I was up there.”
“There’s no feeling like today,” Brooks said. “This is just something I’ve been thinking about since I was a young child. Now that I actually get to it, it’s amazing.”