All over the country on Wednesday, high school football players will make their college choices official by signing letters of intent.
But there may be no other school where such a big chunk of the student body is doing so than Hales.
The South Side all-boys school has an official enrollment of 123, and 22 of those students were on the football team that made a second straight trip to the IHSA playoffs last fall. Of those 22, four are heading to NCAA Division I schools and another three are expected to play at the Division II level.
“It says we work hard to get where we want to go,” said senior Joe Morrow, who along with teammate Jordan Watson plans to sign with San Diego State.
Morrow, a 6-1, 190-pound receiver and defensive back, originally committed to Central Michigan. But when San Diego State showed interest, the feeling was mutual.
“First off, I always wanted to play in California,” said Morrow, who has relatives in both Ventura, Calif., and Phoenix. “Me and my dad are the only ones who live here.”
The weather and caliber of play in the Mountain West Conference were two more draws for Morrow. Yet another plus was the chance to remain teammates with Watson, a 6-5, 255-pound defensive end. “On the plane there [for the recruiting visit], we were like, ‘If we like it and they offer us, we’re going to take it,’” Morrow said.
The Spartans’ other D-I recruits are quarterback Darrien Boone, who is committed to Central Michigan, and lineman Jeremiah Douchee, who is headed to Dartmouth. Douchee, who has a 4.3 grade-point average and 24 ACT score, is the program’s first Ivy Leaguer.
Expected to wind up at Division II schools are linebacker Kendall Nowling, running back/linebacker Dale Johnson and linebacker Yenka Sykes.
It’s an impressive list of recruits for one of the state’s smallest football-playing high schools. It doesn’t hurt to have talent, but coach Randall Townsel also credits the support of the school’s administration, including principal Erica Brownfield.
The talent pool won’t be running dry when the Class of 2013 graduates this spring, according to Townsel.
He has high hopes for strong safety/running back Patrick Nelson, a 6-1, 195-pounder who was one of three sophomores to make the All-Catholic League Red team last fall. “He’s going to be a big-time player,” Townsel said of Nelson, who has a 3.8 GPA and already has interest from Illinois, Michigan and San Diego State.
And in a couple years, he could be the centerpiece of another big recruiting class for the Spartans.