Liberty Christian offensive lineman Brad Lundblade wasn’t going to let the lack of a Big 12 scholarship offer dissuade him from accomplishing his dream.
Lundblade turned down offers from North Texas, Tulsa, SMU, Tulane, Louisiana-Monroe, Nevada, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State, Wake Forest and Toledo to walk on at Oklahoma State.
“I just fell in love with Oklahoma State,” Lundblade said Wednesday on national signing day. “It was kind of the reason I committed, because I truly feel like I have the talent to play in the Big 12. I don’t have any doubt about that. That’s why I decided to chase my dream and play in the Big 12.”
With several regional teams in the Big 12, Lundblade said he always watched its games but never quite became a fan of any of the schools. At Oklahoma State, it’s about the opportunity to play on a big stage.
“It was always my goal to play for a big-time program,” Lundblade said. “We live in Big 12 country, so naturally I wanted to play in the Big 12. I want to play for conference and national championships. I visited there [Stillwater] a lot of times. The campus, the coaches, really everything about the program — I just kind of fell in love with every part of the school. Plus, it’s only four hours away from home. That’s definitely a plus. My parents can come see me a lot.”
Lundblade will major in finance and was able to eliminate schools based on educational pursuits, something Liberty coach Greg Price was proud of.
“My advice to him the whole time, when you’re discerning where you want to go to school, is you need to figure where you want to get an education and what level of play is going to satisfy you and keep you motivated,” Price said. “I applaud his commitment and his vision. I think one day he will earn a scholarship and will play for Oklahoma State.”
Guyer’s Taylor signs with Colorado State
Guyer linebacker Demontrie Taylor played his entire high school career with a chip on his shoulder, and on Wednesday his hard work paid off as he signed to play football at Colorado State, choosing the Rams over Boise State and New Mexico State.
Taylor committed to the Rams in October and went on to have a stellar senior season despite missing a few games because of injury. He was a defensive captain and helped lead a turnaround that made Guyer’s defense as strong as its headline-grabbing offense.
The undersized linebacker, who will move to safety, finished last season with 90 tackles, including 31 behind the line of scrimmage. He broke up seven passes and had two interceptions and six sacks.
“He’s a violent player, and when you have that you have guys that make game-changing plays,” Guyer coach John Walsh said.
Taylor said he will cherish what he was able to accomplish at Guyer, winning state championships in each of his two years as a starter.
“When we all came together, we weren’t really thinking about winning a state title,” Taylor said. “We just thought about winning games and staying together. The more we won, the longer we’d be together.”
Guyer sends five offensive linemen to college
Coming off two straight Class 4A Division I state championships, Guyer showed one reason for its success as five offensive linemen, including a reserve, signed to play college football.
The pack was led by three-year starter Bryan Barrett, who will attend Navy and live out his dream of playing against Football Bowl Subdivision competition. The agile, 315-pound guard finished his senior season with 42 knockdowns and allowed just one sack.
“My dream has come true,” Barrett said. “I’m thankful I’ll be able to play on a big stage.”
First-team all-state selection Hunter Krastin was a three-year starter for Guyer and never missed a game, making 44 starts at guard and center. He finished 2013 with 44 knockdowns and allowed just one sack and signed with East Texas Baptist.
Tackle Jerod Fritsch, who signed with Northwestern State, had never played offensive line before last season. He was moved to tackle from tight end during the season opener because of an injury and never relinquished his starting spot. He finished with 33 knockdowns and allowed just two sacks while protecting Jerrod Heard against opponents’ best pass rushers.
Center Jordan Thompson, who also saw time at guard, made the most of his first season as a starter, earning a scholarship to Colorado Mesa after tallying 27 knockdowns and not allowing a sack.
Backup lineman Sam McCormick signed with Texas A&M-Commerce.
Guyer must figure out a way to replace all five starters on the offensive line as they make the jump to Class 6A in 2014. Offensive line coach Jeffrey Barnett said it’s a testament to Guyer’s success to see nearly an entire starting unit sign to play college football.
“A lot of it has to do with the work ethic in the weight room and the dedication of getting better at their craft,” Barnett said of his linemen. “Our offensive scheme helps, too. It’s not just a run-heavy scheme and it’s not a pass-happy offense. Because we’re so multiple, you really get to evaluate everyone and their talent in all aspects of the game.”
Guyer duo headed to Trinity Valley in Athens
Guyer running back DJ Breedlove and middle linebacker Marcel Thomas signed to play football at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. The Cardinals finished the 2013 season ranked fifth in the NJCAA poll.
Breedlove, a three-year starter at Guyer, finished the 2013 season with 21 rushing touchdowns and four receiving scores and added two punt-return touchdowns in a playoff win over Waco. He averaged 22.1 yards per punt return.
Thomas, a first-year starter at middle linebacker, led the Wildcats with 146 tackles, including 28 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He had two sacks and two interceptions.
State final MVP Hinnrichs signs with Bronchos
Argyle linebacker Colton Hinnrichs, a mainstay on a team that won the Class 3A Division II championship in 2013, signed a national letter of intent to play football for Central Oklahoma.
Hinnrichs stepped up for the Eagles after senior linebacker and Kansas State signee Sam Sizelove suffered a season-ending knee injury toward the end of the regular season. Hinnrichs finished his senior season with 147 tackles, including 14 for loss.
The senior was named the defensive MVP of the state final after he racked up a game-high 15 tackles.
Denton’s Maxwell signs with Mary Hardin-Baylor
Undecided until the last minute, Denton’s Aaron Maxwell finally committed to Mary Hardin-Baylor when he signed his national letter of intent.
Maxwell was one of the Broncos’ anchors on the defensive line. The second-team All-District 5-4A selection had 27 tackles, with seven for loss. Often double-teamed, Maxwell was able to lead Denton with four sacks to go with nine quarterback hurries.
Two-way star Howell signs
Liberty Christian running back JonAaron Howell signed a national letter of intent with Harding. Howell was named the TAPPS Division I District 1 MVP with 1,262 yards on 188 carries and 14 touchdowns to go along with 27 receptions for 341 yards and four scores.
Howell also was a defensive force for the Warriors. The defensive back finished with 58 tackles, 11 pass breakups and seven interceptions, returning three for touchdowns.
Lake Dallas DB Craig headed to Arkansas Tech
Lake Dallas defensive back Andrew Craig signed a national letter of intent for Arkansas Tech in Russellville. Craig registered 50 solo tackles, 21 assisted tackles and four quarterback pressures for the 6-4 Falcons. He also came up with several game-altering plays, as he forced three fumbles, made two interceptions — taking one for a touchdown — and broke up three passes.
Guyer produces large class
Aside from Hannah Alspach signing with Auburn, the defending Class 4A state champion Guyer Lady Wildcats saw four players sign national letters of intent.
The group was highlighted by Southland Conference signees Peyton Bucklew (Abilene Christian) and Kaitlyn Caro (Nicholls State), who are four-year starters for the Lady Wildcats.
Bucklew has been a stalwart for Guyer’s defensive backfield and was a second-team all-state selection last season. Caro, a midfielder, scored five goals a year ago to go with 17 assists — second on the team behind Alspach — and also was a second-team all-state selection.
“When this class came in as freshmen, we knew we had a special group,” Guyer assistant coach Cory Maxwell said. “They were all talented players with speed, skill, a great attitude and a confidence that coaches like to see.
“When they were sophomores and juniors, we all knew we had a chance to do something special and make a push for the state tournament, and sure enough they made it happen.”
Midfielders Peyton Draper and Jasmine Heffley signed with Smith College and Southwestern Oklahoma State, respectively.
Denton’s Llanes signs letter with Ouachita Baptist
After sitting out her junior season, Denton’s Lauren Llanes returned to soccer for her senior season and has signed a national letter of intent with Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, Ark.
As a goalkeeper, Llanes has posted three shutouts for the Lady Broncos this season in three games with three saves. She also has one goal and one assist as a center midfielder.
Argyle’s Fountain signs with Delta State
Argyle senior outside midfielder Seth Fountain signed with Delta State.
Fountain moved to North Texas following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and flourished for the Eagles the past two seasons. The speedy, unselfish midfielder led Argyle in assists last season and arleady has a team-high eight assists this season, as the Eagles have rolled through the nondistrict portion of their schedule.