Sunday, February 15, 2015

National Signing Day (2-4-2015)

National Signing Day (2-4-2015)

February 4, 2015 may not be a date that lives in infamy but it was still a big day in the United States, Texas and Muleshoe High School. It is known as National Signing Day. The earliest date that a high school athlete can ink his/her name to a Letter of Intent to play college sports.

Muleshoe High School’s principal, Steve Myatt, explained the importance of the day to those attending Wednesday’s signing in the Muleshoe High School Library. He then introduced the three Mules that were signing with three different schools and in two different sports.

Wesley Clarkson along with his mom and brother were seated at the first table decorated with a baseball, a bat and a glove along with Vernon Junior College baseball tee shirts.

Dustin Smith was seated at the center table along with his parents and younger brothers. His table had a football and a Mule football helmet along with an Eastern New Mexico University banner and tee shirt. 

Keagan Gonzales, with his parents, occupied the third table. It too held a football and an Oklahoma Panhandle State University helmet and banners.

Myatt called for each young man to sign his Letter of Intent in order. Once the formal signings were complete friends and family could congratulate each of the athletes. The athletes were then interviewed by a Lubbock television station and those interviews were seen both on the six and ten o’clock news.

Clarkson had recently taken a college day and visited the Vernon Junior College Campus and worked out with the Chaparral baseball team.

“They really made me feel at home,” said Clarkson. “I really liked the Vernon campus and enjoyed the workout with the Chaparrals. They have had a lot of success in baseball and last year sent 16 players on to Division I schools.”

“I liked the idea of maybe signing with a larger university a couple of years in the future. I had an opportunity to pitch and they had a radar gun. They said I threw my fastball at 86 mph.”

“I am looking forward to starting baseball after we finish the playoffs in basketball. We should be near the top of the district and competing for the District Championship. Last year we won a playoff game and we really want to go deeper in the playoffs this season.”

“Wes (Clarkson) will have played baseball all four of his high school years,” said Mule baseball coach Wes Boatmun. “When he came out as a freshman he was already throwing in the high 70’s with his fastball.”

“We felt like he would develop into something pretty special as a player. Last year he was competing for the top spot in line up and led the team in strikeouts. By the time the playoffs had rolled around his batting had improved and he was very reliable at the plate.”

“I have always felt his main focus was baseball and through the years has attended various camps to improve as a player. In addition to baseball he also played football and basketball,” continued Boatmun.

“Vernon is a great baseball school that has a history of sending players on to D I Universities. There is no telling what Wes’ upside is and I think that is what the Vernon coaches recognized.”

“He just validates what we are trying to do here and I look forward to staying in touch with him. What he does will have ripple effects all the way back to Muleshoe. I am very excited for him and his family.”  

Smith had a choice to make between playing football for Wayland Baptist University or Eastern New Mexico University.

“It really was a hard decision to make between Wayland and Eastern,” said Smith. “Wayland wanted me to play offensive tackle which is the position I played in high school. Eastern thought I would fit better at center or quick guard.”

I choose Eastern because I wanted to challenge myself to play at a higher level. Wayland is a NAIA school while Eastern is a Division II NCAA school. The level of play is higher at D II.”

“I was very comfortable with the coaches and players at Eastern and it just felt like the right choice for me. I really enjoyed high school football and am proud of the honors that have come my way. But now I am ready to move to the next level and continue to improve as a person and as a player.”

Keagan Gonzales played several positions as a Mule and went from being a defensive end and receiver in his senior season to playing quarterback. The Mules won the District 1-3A Championship by defeating the Littlefield Wildcats in the ’War on 84’. He was seeking a family oriented school where he could play football.

“I found what I was looking for at Oklahoma Panhandle State University,” said Gonzales. “I was not looking for the largest amount of money in a scholarship but wanted to play at a very family oriented school.”

“The coaches and players I have met so far have made me and my family feel like we are at home when we are on the campus. It is a small enough school that you get to know most of the other students.”

“They have some great coaches. OPSU plays a little different style of football than we do here but the transition should be smooth. I plan to be preparing to play at the next level between now and next August when I will report to school. It will be a great adventure for me.”    

“Three athletes signing today from one small school speaks well for Muleshoe High School,” said Mule football coach and Athletic Director, David Wood. “There are many larger schools that did not get to do this today.”

“Wes (Clarkson) came to me and wanted to play football because he want to be apart of the team with his friends. He proved to be an effective punter. He also plays basketball but his game is baseball.”

“He is now throwing 86 mph fastballs and that is outstanding. Guys throwing in the 90’s get paid to play.”

“Keagan (Gonzales) came to us as a sophomore and is a very talented and goal oriented young man. He is a versatile player and had been a defensive end, running back, receiver and quarterback for us.”

“He stepped in at quarterback and led us to a District and Bi-District Championships this past season. He should do very well at Panhandle State University,” continued Coach Wood.

“Dustin (Smith) came here with his dad, Coach William Smith. He had high expectations for himself and his dad had high expectations of him also. He anchored our line on both sides of the ball.”

“We expect our athletes to be willing to work hard and all three of these young men were more than up to the task. No challenge was to great for them and they will do well at their chosen schools and sports.”

Those in attendance enjoyed visiting with the athletes and their parents as well as refreshments.  

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