By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
Eleven players officially signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday afternoon at the McKinney Boyd cafeteria in a large gathering of parents, teammates, and several students. Sewell Yost and Ryan Trayner will sign Friday afternoon but attended the event.
The biggest signing of the day was Bryan Driskell, who pledged play college football at the Air Force Academy.
“I really can’t put into words how I am feeling right now,” Driskell said. “I am kind of speechless to be honest. I feel extremely honored and blessed to be in this position right now, and it is just super cool to have my closest people in my life here right now.”
The all-state running back and two-time Tom Landry Award finalist rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career and broke several school records along the way. He rushed for 1,882 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2012, including one receiving score and four special teams touchdowns.
“They said I was going to get a chance to play and maybe even start next year, and I just feel like God paved the way for me to get to this point,” said Driskell.
“As a coach you always look for those kids that you can show to your younger players in your program of what it looks like to do things the right way,” said Boyd football coach Don Drake. “Bryan is one of those kids that have excelled on the field of play but also in the classroom.”
Driskell said he either wants to major in business management or pre-law, but hopes of opening up his own business one day.
“I am going to go there and get a great education while also getting paid to go there, which isn’t bad either,” he said. “I have to serve four years after which is OK because my medical and dental will be free to me, and I won’t really have to depend on my parents. I can become an independent man.”
Air Force, a Division I program in the Mountain West Conference, is known as a wing-T option-oriented offense, something he said will be a welcoming challenge the next four years.
“I love a challenge,” said Driskell. “Air Force is going to be a challenging school, so whatever comes my way I am ready to face them head on.”
Driskell said he is glad the recruiting process is over, but admits the stress was well worth the rewards.
“It was stressful,” he said. “It definitely had its ups and downs, like being courted in a way that I will never be courted again in my entire life. Looking back at it, the whole thing was all worth it.”
Two other football players signed on Wednesday, too, as receiver/defensive back Chris Stanton signed with Truman State University and defensive back Daylon Markham signed with Harding University.
“When I went on my visit I really connected with all the coaches and the people,” said Stanton. “I also thought it was a really good program as well.”
Stanton said the recruiting process was fun when it came to visiting various schools, but said he is focused on having success at the next level early on.
“I am trying to start as a freshman and just go out there and win,” said Stanton.
Markham said it was fun talking to the coaches, but trying to narrow down the choices was not an easy task for him and his family. However, he said he felt right about his decision to choose Harding.
“I love the family atmosphere that they had, plus the team and coaches are really good as well,” said Markham. “I want to start as well and just got out there and play hard. Just try to win some ballgames.”
“Most of all, you are getting three kids that are high character, work hard, and do things the right way,” said Drake in regards to the three seniors. “They get the job done in the classroom, which is why they have the opportunity today, and they carry that same work ethic and attitude onto the field of play where they have been successful. It is a well-deserved opportunity with the amount of work that they have put in.”
“We hate to see all those guys go because it was a great class, but I am excited about their futures.”
Despite their season coming to an end last night, two Lady Bronco basketball players signed letters of intent on Wednesday. Julia Hendrieth signed with Dillard University and Micaela Gonzalez signed with UT Tyler.
“I think both schools are going to get two fine ladies that work really hard,” said Boyd girls basketball coach Rochelle Vaughn. “I think they were tremendous additions to our program, and I wish that we could have had them for another year because they are such a big part of McKinney Boyd. The returning players are going to have some big shows to fill.”
“I chose Dillard because it is an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and that is something I have always wanted to do,” said Hendrieth. “It is a big, strong academic school as well as a good basketball team. They don’t have a football team so I was ready to go to a school where basketball was the biggest sport.”
Hendrieth was the leading scorer for the Lady Broncos in 2012, averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounding every night from the floor. She was regarded as one of the leaders on the team and a main reason why the Lady Broncos were in the playoff race to the very last game.
“Obviously she was a big part for us because she average a double-double every night in scoring and rebounding,” said Vaughn.
Despite her ability to score the basketball, Hendrieth said she expects to have a different kind of role her first year on campus.
“I am going in as more of a rebounder than a scorer,” she said. “They are looking at me to play hard, and they have some seniors leaving so they are relying on me to fill some shoes.”
Looking back at her four years at Boyd, Hendrieth said she will miss the little moments from practice and games the most.
“I am going to remember the memories with the team the most. I have been playing with K.K (Gonzalez) since seventh grade, so I’ll remember all the practices and games with her and the other girls.”
Now that signing day is over, Hendrieth said she could finally take a deep breath again.
“It is the most stressful part of my life that I have ever experienced,” she said. “I am glad that it is over and it is a big burden off my back.”
For Gonzalez, a shoulder injury kept her of the floor for four games in district play, but the senior was an important member of the Lady Broncos because she provided the team energy to play, according to Vaughn.
“Gonzalez was the heart and soul of our team and played with so much heart every night,” said Vaughn. “That girl has been through so much that just to see her on the court gives us joy.”
Gonzalez said she chose UT Tyler because of the family atmosphere amongst the girls that were there.
“What I was really looking for was the family feel with the teammates. It wasn’t really about the divisions or the coaches; it was mostly about how I blended with the team,” she said. “They are like a family and they accepted me with open arms during my first visit, so I felt at home there and that is why I chose Tyler.”
While she “hated” the recruiting process and is relieved it is all over, Gonzalez said she is excited about the opportunity to play her style of basketball while at Tyler.
“They love to take charges and so do I, so I will fit in when it comes to that,” she said. “My freshman year I hope to get some playing time, but I just want to prove myself.”
Despite the recent disappointment from missing the playoffs this season, Gonzalez said she would only remember the good times with her teammates.
“I will definitely remember the girls. I already don’t remember the record or anything like that. All I remember are the girls, and the memories are the things I am going to take with me,” she said.
“I give everyone the same advice and tell them is doesn’t matter what level of competition you play at,” said Vaughn about the advice she gives to her players on recruiting trips. “When you get to a college you have to look at it like a job. I told them to pick a school that you would go to if you were not playing sports. Things can happen in four year. You may not want to play anymore or you get hurt, so pick a school that you want to be at if you weren’t playing sports.”
Four girls soccer players inked their letters on intent, as Allison Coleman will attend Central Arkansas, Marleigh Essler will attend Tulsa, Anna Scales signed with the University of Mobile, and Hailey Hunt signed with Stephen F. Austin.
“Marleigh Essler is our senior goalkeeper that is the heartbeat of our team,” said Boyd girls soccer head coach Michele Estes. “Our success will depend on her performance greatly. She is going to the University of Tulsa, which is a quality program.”
Essler was a member of the 2011 state championship team at Boyd, and has had eight shutouts this season in the net.
“She is a great person and part of a great family,” said Estes.
“Allison Coleman is a senior captain for me and was a part of the 2011 state championship as well,” said Estes. “They (Central Arkansas) are very lucky to have her because she should step in and play the moment she gets there.”
“Hailey Hunt is probably one of the most skilled players in the state. Stephen F. Austin is getting a steal with her,” said Estes. “Lastly, Anna Scales is probably one of the most athletic players we have on the team and one of the fastest. Academically it is a big time school (Mobile) so she should have a tremendous challenge there.”
“Across the board I think four schools got very lucky with their kids this year.”
Boyd will travel to Plano West on Tuesday night in the District 10-5A opener, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Plano’s Clark Stadium.
Raul Serrano and Dillon Farrell were the two boys soccer signees at the ceremony, as Serrano will attend Messiah and Farrell will attend Ouachita Baptist University. Sewell Yost and Ryan Trayner will both sign with Ouachita on Friday when their parents are back in town.
Yost leads the team with nine goals while Trayner has five goals on the season. Serrano and Farrell have each scored one goal each.
Boyd will host Plano West in the District 10-5A opener next Tuesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m.