Six Jackson High School student athletes on Feb. 6 signed to play sports at colleges and universities.

The senior class of 2019 National Signing Day commits included five Red Devils football players and one Lady Devils soccer player. The signing ceremony was held in the Jackson High School commons area before a large crowd of students and family members.

Morgan Christian, who only started playing soccer as a high school freshman, will attend LaGrange College, where several Lady Devils before her have gone.

“She’ll be joining three of her previous teammates there when she goes, so we’re really, really excited for her to experience that,” Lady Devils soccer coach Sarah Miles said.

Christian said she plans to major in art. “I love the art program at LaGrange,” she said. “And I love the team. It’s so nice. And I love the campus and I love the people there.”

Jackson High football player Andrew Barnes signed to play at Shorter University.

“He’s been a staple around here in several different sports during his time at Jackson High School,” head football coach Dary Myricks said. “He’s done a great job in the character category and leadership category. He’s worked his tail off for us.”

Barnes said he chose Shorter after a couple of visits and attending a game. “Throughout the campus I felt like I was at home. I love the environment and I love the coaching staff. I love how they’re doing a new program,” he said.

Barnes said he plans to major in education.

Red Devil Trevor Word signed to play at the University of South Alabama.

Myricks said Word’s maturity makes it like having an adult on the team. “He’s responsible, respectful, reliable,” Myricks. “He does everything right.”

“I really like the campus. It was really nice and there are a lot of good facilities for football,” Word said. “It was a really good city to go to, and they’ve got a really good business school.”

Namiyun “Toto” Smith signed with Morehouse College.

“He’s been successful around here in every sport,” Myricks said, noting that Smith will play football and be on the track team. “He’s been a great athlete for us. He finished second in the state in long jump last year.”

Smith said he was excited by the opportunity. “I like the environment a lot,” Smith said. “It’s historical.”

Brothers Dequarius and Laderrick Johnson also signed commitments Feb. 6. Dequarius will play for Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn., while Laderrick will play at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“He took a visit this weekend and really loved it and decided he was going to further his education,” Myricks said.

“I was amazed,” Dequarius said. “All the people there are good people to communicate with. I can talk to the coach whenever I need to talk to somebody. They’re very helpful.”

He said he plans to study business and marketing.

Myricks said Laderrick is believed to be the first Red Devil to play at the U.S. Naval Academy.

“He’s a young man that has really great character also,” Myricks said. “As far as I know, as long as I’ve been in Jackson, this is the first young man with the opportunity to do this.”

Laderrick said he was inspired by Myricks, who played at Jackson High and went on to graduate from The Citadel.

“It was meant to be,” he said. “I like the program, the education and I’d like to serve my country.”

Myricks noted the students in the National Signing Day group all exhibit strong character, and he believes they will represent Jackson well as they continue their education.

“This morning we had some kids of high character sign. Kids the community, I, the school system, can be proud to send out into the world,” he said. “You can see that just from the universities they signed with. They carry themselves the right way. The walk the halls the right way. … We are so excited about these kids.”

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Michael Davis has been the editor of the Jackson Progress-Argus since 2010. He previously worked as an editor and reporter for the Henry Daily Herald and Clayton News-Daily.