He’s referring to the event known as National Signing Day, the first day that high school athletes can sign their National Letter of Intent committing to attend a specific college and play football the upcoming fall, often in return for sizable athletic scholarships. Each year, Fork Union helps dozens of its players from its prep and postgraduate teams make their way to college to play at the next level. This year was no exception, as more than 30 athletes made known their college commitments. And, as usual, there were some great stories.

While the school’s postgraduate program garners a great deal of national attention because of the high caliber of players it has produced over the years, such as current national champion quarterback Cardale Jones and past Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde, the regular high school prep football team never lacks for talent. This year it was senior Micah Keels of Washington, DC representing the prep team at the school’s National Signing Day ceremony, as he signed his commitment to play for the prestigious University of Richmond.

And for those who mistakenly suspect Fork Union’s renowned college prep program is simply a football factory, they might want to take a look at Keels’ transcript. His previous schools might have placed him in classes like Painting and Intermediate Handbells, but in the past year and a half he’s been at Fork Union, he’s not only improved his grade point average significantly, he’s done so while taking classes like honors Spanish IV, honors physics, and advanced algebra and trigonometry. “He’s definitely dug in here academically,” the school’s Academic Dean, COL Todd Giszack said. Keels is currently pulling an A in statistics.

Another very special story is Nicholas Schrage, an outstanding kicker/punter who received multiple offers including one from the University of Miami in the city where he was born. But Schrage decided that life is bigger than football and signed today to play for Army at the US Military Academy at West Point. “It really was hard to say no to the University of Miami, because I am a Miami native,” said Shrage in describing his choice. “But having come to Fork Union, I found my priorities in life and what really was important. I felt that overall, in what I really wanted to do in life, what I wanted to pursue, there was no better option than to go to West Point. I couldn’t be happier. This is the best day of my life.”

Two Fork Union players are seeking to follow in their father’s footsteps, each joining the University of Virginia Cavaliers in the fall. Trenton Jenkins, an offensive lineman, and Austin Petty, a linebacker, have both chosen to commit to the Wahoos as walk-ons, not letting the school’s full scholarship roster keep them from playing on the same field as their fathers. Joe Jenkins was the team’s punter in the mid-1970s, and Howard Petty put his name in the record books for the most rushing yards by a freshman running back. Those are big shoes for each young man to fill, but they each express excitement at the opportunity to continue the family legacy.

Coach Shuman expects more players to be placed in college programs in the days and weeks ahead. Below is the list of currently committed players.


First Name Last Name Position School

Damen Daniel DE/TE Bluefield University

Justin Cates DT/DE East Mississippi Community College

Jamal Pickett RB/DB Globe Institute of Technology

Thomas Williamson OL Liberty University

Eli Farinholt WR/DB Michigan State University

Trevor Owens K/P Middle Tennessee State University

Santoni Graham FB/LB Monroe College

Walter Brantley DL Norfolk State University

Wesley Jones OL Norfolk State University

Craig Rodwell OL Norfolk State University

Cornelius Tyler DT/DE Norfolk State University

Homer Barnett OL/DL Old Dominion University

Jeremy Cox RB/DB Old Dominion University

Harrison Elam OL/DL Saint Francis University

Torsten Norberg OL Saint Francis University

Jae’lon Oglesby WR Southern Methodist University

Olan Abner DB Stony Brook University

Mason Phoenix TE/DE University of Maine

Donovan McDonald WR University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Thomas Doctor DE/C University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Khayri Denny WR/DB University of Rhode Island

Nasir Jones DB University of Rhode Island

Micah Keels DB University of Richmond

James Jenkins OL University of Virginia

Austin Petty LB University of Virginia

Nicholas Schrage K/P US Military Academy at West Point

Xavier Burke TE/DE Virginia Tech

Jack Click QB Virginia Tech

Yosuah Nijman DE/TE Virginia Tech

Steven Peoples RB/FB/LB Virginia Tech

Tyrone Barber RB West Virginia State University

Video of today’s signing ceremony with the players currently on campus can be found on YouTube at this link:


You can also see interviews with the family of Micah Keels (http://youtu.be/sS_H7Fvc7RY) and the family of Nicholas Schrage (http://youtu.be/6l6pSubtVuU).


Photos from the signing ceremony can be found in the gallery at:



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