Eleven local athletes from Plant City and Strawberry Crest high schools signed their letters of intent last Wednesday.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic changed much about the way college sports programs and high school athletes handled recruitment, one of high school sports’ most anticipated traditions stayed the same in the Plant City area and beyond.
National Signing Day, which is the first Wednesday of every February, came and went with 11 athletes from Plant City and Strawberry Crest high schools signing their national letters of intent to play sports at the next level. The two schools are typically the only ones in the Plant City area to host a dedicated National Signing Day ceremony on campus every year and that didn’t change in 2021.
Crest had a total of seven athletes sign their NLIs last week, including three softball players, two baseball players and one player from both the football and girls soccer teams. All four Plant City athletes who signed last week came from the football team, bringing the program’s 2021 count up to five a month and a half after teammate Mario Williams signed with Oklahoma.
Five of the 11 athletes chose to stay in Florida. Ohio and West Virginia were the second-most chosen states, each with two signees, and Maine and North Carolina each had one signee.
Durant High School traditionally does not have National Signing Day events, opting instead to let each individual athlete have a day to themselves throughout the school year. For the 2020-21 winter sports season, the school celebrated as Kendall Drummond of the girls soccer team signed with Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and Matthew Lentz of the boys basketball team signed with Jacksonville University.
All three Plant City-area schools will likely have more athletes sign NLIs by April, which is typically another busy month in the college recruiting scene.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY 2021 ACTIVITY
PLANT CITY HIGH SCHOOL
Javoni Mitchell — West Liberty University (West Liberty, WV)
Aramoni Rhone — Ohio University (Athens, OH)
Jose Rodriguez — West Virginia Wesleyan College (Buckhannon, WV)
Andrew Walden — Lake Erie College (Painesville, OH)
STRAWBERRY CREST HIGH SCHOOL
Bryan Boully — Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, FL)
Colby Fanning — St. Petersburg College (St. Petersburg, FL)
Jackson Bradford — Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
Kali Vician — Montreat College (Asheville, NC)
Alyssa Grimes — Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Hayley Lynch — Nova Southeastern University (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
Sydney Watson — Chipola College (Marianna, FL)