Sports Update > National Signing Day
Five Easy Pieces: College football teams scoop up intricate parts to West's program-best run
As Plano West athletic director, Mike Hughes is used to presiding over Signing Day ceremonies.
But as the head football coach, he has rarely been part of a gathering in which so many of his own players were advancing to the next level. That was the case Wednesday morning as Mason Gentry (SMU), Parker Murry (Sam Houston State), Jake Wodka (Sioux Falls), Nick Green and Stephan Randall (Navarro Junior College) signed to play college football.
"Any time you have guys get the opportunity to play in college, you are very proud," Hughes said. "They all dream of it, but a very small percentage actually get to do it."
West's percentage may have been on the upswing thanks to the team advancing to the Region II Finals for the first time in 2012.
"I'm sure that could have played a factor," Hughes said. "Whenever you go four or more rounds deep in the playoffs, it helps the profile of the school, our program and these kids."
No player rose up the board in 2012 as much as Gentry.
Partially because he wasn't even a football prospect in 2011, better known as a force in the middle of the lineup for West's baseball team. Eventually, Gentry was convinced to try football heading into his senior year.
"I was lucky because I realized I had a chance to be good pretty quickly," Gentry said.
That's a fair statement considering the 6-foot-7, 260-pound defensive end was named first team all-district. Before receiving those accolades, college scouts came calling with SMU contacting him after West defeated Plano Senior and schools like TCU and Tulsa checking on Gentry's interest in playing offensive line.
"It was a very difficult time," Gentry said. "I basically thought for a month straight about whether I wanted to do just football, just baseball or maybe try both before I decided football was the best direction."
Going straight football won't take effect until college as Gentry had a baseball scrimmage the night before his signing in anticipation of Feb. 21's season opener.
"Hopefully now there won't be as much pressure with baseball," Gentry said.
While Gentry is staying in the Metroplex to play college football, it was another Metroplex experience (specifically watching the Bearkats practice at Frisco's Pizza Hut Park prior to the FCS National Championship Game) that convinced Murry to go with Sam Houston State.
"You could see that team was like a family," Murry said. "It was a lot like West in terms of how genuine everyone was."
Prior to that, Murry had been struggling with his decision.
"I had finally found the place that felt right," he said. "None of the visits or places I had looked at before had what I was really looking for and I was kind of discouraged."
Murry's desire was to play, "big-time college football," and at Sam Houston State he should have that opportunity. Murry, a second team all-district center at West in 2012, will remain on the interior line for the Bearcats as they try to improve on two straight FCS Championship losses.
"Hopefully I can be part of the group that takes them over the top," Murry said.
While Murry is looking to help establish a championship pedigree at his new school, Randall (offensive and defensive lineman) and Green (defensive end) are entering a Navarro program steeped in championships. The Bulldogs have finished first the last six seasons in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference and won the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship in 2010.
"There's a lot of history there," Green said. "And I'm glad to be part of the tradition."
So is Randall, as evidenced by the fact the three-year letterman was the first to sign his letter of intent and loudly rejoiced, "bam, I'm done."
Green shared similar enthusiasm at the prospect of continuing to play with Randall.
"We've been playing together since we were at Frankford (Middle School)," he said. "It's like a brotherhood."
A brotherhood that was further forged by the Wolves' program-best 2012 season.
"What a hell of a year," Murry said. "I've played with several of these guys for a really long time, so to be able to complete this voyage together is just an incredible feeling."