Desean Smith and Melvin Jones took another step closer to careers in Tigertown, inking national letters of intent with LSU on the first day of the signing period.
They were two of more than a dozen are athletes who committed to colleges.
Smith’s signing capped a senior season in which he helped Barbe High reach the Class 5A state championship game for the first time in three decades. He also played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio last month.
“It is a blessing, not every kid gets this opportunity,” Smith said. “Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed about playing in Tiger Stadium. It’s here now, my dream came true. I worked hard for it. It does not come to you. If you put the effort, sweat, blood, tears and time into this game, you can make it.”
Jones, a two-way star at Washington-Marion the past two seasons, will play linebacker at LSU, leaving offensive duties behind after leading the Charging Indians to consecutive playoff berths as a part-time quarterback.
“I have been waiting on this basically my whole life,” Jones said. “It felt like home at LSU, there was a connection from the beginning. I will bring size and speed, a good attitude, being a leader on the field.”
Jones said he is nearly 100 percent healthy after missing the last three weeks of the season with a knee injury.
The duo will be joined at LSU by St. Louis kicker Alex Kjellsten, who will go to Baton Rouge as a preferred walk-on.
Four other Charging Indians inked letters of intent, with Greg Lewis, Reggie Braxton and Leon Guillory all headed to Louisiana College and Isaac Roberts to Arizona Western.
At Barbe, defensive back Callen Smith signed with McNeese State while offensive lineman Logan Woods and kicker Jamie McGee both signed with Arkansas-Monticello, which is coached by former McNeese quarterback Hud Jackson.
Smith’s dad, Mike, also played for the Cowboys.
“I feel I have a great opportunity to play pretty quick there,” Smith said. “They have a great tradition and continue to improve.”
Hamilton Christian had a trio of football signees with offensive lineman Jeremiah Guillory inking with Grambling State, defensive tackle Isaiah Wheeler headed to Northwestern State and defensive back Seth Edwards going to Alabama State.
“I liked the coaches. They all came and got to know me personally, they have a new stadium and the other recruits are nice,” Edwards said of ASU.
“The coaches made me feel like home, I am ready to compete and do what I have to do to get on the playing field,” Wheeler said.
A fourth Warrior, Richard Gillespe, will play at Louisiana College as a walk-on after receiving an academic scholarship.
LaGrange had a handful of signees, led by defensive back Tirell Wellmaker, who signed with Central Arkansas.
“When I went out there, I saw it was a family; the facilities were nice and it is a winning program,” Wellmaker said.
Other Gators moving on are running back Robert Leday, defensive lineman Mackenzie Lewis and receiver Nick Pitre, all whom signed with Independence (Kan.) Community College. Receiver Freddie Williams signed with Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College.
Sulphur running back/receiver Brian Walker signed with Stephen F. Austin, while DeRidder defensive back Sam Ford signed with Henderson State.
Basile had a pair of signees, with running back Kevin Hardy and tight end/defensive end Kaleb Bergeaux both signing with Louisiana College.
A trio of distance runners — Sam Pavlovich of Sam Houston, Hayley Guidry of Lacassine and Sarah Booth of St. Louis — signed with the University of New Orleans.