Edmond North High School had plenty of cake to pass around Wednesday as 11 student-athletes signed letters of intent to play a sport at the college level next year.
Parents, coaches, administrators and a throng of fellow students covered the gym floor to watch each student-athlete commit their time and talents to a new school.
Of the 11 athletes, five are staying in state. The others will leave for colleges or universities in Kentucky, Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas and Texas.
Five Huskies signed letters to play football. The remaining athletes will compete in soccer, basketball, track and field, baseball, wrestling and tennis.
In football, Antonio Williams, a defensive back, and Jordan Prince, a defensive back and wide receiver, are headed to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Mitchell Perkinson, a wide receiver and punt returner, and Toby Sanderson, an offensive lineman, each signed as preferred walk-ons at Oklahoma State University and the University of Central Arkansas, respectively. Being a preferred walk-on means each player will have a roster spot, but no scholarship funds.
Also in football, Parker Jure, a defensive lineman, signed to play at the University of The Cumberlands in Kentucky.
Position coaches for each football player had high praise for their seniors.
Sanderson was praised for his work ethic.
“He’s a great kid who has worked his butt off to be where he is today,” said Corbin Frank, North’s offensive line coach.
Brock VanCleave, another North assistant football coach, complimented Williams’ toughness.
“He played through injuries and never made excuses,” VanCleave said. “He gave our spur position an identity that will be tough shoes to fill and I look for big things from him at NEO.”
Perkinson, who is anxious to compete at OSU, should have no problems with motivation, according to assistant football coach Tommy Nash.
“Mitchell has taken advantage of his opportunity and showed sacrifice, dedication and passion in pursuing what he loves to do, which is play football,” Nash said. “I know he will take his lessons he has learned on the field and apply them off the field as well.”
Assistant Football Coach Bryce Powers only had one season with Prince, but he won’t soon forget it.
“There was never a dull moment with Jordan,” Powers said. “He was a great leader and had a great attitude. He was always willing to help others get better, which in turn made him a better player.”
As for Jure, his defensive line coach, Baron Potter, praised his work ethic and attitude.
“Parker has been one of the hardest working and most selfless players I have coached,” Potter said. “He is always willing to do anything that will help the team and I have no doubt that his work ethic and attitude will take him great places.”
Two Edmond North soccer players are taking their skills to the college level.
Grace Brennan is headed to Kansas State University and Karlee Johnston will play at Rose State College.
Brennan also will compete in track and field for KSU, primarily focusing on the heptathlon.
“Their staff and their philosophy is really what I wanted,” Brennan said. “I think it will be the perfect fit. In soccer, they have some key players coming in. They expect me to take a key role on the defensive side.”
Johnston made an immediate impact on the Husky soccer team after transferring in from Midland, Texas.
Head soccer coach Meagan Anderson said Johnston will make a great addition for Rose State.
Hayli Hoffman chose to stay in Oklahoma instead of traveling north to Kansas to play college basketball. The three-year starter chose the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma over Southwestern College and Tabor College, both in Kansas.
“It just felt right,” Hoffman said. “It’s really close to home. Everyone can come watch me play.”
According to her next head coach, Darrick Matthews, Hoffman could see playing time immediately next season.
“Her toughness, her size, her ability to rebound and also her ability to step out and shoot the 3 is what really caught my eye,” Matthews said. “As of right now, I am projecting her to be able to come in and give us positive minutes immediately. She has a chance to get good minutes and eventually become a starter.”
Cole Ballinger signed his letter of intent to pitch for Cisco College in Texas. He likely will find a home in the starting rotation, but would welcome innings any way he can get them.
Ballinger hopes the community college experience will lead to becoming a Major League Baseball draft pick.
Edmond North Baseball Coach Karl King will miss Ballinger’s leadership in huge games as well as the state tournament.
“I’m very proud of Cole,” King said. “He’s been an integral part of our success. I’m proud of him and his hard work.”
Ashraf Mohamed’s success on the mats led him to sign with the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas.
“I’m very proud of him and his success,” said Andy Schneider, North’s head wrestling coach.
The Lady Huskies girls tennis program will hate to see the departure of Rylee Tucker, who signed with the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Tucker is the two-time defending state champion singles player in Class 6A and has a chance to win again before graduating this spring.
“Rylee has been a great asset to our tennis team the past four years,” said Dee Wallar, Edmond North girls tennis coach.
Tucker had several schools interested in her talents, but chose Nebraska after falling in love with the surroundings.
“I really like the environment there,” Tucker said. “Especially Omaha itself. And the coach has been amazing to work with.”