Coast athletes take next steps on Early Signing Day

Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:02 PM CST
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Early Signing Day saw student athletes from across the Coast sign on to continue their athletic and academic careers.

The day started off in Pascagoula, as a pair of Panthers in Isaiah Benn and Joshua Battles put pen to paper with Southwest and Pearl River respectively.

“It means a lot. Earlier in the year my Grandad passed, I wanted to give up, but I pushed myself,” Benn said.

“I didn’t want to go to college at first but with God, my Mom, my Dad, parents, family, I just decided to go,” Battles said. “I thought it would be a better lifestyle for me.”

From there, we head over to Moss Point as four-star athlete Jamarious Brown became the latest Tiger to join Lane Kiffin’s squad in Oxford.

“It’s just like family man. When you get up there it feels like home,” said Brown. “I just listened to my coaches and they guided me where I needed to be.”

Staying in the SEC and over at Ocean Springs, two-time 6A Mr. Football Bray Hubbard made his commitment official as he signed on to join Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“It’s definitely a great opportunity to get to play at the University of Alabama. Not everybody gets to do it. It’s very hard. It takes a different mindset of people to play for the University of Alabama. I’m taking it all in,” Hubbard said. “I’m here but it’s a job now. It gets real now. When I step foot on campus January 8, it gets real. It’s here.”

Ocean Springs also sent some baseball players on to the next level in McCarty English, who signed on with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Tanner Beaugez, who signed with Holmes Community College, and Brock Cantrell, who is joining the Pearl River Wildcats.

“When I was younger I was always a smaller guy, it was always like am I going to play college baseball? Am I going to grow? I put the work in and now I’m here,” Beaugez said. “I’m happy to be here.”

“It’s everything to me because I’ve always dreamed as a little kid, I’ve wanted to go far in baseball and make it to the MLB one day,” Cantrell said. “This is just a step toward it. It’s amazing.”

“I’m so excited. There’s literally no words to explain it. I’m ready to get up there and get to know the people,” English said. “It’s really special to be able to do this with them. I’m ready to see how far we all get to go. I’m looking forward to it.”

To cap off the afternoon, the back-to-back 5A State Champion Maroon Tide sent two to the next level: defensive tackle Zavion Coleman, as he heads to Lafayette to join the Ragin’ Cajuns, and 5A Mr. Football Dante Dowdell as he completes his commitment to join the Oregon Ducks.

“They have a great running backs coach and a good opportunity to play. A lot of people want to stay home,” said Dowdell. “But I’ve talked to a few people who’ve been in the league and been different places but they say going away from home is one of the best things you can do.”

With the early signing period wrapping up, all eyes now turn to February 1 when even more will sign on the official National Signing Day.

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