National Signing Day turns a dreary Wednesday into a celebration at MLK High , Feb. 5
The story: On an icy mid-week morning, the mood inside MLK High’s gymnasium was jubliant as family, friends and coaches gathered to watch nine graduating football players sign letters of intent to continue playing in college.
Adding another layer of celebration was the fact that 2013 Public League Champions jackets were distributed to players for the first time in the Stenton Avenue school’s history.
The players who formally committed to colleges were Brendan Jackson (Cheney University); Savon Hinton and Darius Hurst-Rodney (Alderson Broaddus University, WV); Dontae Angus (West Virginia University); Damon Brinkley and Jordan Alexander (Shippensburg University); James Brewer (Lock Haven University); Delane Hart (University of Toledo) and Joseph Walker (University of Delaware).
What happened next: As with the MLK program, the graduates’ football careers remains works in progress — which is to say most everybody got redshirted (or had eligibility delayed for a year) as freshmen.
Among the redshirted players were Alexander, Angus, Brewer, Brinkley and Jackson. Hurst-Rodney played on Alderson Broaddus University’s junior-varsity team, a school which Hinton left during his first semester.
Hart didn’t end up signing a letter of intent with Toledo, choosing instead to go to Los Angeles Valley Junior College, where he was the leading wide receiver and is making an official visit to the University of New Mexico next month. (Former Cougar Frank Darden also went to LA Valley and is expected by locals to get some major recruiting interest as well.)
At the University of Delaware, Walker is now cleared to practice after some early eligibility concerns. He earned a 3.4 grade point average when all that was required was a 2.5 GPA.
National Signing Day sees several Imhotep Panthers commit to college programs, Feb. 6
The story: Bookending to a historic season that saw their team become the first-ever Philadelphia public high school to qualify for a state championship-football game, several Imhotep Institute Charter Panthers formally signed letters of intent to play in college next year and beyond.
The team’s standout defensive leader, DeAndre Scott, donned an Arizona State Sun Devils cap. He will be accompanied in Tempe by teammate Devin Crosby, a cornerback, who also committed to the Pac-12 school.
Aaron Ruff, the beefy offensive lineman, fulfilled a commitment he made a year ago and signed with the Temple Owls.
Among other players who signed on respective dotted lines were linebacker Steven Denby (West Chester University), lineman Taleem Muhammad (Alabama A&M), fullback Eddie Lynch (Tuskegee University), wide receiver Amir Johnson (Delaware Valley College), lineman Nadir Nettles (Stevenson University), Gordon Thomas (Temple University) and lineman Tyrone Barge (University of Rhode Island).
What happened next: While some of Panthers Head Coach Albie Crosby’s former players redshirted their freshman seasons, others saw playing time across all levels of college football.
Ruff, a former Imhotep captain, was redshirted for his freshman year in North Philadelphia. Denby, Gordon, Muhammad and Nettles were in the same situation at their schools of signing.
Scott saw playing time on an impressive Arizona State squad, as did Johnson at Delaware Valley College.
Devin Crosby transferred from Arizona State to Shippensburg, where he’s expected to play next season.
Muhammad was redshirted after transferring from Alabama A&M to Cheney.
Barge suffered an injury and will arrive at the University of Rhode Island in January, while Lynch attended East Stroudsburg University, where he is not playing football.
Imani Charter honors found on ‘Spirit Day’ despite potential closure, May 26
The story: In May, students and the school community at Germantown’s Imani Charter school celebrated spirit-day, also known as “Dr. Fulton Day,” an event held to celebrate school founder and principal, Francine Fulton.
This, in despite of the school’s impending closure.
What happened next: In November, the School Reform Commission voted 4-1 not to renew the charter for Imani Education Circle Charter School, one of the city’s oldest charter schools.
Young Philly football star’s transfer stirs bad blood between two schools, July 9
The story: All Dawayne Young wanted to do was transfer from George Washington to MLK High earlier this year. But the highly regarded football player learned that switching schools wasn’t going to be an easy proposition. In fact, when a dispute between the schools broke out, it put him at risk of not being able to play his senior season, thus missing out on the chance to impress collegiate-program recruiters.
What happened next: One month after the NewsWorks story ran, a five-member Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association appeals panel voted unanimously to let Young play football for MLK.
It didn’t take him very long at all to offer an unofficial committment to Temple University, which is located closer than either of the high schools he attended.
But who won the Washington vs. King game? A 28-14 win for MLK after which Young and Washington Head Coach Ron Cohen shared a happy moment as both teams made the playoffs.
As for the season, Young and the Cougars’ playoff run ended with a semifinals loss to Gratz.
If you have any Northwest Philadelphia stories from 2014 that you’d like NewsWorks to follow up on, please email us.