Former coach makes surprise appearance at Seminole Ridge announcement
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
by Jeff Greer
Interim Seminole Ridge High football coach Justin Hilliker pulled out his cell phone mid-ceremony and called ex-Hawks coach Matt Dickmann, who recently started a new coaching job in Georgia.
"I was wondering if you'd say a few words over the speaker phone," Hilliker said to Dickmann as he motioned to Ridge's five signing seniors.
"How about I say it in person?" Dickmann shouted as he dramatically opened the auditorium doors to an unsuspecting crowd.
Players cried. Family members and fans cheered. It wasn't exactly how Dickmann, Hilliker and Seminole Ridge's former coaching staff imagined the biggest recruiting day in program history, but Wednesday's national signing day ceremony represented an hour's worth of redemption for a staff and program often criticized for not producing college talent.
Defensive tackle Kyle Shortridge (Louisville), linebacker Rayfield Dixon (Minnesota), defensive end Jason Shepherd (Bowling Green), cornerback Omar Pierre-Louis (Bowling Green) and running back Silas Spearman (FIU) each signed national letters of intent to play FBS football this fall.
Only one Ridge product before 2013 signed with an FBS program, though several others play at FCS or lower levels.
"You're always going to have critics," Dickmann said. "I'm just happy for these kids for getting what they deserve."
Dixon, wearing a white tie with white pants and shoes, a gold blazer and maroon shirt, called it a banner day for the school.
"Nobody thought Seminole Ridge could produce this many athletes," Dixon said. "We shut them all up."
Marks signs with Arkansas: A senior defensive tackle frustrated with his recruiting process, Suncoast's Ke'Tyrus Marks never gave another program a chance once Arkansas finally became the first big-time school to offer him a scholarship in January.
"I told my dad when I was 5 I wanted to play in the SEC," said the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Marks, who faxed Arkansas his signed letter of intent early Wednesday morning. "This is a dream come true."
Two sign from Gardens: Receiver Frank Brown (Bethune-Cookman) and offensive lineman James Cruise (FIU) signed their national letters of intent in front of a large auditorium crowd at Gardens High on Wednesday morning.
A late push from UMass did nothing to sway Brown from his commitment to Bethune, which was the only school seriously chasing Palm Beach County's top senior receiver.
Purdue adds Matt Burke: The Cardinal Newman tight end stuck with his verbal pledge to Purdue, signing his letter of intent Wednesday morning to join the Boilermakers' 2013 signing class. Burke, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound U.S. Army All-American, shut down his recruitment after his mid-January commitment.
Burke's classmate, running back Devonte Brown, signed with prominent Kansas junior-college program Coffeyville.
Dwyer's Harrow, Moxey sign: Dressed in a striking silver suit, Dwyer cornerback Jonathan Moxey surprised no one when he signed with Boise State on Wednesday. Linebacker teammate Hayden Harrow signed with the University of Chicago.
"I never thought in a million years Boise State would recruit me," said Moxey, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior. "They were on me from junior year."