National Signing Day for high school football players begins Dec. 20, but that wasn’t early enough for Providence Day.
The school held a special ceremony to honor its four major college signees-to-be Friday. The players, who helped lead the Chargers to three straight Division I state championships, can’t officially sign until Dec. 20, but three of the four will be gone by then.
Next week, Chargers’ quarterback Jadyn Davis and receiver Channing Goodwin are leaving for Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they will join the No. 1 ranked Michigan Wolverines team and participate in practices ahead of the College Football Playoffs.
Chargers wide receiver Jordan Shipp will leave for Chapel Hill next week, but he’ll be back on Providence Day’s campus the week before Christmas — participating in practice with North Carolina before the Tar Heels play West Virginia in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Dec. 27 at Bank of America Stadium.
Brody Barnhardt, the Chargers’ all-state safety, will leave for Raleigh in January and join the N.C. State football team.
“It’s just a new day,” Providence Day coach Chad Grier said. “We’ve got to do things a little differently now.”
Six years ago, the NCAA added an early signing period for high school football players. Instead of waiting until the first week of February, players can sign in late December. In recent years, according to 247 Sports, most college programs are signing more than 80 percent of their recruiting classes in December.
With more and more high school stars enrolling in college in January, well before their senior year in high school would otherwise end, the early period allowed coaches to get their verbal commitments signed before the start of the new year.
Friday, the Providence Day quartet “signed” in front of family and classmates in the school’s auditorium, and Shipp and Davis were presented with their All-American Bowl jerseys. The All-American Bowl will be played in San Antonio in January and televised nationally by NBC Sports. It’s the nation’s top high school football all-star game.
Finally, Davis was presented a banner and a trophy for being the first repeat winner of the state’s biggest high school football award, Mr. Football. The award is sponsored by Deer Park Water.
Grier introduced the players, who then took the podium, one-by-one, thanking parents, family and friends. All four got emotional.
And so did their coach.
“It’s hard to keep it together,” Grier said. “I love those boys like they’re my own. They built this thing, or we built it on their backs. Those guys were the ring leaders in every way: academically, socially, in practice. And they were great warriors on Friday. They’re such great kids. I love them to death.”