Washington, Thomas sign at smaller-than-planned Natchez ceremony

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Things didn&8217;t go exactly according to plan for the Natchez High football program on Wednesday.

Five players from Natchez High&8217;s resurgent football program were expected to sign to play college football, but it ended up being just two signees from Natchez.

Safety SaMel Washington and offensive lineman Ramardo Thomas signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

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Wide receiver DeKeedrian Jackson, linebacker C.J. Wright and defensive back Broderick Jackson were not in school Wednesday because, as Bulldogs head coach Lance Reed put it, &8220;they got in some trouble.&8221;

&8220;I&8217;m very disappointed because we would have made history by having five players sign,&8221; Thomas said. &8220;That hasn&8217;t happened to Natchez High&8217;s football program in a long time.&8221;

Even though DeKeedrian Jackson and Broderick Jackson did not attend Natchez&8217;s signing ceremony at the David R. Steckler Multi-Purpose Building, Reed confirmed Wednesday night that both players signed with Co-Lin.

Even without their three teammates, Washington and Thomas enjoyed their time in the limelight.

Washington, the team&8217;s lone representative on the MHSAA Class 5A All-State team and who hoped to play Division I football at Ole Miss or Louisiana Tech but did not qualify academically, signed with the Wolves for several reasons.

&8220;I like the environment. I&8217;ll be able to go get my lessons. I&8217;ll be closer to home,&8221; he said.

Washington said he hopes to continue to play safety. He also said that playing at the junior college level for will help him prepare for playing Division I football.

Why did Thomas choose Co-Lin?

&8220;I like it because in the past they could find players who can play to their true potential and get them ready to play football in Division I,&8221; he said.

Thomas, who said he wants to play center, said he was impressed with new Wolves offensive line coach Carson Jeffers.

&8220;He seems like he&8217;s a real down-to-earth person,&8221; Thomas said. &8220;He&8217;s a good coach, and he tells you how it is.&8221;

&8220;(Jeffers) did a good job of contacting and coming to a lot of our games,&8221; Reed said. &8220;He developed a good relationship with a lot of our players and with our staff.&8221;

Co-Lin offensive lineman and former Natchez High standout J.D. Hamilton signed on to play for Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.

Hamilton, who played for the Wolves the last two years, chose the Bulldogs over Big East and Sugar Bowl champion West Virginia, TCU, Louisiana Tech and Texas A&M.;

In Jonesville, La., Block running back Johnnie Lee signed with Northwestern (La.) State on Wednesday morning.

Lee, who runs a 4.37 in the 40, chose the Demons over Arkansas State and former NSU head coach Steve Roberts.

Despite rushing for more than 1,200 yards in his senior season, Lee is expected to play defensive back or be used as a kick returned in college.

In Woodville, Wilkinson County wide receiver Cameron Russ signed Wednesday morning with Mississippi Valley State, picking the Delta Devils over Southern University and Southwest Mississippi Junior College.

&8220;They do a lot of passing. He feels like he&8217;s got a better chance of catching some passes. They throw 75 percent of the time up there,&8221; Wildcats head coach John Moore said. &8220;He visited there and he was impressed with (their coaching staff).

He&8217;s going to have to work his way up. Plus there&8217;s a lot of family ties. Several people in his family went there.&8221;

Port Gibson linebacker Zachary Brown also signed with Mississippi Valley State.

Offensive lineman Matthew Maiden IV signed with Alcorn State, picking the Braves over Southwest Mississippi Junior College, Jackson State, Southern and Grambling State.

&8220;He has a lot of family with ties to Alcorn,&8221; Moore said. &8220;He was looking for who had the best opportunity as far as a scholarship was concerned. It&8217;s closer to home. He always said the one that give him the best scholarship offer is who he was going to choose.&8221;