Jireh Craig cannot be sure of what the future holds, but he is excited to find out.
The Copperas Cove senior took part in a joint signing ceremony Wednesday morning at Bulldawg Gymnasium, symbolically concluding his high school career by inking a letter of intent to play football collegiately at Howard Payne University.
After putting pen to paper, Craig admitted he is apprehensive about leaving the comforts of home and walking into the unknown.
“It is very nerve-wracking,” he said. “You really don’t know what is going to happen in the future – no matter what you do. You can plan all you want and do all this stuff to help, but you really don’t know what is going to happen.
“But I’m pushing forward. I’m all in.”
And he will not be alone.
Teammate Danarius Brisbon also committed to play for the Yellow Jackets and, like his good friend Craig, he is prepared to take the next step in life.
“It feels good,” Brisbon said. “It is about time to improve my skills and take my game to the next level.”
The two played multiple positions for the Bulldawgs’ defense during their senior seasons with Craig delivering 30 solo tackles, including 11 for a loss and a pair of sacks, while Brisbon finished the year with 35 total tackles.
More importantly, they helped Copperas Cove reach the postseason for a 10th consecutive season, along with teammate Bashshar Saunders, who committed to play for Texas Lutheran.
The cornerback improved tremendously during his short tenure with the program after arriving from Philadelphia prior to his junior season, according to Bulldawgs defensive coordinator Reb Brock. Although Saunders spent only two years at Copperas Cove, the time was unforgettable.
“There is so much stuff that happened,” he said. “I couldn’t really put my finger on one moment. It was just the whole experience.”
Lady Bulldawgs volleyball standout Bryaunea Hall and swimmer Tyler King also took part in the morning signing ceremony, committing to Incarnate Word and McMurry, respectively.
Hall is coming off an impressive senior campaign, finishing second on the team in kills (415) and blocks (186), while helping Copperas Cove earn consecutive District 8-5A championships and produce the first 40-win season in school history. Her efforts garnered the distinction of being the 2013 all-district most valuable hitter and landed her a spot on the Texas Sports Writers Association’s All-State Team.
Despite having several options, Hall has no doubt she made the right choice.
“I had a lot of positives about a lot of the places I was visiting,” she said. “But when I made it to San Antonio, I was just like, ‘This is for me! This is for me!’ I knew that was where I wanted to be at. I just felt more comfortable there.”
King has similar feelings regarding making his choice to compete for the War Hawks.
After reaching the regional finals as part of Copperas Cove’s 200- and 400-meter free relay teams earlier this year, setting a school record in the 400 free relay in the process, King is certain McMurry is where he belongs.
“This is amazing, and I’m blessed to be where I’m at,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity. … I know people there, the coach is great, and she gave me the chance I needed.”
Regardless of where each athlete is heading, Copperas Cove ISD Deputy Superintendent of Operations and Support Rick Kirkpatrick, who was on hand for the ceremony, is excited sports is able to help them achieve an even greater goal.
“They have a chance to go to the next level and get an education,” he said. “That is the most important thing. Playing football, playing volleyball, swimming, that’s all great, but the most important thing is to get an education because that is their ticket throughout your life.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org