The five Temple senior football players who signed with colleges Wednesday had numerous differences in their individual circumstances.
Offensive tackle Darius Joiner fulfilled his long-standing verbal commitment to Houston, where he’ll switch to defensive line.
Productive linebacker Dominick Thompson, perhaps overlooked because of less-than-ideal height, found what Wildcats coach Mike Spradlin called a “perfect” home with NCAA Division II Tarleton State in Stephenville.
Cornerback Jamarkese Williams moved on after Colorado decided not to honor his verbal commitment, signing with an Incarnate Word program that’s joining the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision.
And defensive end James Judie and safety Ladarius Thomas went the junior college route, choosing to play for Navarro in Corsicana.
Although their situations vary, those five players who helped the 7-4 Wildcats share the District 8-5A championship and nearly defeat eventual state champion Cedar Hill in the playoffs now have a common bond — they’ve earned opportunities to continue their academic and athletic careers.
“They represent to me what stood out about the whole group. All of them were tremendously hard workers and great leaders,” Spradlin said amid a festive gathering inside the football locker room. “We just had a chemistry this year. We’re pretty darn excited about this group.”
Said Joiner: “We all work hard to achieve everything we get. Everyone here is pretty much one family.”
Spradlin said guard Devontae Moore, receiver DeAngelo Bell and linebackers Michael Hicks and Deshaun Sellers likely will make college commitments soon.
Williams, a speedy cornerback at 6-3 and 185 pounds, thought he had his college future solidified late in the season when Colorado offered a scholarship and he accepted. But following Williams’ recruiting visit to the Boulder campus in December, Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre informed Spradlin and Williams that Colorado was rescinding its offer.
“That is low. I think it’s sorry. I’ve been doing this a long time . . . you just can’t do that to kids,” said Spradlin, a former college assistant coach at Houston. “I told (Colorado), ‘I’ll give you two weeks to make it right or I’ll tweet it out,’ so I did.
“They’re not welcome here. You can print that.”
Williams admitted he was surprised and disappointed Colorado reneged on its offer.
“It was surprising. They were like, ‘We really want you here,’” he said. “To pull something like that, it was a shame.”
However, Williams — who received late interest from Purdue and Indiana — is excited to head to San Antonio and join Incarnate Word, which is rising to compete in the FCS Southland Conference. A talented sprinter, Williams also plans to run track for the Cardinals.
“The players and coaches are really good people and I like the small feel (of the school),” he said.
Few high school linebackers can match the tackling prowess of Thompson, who used a relentless style of play to make 142 tackles as a senior after collecting 115 stops and second-team all-state honors in 2012.
But at 5-10 and 210 pounds, Thompson received limited recruiting interest from major colleges. However, he believes he’s entering an ideal situation with Tarleton State, whose Texans were 7-3 last season and could move from the Division II Lone Star Conference to the FCS level by 2015.
“Tarleton’s a good school, a good fit for me,” said Thompson, who spoke with Temple graduate and former Tarleton player Jamaal Steamer about the Texans’ program. “I really like the head coach. He’s going to push me and make me work.”
Said Spradlin: “I think it’s perfect. He can excel at that level. He can be a star and get a four-year education. It’s a great deal.”
Temple’s latest standout offensive tackle, the 6-5, 255-point Joiner played three seasons on the offensive line. But he was a defensive lineman as a freshman and likes the Houston coaches’ plan to use him on defense for the Cougars of the American Athletic Conference.
“I love the school, love everything about it,” Joiner said.
Judie and Thomas plan to spend two seasons and three total semesters with Navarro’s traditionally strong Bulldogs before signing with Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
An imposing defender on the edge, the 6-5, 260-pound Judie has had discussions with Texas’ new coaches about signing with the Longhorns after two seasons at Navarro, where he’ll play alongside teammate and friend Thomas.
“It’s a good thing,” Judie said. “When I meet new people, I’ll have somebody to meet them with.”
After moving from receiver to safety midway during his junior season, Thomas will have another new position in junior college: cornerback.
“It’s going to be a new experience,” he said, “but I learned how to play safety, so I think I can learn how to play cornerback, too.”
Said Spradlin about Thomas: “He’s about as motivated as anybody I’ve seen.”