FLORENCE — Wyatt Odom and Peyton Person will be walking across the stage at Stampede Stadium next week as a part of the Florence High Class of 2014. But they didn’t have to wait until then to have a shining moment on a stage.
Surrounded by friends, family, coaches and teammates, Odom and Person made their college commitments official during a signing ceremony Wednesday at the Florence High cafeteria.
“It feels really good,” Odom said. “Getting out of here, graduating, I’ve got a team to go play for. It feels like everything’s coming together.”
“It’s really exciting,” Person added. “I loved my time in Florence, but I’m definitely ready to go to Texas Lutheran and start on the next journey.”
Odom signed to play football at Howard Payne University and Person signed to play baseball for Texas Lutheran University.
Odom took the stage first wearing a blue HPU shirt with white lettering. The table was decorated with a purple Florence High tablecloth, a helmet and football along with a HPU banner hanging over the front.
“It feels pretty good because there’s a whole lot of work put into it, the investment of my time and everything,” Odom said. “Playing from sophomore year and getting moved up to varsity after three games, it’s pretty crazy that I could go play college ball.”
HPU is an NCAA Division III school based in Brownwood that competes in the American Southwest Conference. The Yellow Jackets were 4-6 last season, including a 2-4 ASC mark.
Odom played at quarterback, running back and defensive back for the Buffaloes last season and made some plays all around.
He finished the season with 119 yards on 42 carries and a rushing touchdown while catching three passes for 106 yards and had 18 solo tackles on defense. Two of Odom’s catches came in Florence’s 23-0 win over Thrall.
Odom said he chose HPU because of the institution’s Christian-centered academic environment and the fact that he already has friends attending the school.
“I showed up, the coaches were really friendly and it had that small town feel to it,” Odom said.
Person followed on the stage and signed with a baseball helmet, glove and baseballs on the stage to reflect his sport as younger athletes from Florence looked on before they headed to class.
“It was definitely kind of nerve-racking,” Person said about the signing. “I’m kind of the example that they’re looking up to.”
TLU is an NCAA Division III school based in Seguin that competes in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs went 27-17 last season, including an 11-7 SCAC mark and finished second after losing two conference tournament games to eventual champion Trinity.
Person was a co-captain for the Buffaloes this season and had an impressive final year with the team as a pitcher and shortstop.
Person led Florence in batting average (.494), hits (40), RBIs (20), extra-base hits (14), home runs (3) runs scored (26) and stolen bases (9).
He also held opponents to a .269 batting average while posting a 2.29 ERA. Person went 2-4 with 46 strikeouts in 11 appearances.
Person said he knew TLU was the right fit for him when he took a recruiting trip and saw Katt-Isbel Field for the first time. As a Florence pitcher, he is used to a wind blowing in from right field at home, much like it will at TLU.
“It was just like our field so I felt right at home,” Person said. “It was definitely it.”