BY ALEX GRUBERMAN WEEKLY REPORTER
O’FALLON – National Signing Day is the first day that a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football with a school. It is an exciting day for high school athletes because it is the next step of their future. For some students, they know where they want to go when they are freshmen; for others, it may be harder where to go. For the seniors on the O’Fallon Panthers football squad today is a big day in their life.
Head Football Coach Brandon Joggerst introduced each individual player and praised each one about their skills on the field and their work in the classroom.
“We stress to our players that they should achieve excellence in the classroom and on the field. These players have proved they can do that from their freshmen year all the way up to now” Joggerst said to the crowd.
First up was running back Mason Hewitt. Hewitt finished the season with 1,742 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry. His longest run of the season was a 56 yarder. Hewitt had seven games with 100+ rushing yards. Overall Hewitt finished his Panther career with 2,037 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, and a total of 16 touchdowns. Mason will take his rushing abilities to Truman State after he graduates.
Next up was defensive lineman Brian Ahle. Brian played in all ten games this season for the Panthers and finished his senior season with five sacks, 62 total tackles, 51 of them being solo tackles. He averaged 6.2 tackles per game. Ahle went back and forth playing defensive end and guard this season. Ahle will be heading to McKendree University after high school and will continue to play football for the Bearcats.
Malik Giddens will also be heading to McKendree University after he graduates OTHS. Giddens was an offensive lineman for the Panthers. He shifted around positions quite a bit this season playing the guard position, playing center for a few games, and tackle position too. As an offensive lineman, no stats are kept, but they are very important to helping their quarterback stay upright and help create a hole for their running back.
Deion Norfleet will also be joining Malik Giddens and Brian Ahle at McKendree University. Norfleet was a defensive back for the Panthers, but also was used on offensive plays too. Norfleet joined the team his junior year where he scored his only receiving touchdown. Norfleet was known for his defensive skills. He had 30 total tackles in his two seasons for O’Fallon and added an interception and a fumble recovery to his defensive resume.
Montrail Clay will be heading to Quincy University after graduation. Clay was a wide receiver and a corner back for the Panthers. He finished his two years with the Panthers with a total of 46 tackles, 15 assisted tackles, and a total of 61 tackles. He also had two sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery.
Robert Gonzalez was a corner back and a wide receiver for the Panthers. Gonzalez had 24 solo tackles and 31 total tackles. He had an interception and a fumble recovery this season too. Gonzalez will be going to the Colorado School of Mines after graduation.
Alvin Harris was the last player to be congratulated on his signing. Harris will go to Rockford University after graduation. Harris was a defensive lineman playing tackle, guard, and a center. Harris had a total of 21 tackles, 13 of them being solo tackles. He averaged 2.6 tackles per game.
Tight end Jarvus Smith and wide receiver Darryl Cobb Jr. are also looking at colleges for the future. Smith is looking at McKendree University, Kentucky State, and Robert Morris. Cobb is undecided, but still has plenty of time to look for the perfect college that fits his style.
These nine players will make 96 former Panthers continuing their football career in the past ten seasons.