February 1st was an important day in both high school and college athletics- national signing day. High schoolers who have been recruited have an opportunity to choose and announce where they are going to school, and colleges and their fans across the country can begin to see what they will add to the mix for the upcoming season. The Village News congratulates ten athletes from area schools who signed last week.
The L.C. Bird Skyhawks celebrated the signing of standout linebacker Deon Clarke to Virginia Tech.
Clarke, who is a 6’2 205 pound linebacker has been one of the most successful defensive players in L.C. Bird history. Clarke, who was heavily recruited chose Tech over Cincinnati, Miami, Tennessee and Virginia. Clarke was ranked by rivals.com as the #14 outside linebacker in the nation. He has one defensive player of the year award to his credit and was an All-Dominion District first team selection all four years at Bird.
The Skyhawks expect several other seniors from this year’s football team to sign, including running back Yahkee Johnson, who has been contacted by several schools, including West Virginia.
The Thomas Dale Knights had five players sign their letters on national signing day. Four came from one of the toughest defenses in the Central Region.
Safety Desmond Frye will attend Virginia Tech. He was a playmaker for the Knights all 2011 season long, with a great nose for the football and an uncanny ability to read offenses. Last season Frye registered over 100 tackles, a rare occurence for a defensive back.
Darius Spruill, a 6’2 225 pound middle linebacker will be suiting up for North Carolina Central next season. Initially a player who was played all over the field by Tucker and his coaching staff, Spruill settled in as linebacker and excelled, recording 91 tackles in 2011.
Lorenzo Fields, a cornerback will be attending Hampton University. A member of the 2009 championship team as a sophomore, Fields has earned a reputation for being perhaps the hardest worker on and off the field for the Knights.
Darius McKenney, a defensive back will be attending Chowan. Playing opposite Fields at the other cornerback position, teams would often try to pass in his direction. His great play was a big part of shutting down opposing team’s passing games for the Knights in 2011.
Dan Lauretano will also attend Virginia Tech. A midfielder and forward for the Knights, Lauretano was named Central District Player of the year last season. He has been a leader for a very successful soccer program over the past years as Thomas Dale has dominated the Central Region in soccer under head coach Mark Fowler.
For Matoaca, two athletes signed their letters of intent on signing day.
Nikki Pond, Matoaca’s goalie signed her national letter of intent to become a Michigan State Spartan. Head coach Erin Bell is proud of what Nikki brought to the program.
“Nikki has brought a tremendous talent and work ethic to us,” said Bell. “It’s been a joy to coach her.”
A two year captain, Pond helped guide the Warriors to 8-1-2 record and a Central District Tournament title by defeating Thomas Dale before the Warriors fell in regionals to Cosby. In 2011, Pond racked up 31 saves and allowed just seven goals.
Michael Birdsong, Matoaca’s standout quarterback has signed to play for James Madison next season. Head coach Pat Manuel called Birdsong a “college ready quarterback” in the preseason. Over the course of his high school career, Birdsong has been named First Team All-District, Central District Player of the year, and received second team all-regional honors. Birdsong finished the season with 2005 yards from scrimmage (250 rushing) and 25 touchdowns (six rushing).
Meadowbrook had two gridiron standouts sign letters of intent.
Troi Hughes, a defensive back will be attending Norfolk State University this fall.
“Our secondary was one of our strengths this year,” said head coach Troy Taylor. “Troi was our leader.”
Also signing was 6’3 270 pound offensive lineman Jaquante Saunders. He will be attending Georgia Military Junior College. Saunders, after a freshman season on the junior varsity squad, took a break and decided to come back to football and played very well his senior season.