Thursday, February 11, 2010
Byhalia players sign with ICC, Northeast
By BARRY BURLESON
Three Byhalia High School seniors signed football scholarships February 3 with junior colleges.
Labradford Rayford and Jeremy Sessom inked with Itawamba Community College in Fulton, while Tavaris Neal will play at the next level for the Northeast Tigers in Booneville.
Head coach Markeith Washington praised the three young men’s talents before classmates and teammates in the Byhalia gymnasium.
He said Rayford, a defensive back and running back, is “one of the most talented athletes in the building.”
“He’s super fast, and he loves to work out,” Washington said. “It’s untapped – I don’t believe he has realized yet how good he can be. I believe he will do well at Itawamba and move on.”
The coach said Sessom was a big leader for the team – “always here and always giving 110 percent.”
He played middle linebacker and running back for the Indians.
“I remember the first day I was here,” said Washington, who is in his second year at the school. “I remember watching him work out. He didn’t say a lot, but he worked.
“He’s a hard-hitter who contributed every single game.I guarantee you he will represent Byhalia High School well at Itawamba and beyond.”
Washington called Neal “one of the most-highly recruited players since I’ve been at Byhalia.”
He said he depended on the receiver (who also played free safety on defense) when he needed a touchdown.
“I hate to see him leave,” Washington said. “I knew when we threw it to him he was going to catch it.
“He’s a wonderful person on and off the field.”
All three athletes thanked their classmates, coaches, teachers, administrators and family members for their support.
They also urged everyone to come and see them play next season.
Rayford, Sessom and Neal were Coach Washington’s fourth, fifth and sixth signees in two years at Byhalia head football coach. Three also signed college scholarships a year ago.
“We’re rebuilding the program here,” he said, “and we want our main focus to be on getting our athletes to college. We want to do better. We have to put a lot more emphasis on ACT scores – starting early when they’re freshmen. We have to get them aware of what they need (academically) to go to college.”
Coach Washington said he expects even better recruiting classes the next few years.
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