PLANT CITY — Fourteen athletes — part of the biggest signing class in Plant City High School history —sat on the stage in the school's auditorium for the signing day ceremony Wednesday morning, each representing their future school in some way.
Jyquis Thomas, a cornerback who signed his letter of intent to attend Temple, sported a cherry and white hat and a tie with the Owls logo scattered across it. But the most noticeable thing he wore that morning was the proud grin that stretched across his face.
"It's a big day," Thomas said after the ceremony. "This is what you dream about as a kid, and it's finally coming true."
Thomas was one of nine Raider football players to sign letters of intent Wednesday, part of a class that included four-star offensive lineman and Alabama signee Montel McBride. McBride wasn't in attendance at the ceremony, as he is in Arlington, Texas, preparing to take part in the International Bowl.
Most of the 14 stepped up to the podium to say a few words to the large crowd. Some were surprised when they were asked to speak, others paused, searching for the words to say.
When it was Thomas' turn, he knew just who he wanted to address.
Several rows back sat Katura Jackson, Thomas' mother who raised him as a single parent. She rose and cheered for her son when he was announced to the crowd, and Thomas was quick to thank his "beautiful mother" in his short speech.
After the ceremony, Jackson couldn't hold back tears.
"He's had trials and tribulations, and i've always supported him through those," she said. "I've always pushed him to be the best he can be and have never expected anything less…He's already a success, he's just going to be a bigger success.
Plant City signees:
Montel McBride, football (OL), Alabama
Landon Galloway, football (QB), U.S. Air Force Academy
Quincy Robinson, football (OL), Butte College
Rayquan Johnson, football (WR), preferred walk on at FAMU
John Broome, football (DE), Florida International University
Hassan Bailey, football (DB), Marist College
Sedrick King, football (DE), Nebraska
Austin Fernandez, football (LB), Ridgewater College
Dylan Johnson, football (LB), Southeastern
Jyquis Thomas, football (DB), Temple
Alex Arnold, volleyball, Aurora University
Kellyanne Hurst, golf, U.S. Naval Academy
Kacie Booth, softball, Polk State
Emma Mitchell, soccer, Southeastern
Diana Corzine, soccer, Trevecca University