The wait was finally over, and Pinellas Park offensive lineman Eric Hampson took a seat at a table in the school’s media center Wednesday afternoon. With an unwavering hand, he took a ballpoint pen and signed a letter of intent with Old Dominion.
Friends and relatives were all there to watch Hampson make his college plans official. But the one person Hampson wanted to share this moment with was absent.
Hampson’s best friend, Corey Cozzi, enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Largo last year and still is stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
His family thought Cozzi would be able to attend, and planned on a surprise visit. But Cozzi was unable to come home. He could be deployed to Afghanistan within weeks.
Still, Cozzi was able to watch the signing via a live stream set up by his girlfriend.
The setup stunned Hampson.
“I had no idea this was going to happen until I sat down,” Hampson said. “I saw some computers being set up, and that’s when I started to think something was up. It’s pretty cool. Corey and I grew up across the street from one another, and he’s practically a brother to me. It was nice that he was able to see this.”
The family and Pinellas Park coach Kenny Crawford had to do some maneuvering to pull it off. The signing ceremony was scheduled for 1 p.m., but the feed was not set to go live until 1:25. Crawford did his best to delay the start for it to happen.
Two other players, offensive lineman Trevor Guy (Stetson) and defensive lineman Tyree Graves (Ohio) signed, as well.
“It was a pretty awesome thing they were able to do for Eric,” Crawford said. “But I thought it was an awesome event for all our guys.”