More than three months after the three-ring circus hoopla of national signing day, 10 Plant football players announced their college futures.
For once Plant stars James Wilder Jr. and Phillip Ely were the ones in the seats of Plant's auditorium rooting on their lesser-known teammates on. Their highlight films were brief -- one was even non-existent -- but their triumphs equally as important.
They battled back from injuries, being undersized and fighting steep climbs up the depth chart to reach this day.
For some, the moment was more overwhelming than the fight. Take for example, linebacker Matt Suarez, who announced his commitment to Marian University while fighting back tears. Suarez suffered a compression fracture in his spine playing football as an eighth grader, leaving him in a brace for six months, to become one of the best defenders on a Plant team that went to the Class 5A state title game last fall.
"It's amazing," Suarez said. "I finally made it. This has been my dream. After everything I've been through, I've broke my (spine), I broke my leg. I've been through so much, that when it came my turn to speak, I kind of lost it."
Then there was Ronnie Singleton, who entered the season second on the depth chart at cornerback, but broke his leg early his senior season and literally didn't have a highlight film. He announced his commitment to Heidelberg University in Ohio on Wednesday.
"I never thought I'd get to go to college after breaking my leg," Singleton said.
Cornerback Eric Patterson (Ball State) was the lone Division I signee. Defensive lineman Wadensky Estimphile (Quincy), wing back Thornton Watson (Marian), tight end Tyrell Mills (Marian), running back Calvin Mann (Dean College) and defensive lineman Tupou Aleamotua (College of the Canyons) all announced their commitments while defensive lineman Devin Zinkosky (Florida State) and long-snapper Trevor Fowlow (Florida Atlantic) will walk on at those schools.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)