By David Knox
The first “full-on” early signing period for college seniors Dec. 20-22 passed with several area high school football players signing.
Hewitt-Trussville’s Logan Pitts and Simon Miskelley signed with Tennessee-Chattanooga and Clay-Chalkville’s Derrick Bean signed with Arkansas State, becoming the first group of players to sign in the NCAA’s new signing period for seniors who normally would have signed in the February period.
The NCAA has long had this period for junior college and transfers. In that group, Hewitt-Trussville’s Jarrion Street transferred to UAB, and Clay-Chalkville’s Cole Baker of East Mississippi Community College signed with Ohio.
Beginning Dec. 20, prospective student-athletes were allowed to put pen to paper on their National Letters of Intent. The 72-hour window closed on Dec. 22, and the next opportunity to sign an NLI will be at any point between the first Wednesday in February (Feb. 7) and April 1.
Pitts, a wide receiver, was long orally committed to Chattanooga of the Southern Conference. He followed through on that commitment after a stellar season that saw him catch 49 passes for 978 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed once for 24 yards, giving him 1,002 total yards. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior projects as a tight end.
The two are members of a 13-player class so far for coach Tom Arth.
“Logan is a tight end out of Hewitt-Trussville in Alabama, an outstanding football program,” Arth said. “Logan has been an exceptional player for their team. We had the opportunity to meet Logan about this time last year when we offered him a scholarship.
“We all knew he had the ability to grow into something special and he certainly has. He is an incredible weapon on the offensive side of the ball. He’s athletic and runs routes like a wide receiver but also brings the physicality and violence at the second level as a tight end.
“Logan will create a lot of mismatch issues for other teams and we’re excited to find ways to utilize his skill set. They’ll be a lot of opportunities for our offense to get the ball in his hands.”
Miskelley led the Huskies with 127 total tackles in 2017, making 16 tackles for losses and recording one sack. He intercepted two passes, bringing one back for a touchdown, and blocked one kick.
“Simon is used to winning and understands how to compete,” Arth said. “His best trait is his football intelligence. You see such a smart player out on the field when he plays. He has great instincts and ability to get to the football.
“He has great ability to finish with violence on the ball carrier in the run game. He is also athletic enough to drop back in zone coverage and defend the pass game. He is a complete linebacker and we’re in the position we need to add depth. He will bring that and have great opportunities to compete on special teams right away, we’re excited to sign him.”
Bean joins the Red Wolves of the Sun Belt Conference. He helped the Cougars to an 11-3 record as a senior and an appearance in the Class 6A semifinals, making 59 tackles including 10 for losses. Ranked as a 3-star recruit by Rivals.com, 247Sports and Scout.com, 247Sports listed him as the No. 63 player in the state of Alabama. He also had offers from Memphis and Troy.
Baker, who will be a junior, joins the roster of the Ohio Bobcats of coach Frank Solich. This past season at EMCC, he helped the Lions to the NJCAA national championship. The 6-3, 275-pounder earned second team All-State honors. He had 42 tackles, four sacks and nine tackles for loss in 2017. That made him EMCC’s fifth-leading tackler. Baker was credited with nine tackles for loss (-37 yds), including four quarterback sacks (-25 yds), during the season.
Baker transferred to EMCC after playing his freshman season at Delta State University in 2016, where he was the team’s fifth-leading tackler on the year, making 43 total stops with nine tackles for loss (-24 yds), including 2.5 sacks for 16 yards, as a freshman.
Baker recorded 12.5 sacks at Clay-Chalkville as he helped lead the Cougars to a combined 29-1 record during his junior and senior seasons (2014-15).
Street played in six games as a freshman at Ole Miss with most of his action coming on special teams. He finished the season with three tackles, one of which was solo, against Wofford. As a sophomore, he recorded 10 total tackles on special teams.
A consensus 3-star prospect out of Hewitt-Trussville, Street was rated the No. 28 RB in the nation and second-best in Alabama by Rivals.com. During his senior season for the Huskies, he rushed for 1,400 yards and 16 TDs and hauled in 157 receiving yards and a TD en route to a 7A playoff appearance.
He was named All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers Association and the USA Today.
Several prospects are waiting for the “regular” signing period, including Pinson Valley’s LiAllen Dailey, a Louisville commitment, and Hewitt’s Elliott McElwain, an early Army commitment, who switched to Yale after the season, and Myles Mason, who is committed to Mississippi State.