Six athletes from the Golden Circle signed letters of intent Wednesday on National Signing Day, including five football players and Corsicana pole vaulter Noah Gilfillan, the top-ranked pole vaulter in the nation, and four CHS football players.
Corsicana had a ceremony at the school’s Meeting Room in the Field House, where the five Tigers signed, and Mildred held a ceremony for Draylon Sterling, who signed a letter of intent to play football at Texas A&M at Commerce.
The Tigers saw four football players ink scholarships. Offensive lineman Chris Jones signed with UTEP, quarterback/cornerback Devontay Bell signed with Tarleton State, two-way lineman Donovan Hailey signed with Hardin-Simmons and receiver Hector Calvillo signed with East Texas Baptist University.
“We’re excited for all four of them,’’ said Corsicana Coach Steve Hoffman, who expects tight end Tiano McDonald to sign as early as next week. “They really worked hard and are all very deserving. They not only did a good job on the football field but also in the classroom. We’re proud of all of them.’’
Gilfillan is the biggest name and had the biggest drama. He had originally committed to Texas A&M, but changed his mind to become a Razorback at what is arguably the top track & field program in the nation.
“I felt it was the right decision for me Gilfillan said. “I think I have a better chance to further my career at Arkansas.’’
Gilfillan, who has the equivalent of a 4.0 GPA, plans on majoring in engineering. He is the No. 1 rated pole vaulter in the nation and has cleared 17 feet and one inch. Corsicana’s first track & field meet is Feb. 20 at the Hawk Relays in Red Oak.
It was an emotional day for Bell, who missed most of his junior season with a torn ACL. There were times during his long recovery when he didn’t think this day would come.
“I had my doubts at times,’’ said Bell, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and threw for more than 600 and was the All-Golden Circle Offensive Player of the Year. “I doubted it a lot when I was recovering. I didn’t know if this day would come. It’s such a great day. It feels like Christmas to me.’’
His comeback this season was inspiring.
“There were a lot of people who showed a lot of interest in him, and a lot that came in late,’’ Hoffman said. “He is gifted in so many ways. I believe he could really excel as a defensive back. Playing cornerback, he can really be special. They may use him there or as a slot receiver. He is just so talented. I think he will succeed wherever the put him. He’s a special player.’’
There were seven D-II schools that showed interest in Bell.
“A lot of schools came in late, over the last month and to the last minute,’’ said Bell, who wore a purple Tarleton shirt and matching cap. “But Tarleton was it for me. That’s where it felt right.’’
Bell, who plans on majoring in kinesiology, was recruited as an athlete and he said it didn’t matter.
“I will play wherever they want me to play.’’