By Matt Wiley & Gary Nager

If choosing the right college can be a tough decision for any high school student, choosing the right college that has offered you a full scholarship to participate in a sport at that school must be mind-boggling.

Nonetheless, on February 6, better known as “National Signing Day,” several New Tampa student athletes made their choices and put their names on the paper.

Students at Freedom and Wharton High, as well as at the private Carrollwood Day School (CDS) south and west of our area signed letters of intent to take part in everything from track & field to football, at schools from as far away as Georgetown University in Washington, DC, to as close as the Tampa campus of the University of South Florida.

Perhaps the biggest local signing was when Wharton’s Vernon Hargreaves III — one of the top five football recruits in the U.S., according to ESPN,  and most recruiting websites — signed his letter of intent to become a University of Florida Gator in Gainesville. The 5-11, 190-lb. Hargreaves, who runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, is one of the top cornerbacks coming out of high school this year.

Also signing from Wharton were three soccer players — Ashni Deschenes (17 goals, 4 assists), who will play at Stetson University in DeLand; Leah Chisolm-Allison (10 goals, 9 assists), who will play for Eckerd College in St. Petersburg; and Maria Areiza, who signed with Mississippi Valley State in Itta Bena. MS.


Woodard & Five Other Freedom Athletes Sign, Too

Family and friends packed the Freedom High cafeteria to watch their fellow students don the hats of the colleges they will attend.

“I’m really excited, not just for me, but for everyone signing today across the country,” said Freedom senior Faith Woodard, who signed to play basketball at Georgetown, a prestigious Ivy League-caliber school in our nation’s capital with a rich basketball tradition. “I was so happy when I got the call from them. They offered me a full scholarship.”

With her 6’-2” size, 22-pts.- and 9- rebounds-per-game averages for the State semifinalist Patriots (see next page), it’s no surprise Woodard is getting a chance to play in the always-tough Big East.

Freedom football safety Nate Godwin was just as happy about staying close to home at USF as Woodard was about heading to DC. “I’m excited to know I’m going…to play for Coach Taggart (USF’s new football coach). We’ve got a great recruiting class.”

Also signing from Freedom on National Signing Day were football players Isaac Tanner, who will play at Western Kentucky Univ. in Bowling Green; Cody Coffin, who signed with Webber International Univ. in Babson Park, FL; and Richard Bisaccia (the son of former Tampa Bay Bucs asst. head coach & special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia), who will play at Middle Tennessee State Univ. in Murfreesboro. State high jump champ Sandra Akachukwu will join Tanner at Western Ky. on a track scholarship.

A few miles to the southeast, Carrollwood Day School’s student body gathered in the auditorium to watch Hillsborough County’s all-time rushing leader Robert Davis and QB/DB Vidal Woodruff sign to play at the University of Memphis and Bethel College in North Newton, KS, respectively.

Davis, finished his career at CDS with 5,576 rushing yards. He also set the county’s single-season rushing yards record with an incredible 2,221 yards this past season. The 5’-8”, 170-lb. RB runs a 4.58 40 and plays bigger than his size indicates. Woodruff, 6’-3” and weighs 210 lbs., threw for 1,649 yards and 25 TDs.

Congratulations and good luck to all of these National Signing Day athletes!

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