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#NationalSigningDay: Nine Longview athletes begin new chapter

By Hayden Henry
Feb. 4, 2016 at 1 a.m.

Keenan Madden, left, receives a hand shake from Mikey Thompson after signing a letter of intent to play football for Midwestern State University during national signing day, on Wednesday February 3, 2016, in the Turf Room at Longview High School. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

National Signing Day takes on a few different roles for athletes heading to the next level.

It's a day to celebrate with family, friends, teammates and coaches all the work it took to get this point.

But it's also a day to begin a new chapter.

"It doesn't stop here," Longview athletic director John King said. "You've got the opportunity and there's work to be done.

"We're proud of you for what you've accomplished and look forward to big things down the road."

Nine Longview athletes gathered to reflect and celebrate moving forward in their athletic careers on Wednesday during a special ceremony in the turf room at Longview High School.

A four-year standout on the court, Kaitlyn Adams signed to continue her volleyball career at Panola College.

"It's been a dream for me since I started playing volleyball to play in college," Adams said. "I would see all of these seniors as they signed and I just wanted to be on this side of the table and I'm blessed to be able to do so today."

Adams said it was a family aspect that drew her to Carthage, where she'll join Spring Hill standout Camie Copeland, who signed with Panola this past month.

LIST: Check out the full list of East Texas athletes who signed on National Signing Day.

"It's a family over there as it's been here for four years," Adams said. "All of the hard work, the jokes and everything we've accomplished are things I'll never forget."

Eight Lobo football players will continue their playing careers at the next level.

Throughout the 2015 season, featuring a large senior class, 'together' was a common theme for the Lobos.

"It's just a great day in that we've all grown up together over the past four years and worked to get to this point," Zach Gipson, who will continue his football career at East Texas Baptist University, said. "We couldn't have done this without each and it just makes me proud to see everyone in this room."

Keenan Madden was surrounded by his family as he committed to continue his career at Midwestern State University.

"It's a huge thing for my family to be here to see me take the next step from being a Lobo to a Mustang," Madden said. "It means to much to see my granny and pawpaw smiling so big today."

RELATED: Photos of East Texas athletes on National Signing Day.

Madden will get the chance to play in the Lone Star Conference against fellow defensive standout Kybrin Sheridan, who signed with Texas A&M-Commerce.

"It's really special to be apart of this day and signing with all of my teammates," Sheridan said. "It's something we'll always talk about and remember for the rest of our lives."

Bryson Davis will head to Henderson State University to join the Reddies, and after taking a visit to Arkadelphia, Ark., he knew it was the place for him.

"It's a great day for me and my family," Davis said. "The education really stood out to me. The athletic department is extremely hands-on when it comes to the classroom. It jus felt right.

"My first goal is to get bigger and stronger on the field and get a 4.0 in the classroom."

Following former Lobos Jordan Burton (Oklahoma State) and Colin Jeter (LSU), four Lobos will head to Kilgore College to continue their playing career.

Tim Clay, Landon Peeler, Braylynn Anthony and Jordan Wyatt will join the Rangers in the Southwest Junior College Football Conference this fall.

"It's special to follow the path that those guys took," Clay said. "I'm ready for the challenge of improving on the field and in the classroom.

"I'm ready to prove myself."

With a long history of spring-boarding players to the next level, King said Kilgore College was a great fit for all four.

"They're going to play in a very competitive league that produces players year-in and year-out," King said. "I'll say this about (KC head coach) JJ Eckert — he takes care of every kid that's come from Longview. Not that he doesn't do the same for others, but the success rate and places our kids have landed out of Kilgore speaks for itself."

As Wednesday marked the beginning of a new chapter, King ended his speech with 'Once a Lobo, always a Lobo.'

"It's a great honor to have these nine student athletes have an opportunity to continue their playing career," King said. "They got to this point by having the intangibles on the field and on the court, with the support of their families, their teammates and their coaching staffs. It's always a great day for all involved.

"And it's never really over because they, like every athlete to come through Longview, will always be a part of the Lobos."

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)

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