RHS track and field trio sign with colleges

By T. Scott Boatright

In a sometimes suspenseful ceremony held at the Ruston High School auditorium Thursday afternoon, the RHS track and field team had three student athletes sign to continue their competitive careers on the collegiate level.

Triple jumper Brandon “BJ” Green, sprinter Jada Williams and heptathlete Bryanna Craig each announced the colleges of their choice, with a little flair and drama mixed in to add to the excitement.

Green made the most of his announcement, pulling four protective facemasks with school logos printed on them from a knapsack and placing them on a table before standing up and unzipping his warm-up jacket to reveal the University of Oklahoma T-shirt he was wearing.

“It’s been a long journey,” Green, who originally committed to LSU last summer before announcing in September that he had reopened his recruiting, told the large audience assembled to hear the announcements. “I’ve been on several visits and started with 18 offers before narrowing it down to a few. It’s been a long, stressful process. But the decision has been made and for the next four years I will be taking my talents to ….”

Green then proceeded to start pulling out the facemasks, starting with North Carolina A&M, followed by Wisconsin and Texas Christian.

He then pulled out the last facemask, briefly put it on before taking it off, standing up and unzipping his jacket.

“For the next four years I’ll be taking my talents to  the University of Oklahoma,” Green then said

Green is the nation’s No. 1 triple jumper, earning three individual state titles in that event along with helping RHS win a Class 5A championship in the 400-meter team relay.

Boasting a 4.5 GPA, Green said he plans to major in electrical engineering at OU.

“Oklahoma had a great environment and the visit was a great experience,” Green said. “I like the culture that they’re building and the coaches are great. After my visit there two weeks ago, I knew that was where I was going to go.”

Williams, who signed with TCU, is a seven-time state champion with both indoor and outdoor titles in the 400m, 800m relay and the 1600m relay and owns RHS school records in the 400m (which she set as a freshman, then broke and reset as a sophomore before doing so again as a junior), 800m relay and the 1,600m relay.

“Jada is one of the most decorated athletes to ever grace the halls of Ruston High,” said RHS head track and field coach Allen Whitaker. “She’s something special.”

Williams will be coached in college by TCU assistant Shawn Jackson, a former LA Tech assistant who is the father of current RHS assistant coach Jackson.

“It’s a good school with a nice environment,” Williams said. “It seems like the right place for me and a school that can help take me to the Olympics, which is my ultimate goal.

Another bit of a surprise for some was the signing of Craig, a newcomer to RHS.

Craig, a transfer student from Texas, signed with Louisiana Tech, where her father is in his first-year as an assistant coach under Tech head track and field coach Gary Stanley.

She won the 2019 national scholastic heptathlon title for New Jersey’s Millville High School, where she won the 2019 national scholastic heptathlon title before competing last year for Colorado High School in Colorado City, Texas.

“Bryanna is the No. 1 heptathlete in the United States,” Whitaker said. “She’s the 34th best recruit in the country and has won state championships in Texas and New Jersey and is looking to be one of if not the first to win state championships in three different states. She will be a great addition to the Ruston track and field program. We inherited a great one — we got lucky, so we’ll see how the season goes.”

Craig said she has also competed in the 200m run, 800m relay 1600m relay, high jump and long jump.

“Actually, there was no pressure to sign with LA Tech and I did look at other schools,” Craig said. “We didn’t take any other visits though, because I knew that I only wanted my dad to coach me.”

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