By T. Scott Boatright
Three Ruston High School seniors announced their choices as to where they’ll continue their athletic careers on the collegiate level Wednesday at the RHS Auditorium.
Girls basketball players Kiona McAllister signed a scholarship with South Alabama while football offensive linemen Bernard Johnson and Micah Scheer announced they will join local universities as preferred walk-ons, with Johnson, a left tackle, heading to Grambling State and Scheer, a guard/center moving on to Louisiana Tech.
“Anytime kids have a chance to move on and play the game they love at the next level – there’s a lot of things that go into that,” Baugh said. “It means they’ve done a lot of hard work physically and as far as academically, they’ve given themselves that opportunity. As athletic director at Ruston High School, I am very proud they have that opportunity.
“It’s not just that one person. It’s what they’ve been able to accomplish as a team, and they’ve been able to accomplish in classrooms. It’s taken a lot of teachers, a lot of counselors – there’s a lot of people involved in kids getting the opportunity to be able to move along to college. It’s also a tribute to their families for raising them in a way to make this happen.”
McAllister, a 6-0 post player, said her visit to West Alabama convinced her it was the right place to be.
“They had a great family environment,” said McAllister, who said she intends to major in accounting. “The coaches made me feel at home and they also have great facilities — that helped in my decision.”
McAllister said she’ll continue playing in the post on the college level.
“Because I’m more of a 4/5, they plan to use me to replace what they’ve lost there because of my defense and rebounds,” McAllister said.
She also said it felt good to get the recruiting process over with and concentrate on school and athletes as she wraps up her high school career.
“It feels great because the recruiting process can be very stressful,” McAllister said. “But after you’ve made that decision, it feels great to get that weight off of your shoulders.”
Johnson, who was recruited by new GSU offensive line coach Scott, said he’s excited to play under the Tigers’ new football staff.
“It feels good to get a chance to play on the next level with Coach Hue Jackson,” Johnson said. “It’s an exciting time for Grambling football and I’m proud to be part of it.”
Johnson added that he’s happy for the chance to continue his football career locally.
“All my family and friends can come because they’re right around the area,” Johnson said. “That’s a big part of why I’m so happy about it all.”
Like Johnson, being able to play in his hometown was a big part of Tech’s appeal for him.
“It’s close to home – I’m not ready to leave yet,” said Scheer, who was recruited by new Tech offensive line coach Nate Young. “They’ve got a good program and a good atmosphere. My mom and dad are alumni, my sister’s at Tech right now, and they pretty much told me I could be a game changer in the next few years.”
Joining a program under a new coaching staff headed by Sonny Cumbie is also a plus for Scheer.
“It makes it exciting,” said Scheer, who added he plans to major in instrumentation engineering or business. “I think they’re going to be a really good program and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Baugh said having two players join local programs is something he, his staff and the faculty and staff at RHS is thrilled about.
“I think it’s pretty neat for us as a coaching staff to be able to stay here in town and watch these guys play,” Baugh said. “It’s good for kids to get an opportunity at schools far off, too, but as coaches we don’t often get an opportunity to go watch them in person instead of on TV, so that’s nice.
“And I also think it says a lot about the in-town universities recruiting our guys. I think that’s a very good thing and shows what a relationship that we have with the new coaches that they have there at those two places. As far as the kids are concerned, I don’t think they realize the changeover that happens whenever you get recruited and then there’s a changeover in the coaching staff. Does the recruiting continue, or does it not continue? So being able to have a good relationship early on with those new guys at those two places is really good.”
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