Three Panther football players inked their National Letters of Intent to continue their playing careers at the collegiate level in the fall.
Chris Dickert, Jonathon Rodgers and Jadon Bly were surrounded by family, friends and teammates inside the Midlothian High School media center Thursday, Feb. 8 to make the next step official.
Franklin Pierce University
An ACL tear ended the season early for Jonathan Rodgers, but it did not halt his dreams.
The 5-foot-11 defensive back signed his National Letter of Intent with Franklin Pierce University in rural Rindge, New Hampshire.
"The education there is amazing, and it also gives me the opportunity to play Division II football," Rodgers said. He also noted that he plans to major in education and hopes to one day return to Midlothian as a coach.
Rodgers, who said his favorite memory from this season was when the Panthers defeated Timberview in overtime, encourages younger players to "always stick to the plan and realize that there are people there to support you."
For Wendel, Rodgers is the epitome of a team player who "loves to win and is highly intelligent."
"He's a baller. He goes out there and just makes plays," Wendel said. "What I will miss about Jonathan is that he is a player of high character who always put his teammates first."
It was during that overtime win against Timberivew when Rodgers tore his ACL. Wendel recalled Jonathan hopping along after the victory, congratulating teammates with a huge smile.
"Even though it was a miserable night for him, he was happy for the team," Wendel said. "That is the kind of kid I will miss."
Oklahoma Baptist University
Though slowed by an injury his senior year, Jadon Bly will continue his football career at Oklahoma Baptist University.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound offensive lineman said he chose Oklahoma Baptist because he fell in love with the coaching staff, football philosophy and the campus "had a really good feel to it."
Bly also said he would miss the relationships he has made with his teammates and coaches in Midlothian. He recalled his favorite memory from the 2017 season was when his father pushed him in a wheelchair on the Panthers' senior night. Bly was sidelined with a lower-leg injury.
"We weren't going very fast, but we got there," said Bly with a laugh.
Midlothian head football coach Doug Wendel complimented Bly on his character and said he has "big upside, and in 2-3 years he could be a really special offensive lineman for them."
Wendel added that playing basketball early on really helped to develop Bly's hands and footwork.
"Has all of the skill set to really perform at a high level," Wendel said.
Chris Dickert humbly encouraged fellow Panthers to not "give up and if you have a dream go do it" after signing his NLI with Blinn College.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound offensive lineman said he will miss the team and coaches. He also recalled his favorite memory from his senior year was beating Lancaster.
"From the first day I got here, it was obvious Chris loved football," Wendel said. "His outlet and enjoyment is football. He never shied away from playing, and he never shied away from practice. He just loves football."
Wendel complimented Chris' growth in the weight room, on the field and in appreciating people.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith