It was almost fitting their high school careers’ ended in the place most athletes begin their journey to success in the sport of football – the weight room.
As the family of Indians football players, coaches parents and administrators crowded the weight-training facility of Lumpkins Stadium on Wednesday, they watched five of their brothers take the next step in their careers.
The first Wednesday of February is typically slated as National Signing Day, the day the majority of potential college athletes commit themselves to a university or college’s athletics program, and educational institutions see thousands of athletes sign National Letters of Intent for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“A lot of people see the end result. Outsiders say they’re going to continue their career or education at this school or that school, but, a lot of times, they don’t see the work it takes (to get into college),” said Jon Kitna, the Indians head football coach and WISD boys athletic coordinator. “They don’t see the ups and downs, the teaching and the tears.”
Seniors Randon Haynes, Fredre McFadden, Jordan Kitna, Devan Brady and Ezekiel “Zeke” Derrough signed National Letters of Intent to five universities and colleges, hoping to make an impact in the next level of football.
Some, like Brady and McFadden, will stay close to home and attend colleges within just a few hours of Waxahachie, but others will journey away from the Lone Star State.
McFadden, Brady and Derrough signed with Austin College, Southern Nazarene University and Wayland Baptist College, and will start their careers anew when classes open in the fall.
“I’m building a bridge for my life,” Derrough said, a smile beaming across a toothy grin. “I’m not going to college to party, I’m going to college to be a man. Mama’s not going to be there to make sure I do my homework or make me go to class. I’m going to have to do it on my own.”
Derrough said the lessons of this season by Jon and the Indians staff were invaluable and only re-emphasized those ingrained in him by his grandmother Betty Derrough and mother Takeisha Flowers.
“My grandma told me once I sign this letter of intent, I’m signing to be a grown man,” he continued. “I’m there to become a man and not a little boy.”
Brady was drawn to Southern Nazarene for a different reason, one that resembled the environment he enjoyed as an Indian.
He said he heard Jon’s voice in that of Andy Lambert, the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm’s head football coach.
“He’s got the same message as coach Kitna, who I’ve known since seventh grade,” Brady said. “That familiar voice was comforting and he made me feel like that was the best place for me.”
Jordan and Haynes will return to places they know as well, if not better, than Waxahachie. For Haynes, a New Orleans native, it will be a homecoming for him and his parents.
“When I met with the coaches, I felt the same thing I felt here — a brotherhood,” Haynes said. “The decision to move back to Louisiana had a little to do with my family. I know my parents want to come to my games and know they wanted to move back down there.”
It’s not surprising his larger-than-life persona wasn’t able to contain his happiness. By making the move to Lafayette, he puts himself in shouting distance of his favorite childhood team, the Louisiana State University Tigers.
While Haynes will play his aggressive style of football for the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns more than 400 miles northeast of Lumpkins Stadium, Jordan will start his journey on the practice squad of the current Big Ten champion Michigan State University Spartans.
The state of Michigan and its main city aren’t foreign to Jordan, either. His father Jon played two seasons for the Detroit Lions, a stone’s throw away from East Lansing Michigan and Spartan Stadium.
“I visited there this past weekend and loved the culture and the way coach (Mark) Dantonio built the program there,” Jordan said. “I really feel a place I can really call home. It’s a place I can grow my faith, not only on the football field but spiritually as well.”
Follow Khris on Twitter at Khris5MarionWNI for team updates and contact the sports desk of the Midlothian Mirror with story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1454 or at email@example.com