As most students were enjoying the final month of summer vacation, Springfield High High School football coach Maurice Douglass looked around the bus as his team was preparing to leave for a seven-on-seven practice.
“Where’s he at?”
“He” was senior C.J. McDavid, who along with teammates Zack Breslin and Tavion Smith, committed to play college football during a signing day ceremony at the school on Wednesday afternoon.
»» RELATED: Dunbar OL extends area UC connection
McDavid had never participated in these summer sessions before and coaches were using the outing as a way to measure how serious he was about playing football.
“I look out across the parking lot and I see this body, just thumping on this bicycle and as he gets closer, I say, ‘That’s C.J. right there, in an all-out sweat,’ ” recalled Douglass.
McDavid, who rode to the high school from the south side of the city, remembers the morning well.
“I hadn’t planned a ride the night before … It was early in the morning … I woke up around 6 and no one really answered their phone, so I was like, ‘Man, just get peddling and get there as soon as I can.’ ”
»» RELATED: Springfield vs. Fairmont in playoff rematch
McDavid, who will play for Ashland University next season, had flipped his switch. In the past, Douglass believes he would not have shown up and found excuses not to make the effort to get to practice.
“When I saw him that day, riding that bicycle that day, I said, ‘He gets it now,’ ” Douglass said, “and I ended up taking him to get something to eat and I said, ‘You got it, you’ll go somewhere … You’re athletic enough, your test scores are pretty good and what they need. Just finish strong,’ and he ended up doing that.”
McDavid went from a sophomore who missed the 2016 season due to off-the-field issues, to a rotational player in 2017.
In his final high school season, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder earned second-team All-GWOC East recognition.
Breslin will stay in the region and play at Wilmington College, a decision the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder said will please his mother.
“She doesn’t want me to go far,” he said, jokingly. “She’s trying to move to Wilmington with me.”
»» RELATED: Springfield derailed at Northmont
Breslin also considered Urbana and Indiana Wesleyan.
Smith, a 6-3, 203-pounder who was first-team, All-GWOC East last season, signed with Central State.
He also considered Ohio Dominican and Wilmington, but he said the Marauders came in “at the last second.”
“I visited and fell in love,” he said.
With three linebackers committing to play college ball, the case could be made for Springfield to become “Linebacker High.”
Also in attendance was former linebacker and quarterback RaHeim Moss.
The senior didn’t sign a letter of intent, but Douglass expects last season’s quarterback to have his college decision settled this summer.
“RaHeim will probably be making his declaration, probably in the summer,” Douglass aid. “It looks like, if he does what he’s supposed to, he’ll end up going to, possibly, UC.”
This is the second straight year national signing day has piggybacked the early signing period for college football. Regardless, it was an admitted “great day” for Douglass, who now counts six players from the 2019 class who have signed to play football.
Defensive back Moses Douglass , the coach’s son, as well as defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson signed with Kentucky and receiver Michael Brown-Stephens with Minnesota, all in December.
Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.