Springfield celebrates college-bound football players

Maurice Douglass loves to celebrate his Springfield football players, especially this time of year. He organizes a ceremony on February signing day for the players who will play in college from Division I to Division III.

On Wednesday, eight Wildcats made their college destinations official. And Douglass remembers what it was like to be on his way to an obscure place. He left Trotwood-Madison with teammate Tony Cospy for Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. Douglass ended up at Kentucky and in the NFL for 11 seasons.

“When you come from junior college nobody really wants to take a junior college kid, but everybody needs to be celebrated,” Douglass said. “We’re going to Coffeyville, but we had just beaten Roth about a month and a half before and Keith (Byars) is signing to go to Ohio State.”

Running back Jayvin “Bay Bay” Norman was the lone Division I signee Wednesday when he chose Eastern Michigan. Previously, cornerback Aaron Scott signed with Ohio State and receiver Da’Shawn Martin signed with Kent State.

But most of Wednesday was players headed to other divisions of college football: defensive back Ty Myers and receiver Duncan Bradley III to NCAA Division II Thomas More, defensive back Jayvin Martin to NAIA Georgetown (Ky.), linebacker Bryce Washington to Division II Ohio Dominican, receiver Deveon Williams to Division III Defiance, and defensive linemen Christian Kern-Dubois and Pierson Baker to Wittenberg.

“It’s just a resilience on the field and in the classroom and their ability just to focus and make the main thing the main thing,” Douglass said. “We’re always talking about being where your feet are. That means in the classroom, it means on the field, it means when you’re out walking.

“Sometimes people see you on the football field, but they don’t see you off the football field. And a lot of our guys have made good decisions, and that’s what this is a reflection of. Because you’re not going to school if you’re not making good decisions.”

Norman was leaning toward Ball State, but a recent visit to Eastern Michigan changed his mind. His brother, former Wildcats linebacker Jaivian Norman, is a sophomore DB at Eastern.

“It was just more of a feeling of home,” Norman said. “And me and Ball State really didn’t talk that often. I want to go somewhere I really wanted to be.”

Norman played in two quarterback-dominated offenses before this year. This year, with young and injured quarterbacks, the Wildcats leaned more on the run game. Norman (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) took advantage with 1,370 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes, which will help him get on the field in college as a slot running back and kick returner.

“Always growing up it was just about size, and I never really looked into the size thing,” Norman said. “In college, of course, you’re going to get bigger, you’re going to get faster. So it matters about heart. Whoever has the biggest heart, whoever wants it more, that’s all that matters.”

As family members and friends milled around the gym taking pictures and hugging each other, Norman reflected on his teammates who were looking just as forward to college football as he is.

“I’m super proud of them,” he said. “The work that they put in and things that they go through ... there’s so much that kids go through on our team, that no one will know about but them and Coach Doug. So as brothers, you got to come together and just make sure your brother’s OK. Even after high school, you notice this is more than just football. This is a brotherhood.”

About the Author