Coach Maurice Douglass ended the signing day ceremony at Springfield High School with a promise to win a state championship ring in the future.
If the Wildcats can continue to produce the talent that sat on the stage Wednesday — three players who helped lead the program back to prominence in 2018 — no one will doubt the coach’s confidence.
» PHOTOS: Shots from the signing day ceremony
Moses Douglass, the coach’s son, and Isaiah Gibson made their decisions to attend the University of Kentucky official at the ceremony, though their actual signings took place that morning. Michael Brown-Stephens signed with the University of Minnesota.
None of the choices were a surprise. All three had previously verbally committed to the programs. This ceremony was more about celebrating the decisions and honoring the players, who won 25 games in their four seasons and made two playoff appearances.
“They’re ready to embark on the next chapter of their lives both as athletes and as scholars, and we couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Springfield Athletic Director Mike Dellapina. “It takes a lot to get to this point, where these gentlemen are today. People always ask, ‘What’s involved in the recruiting process?’ And the first thing about all that is you have to make yourself recruitable, and it’s not just about athletic ability. These young men all have great athletic ability. At the end of the day, it’s more about your character than anything else. They were accomplished in the classroom and accomplished on the field, but it’s what they did beyond that — outside the classroom and off the field — that really makes them a top recruit.”
Moses Douglass, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back, joins the program where his dad played in 1984 and 1985. Like Brown-Stephens, a 5-11, 180-pound wide receiver, Douglass plans to enroll in college in January. Gibson, a 6-4, 300-pound defensive tackle, hopes to do the same.
The process of graduating from high school early began long ago, coach Douglass said.
“They take their second-semester courses during the summer,” Douglass said. “They’ve done all those things. Isaiah just has to finish off a little bit of work. He should be able to get it done. You have to know coming into high school. I can usually tell if a dude’s going to have a little something extra and going to have an opportunity too play college ball. You have to start planning and adjusting the schedule. You have to have an idea of what you want to do.”
» PHOTOS: Springfield football through the years
Douglass said his son jumped at the chance to graduate early because he doesn’t run track in the spring or play basketball. It was a more difficult decision for Gibson, who threw the shot put and discus last spring for the track team, and Brown-Stephens, who plays basketball. All three will get to come home for prom and graduation, their coach said.
Brown-Stephens joins a program coming off a 6-6 season. The Golden Gophers play Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl on Dec. 26.
Kentucky (9-3) had its best season since 1984 and plays Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
“They had a good year,” Maurice Douglass said. “This ‘19 class is a good class. I think the best is still to come for these guys.”