The ceremony was delayed for an hour waiting on a final decision, but once it got started it was all smiles as players posed for photos with friends and family.
Four South Dade football players Keshawn Washington, Jose Mirabal, Jonathan Denis, and Jaiden Francois signed letter of intents to respective colleges on the first day of the early signing period.
“It’s building,” said South Dade head coach Nate Hudson, who guided the Bucs to a 7-4 mark and their sixth playoff appearance in his eight seasons. “These four guys have been with us since the beginning and that’s real big. The coaches have been able to develop these young men and get them ready for life.”
With Washington, Mirabal, and Denis already announcing their decisions prior to signing day, all eyes were on Francois, who was down to Miami and Nebraska among his final schools.
Francois eventually announced his decision for Nebraska in front of a crowd of a few hundred in the school’s gym after delaying his announcement for an hour, leaving the gym to take phone calls and discuss the decision with family members and coaches. At one point his name placard was removed from the table and he was not expected to sign.
But Francois, who intercepted 16 passes while at South Dade, eventually returned as the ceremony was underway and when it was his time to take the microphone he made his announcement revealing a Nebraska shirt underneath a black dress shirt leaving a Miami hat on the table.
“It was a long stressful process, but I just followed by heart and it led me to make the decision I made today,” Francois said. “I had to do what was best for me and my family.”
Washington, Francois’s close friend and teammate in the secondary, is headed to Miami, where they both first committed on the same day in July 2018.
“It feels great,” Washington said. “I feel amazing. I’m happy. I’m ready to be at UM.”
As far as knowing Francois’s intentions beforehand, Washington had an idea.
“I slightly knew, but I was waiting on his options,” Washington said. “I’m happy for him though.”
Mirabal, an offensive lineman, is headed to FIU, which held off other schools to secure his signature.
“I’ve been locked in a for a while and they really treat me like family,” Mirabal said. “Other big schools recruited me along the way, but just the fact that this is home and we run the South right now beating Miami.”
Denis, an offensive lineman who has a close friendship with Mirabal, is headed to Oregon. The Ducks have had a great season going 11-2 and ranked seventh in the AP Poll before playing in the Rose Bowl.
“Really why I picked Oregon was because I want to develop as a person off the field as well as on the field,” Denis said. “I feel like that’s where I can really accomplish my goals.”
More Bucs are expected sign in February and in the spring.
“We got a lot of guys who are going to have opportunities,” Hudson said. “This is a huge day here at South Dade, but we want the party to just begin.”
Bretli Reyna Signs With Iowa
South Dade three-time state champion Bretli Reyna signed with Iowa.
“They’re very family-oriented and they just grind,” Reyna said. “They just love wrestling and they know they can out-work anybody nobody how good you are. It’s their passion, they love to out-work people.”
Southridge’s Belgrave Inks With Pitt
Southridge defensive end Emmanuel Belgrave signed with Pittsburgh.