“They all are disciplined and they’ve already put in that hard work,” Hicks said. “They know what they have to do to succeed. They had that structure in place and they thrived. I think the three of them, no matter where they go, no matter what they end up doing in life, they’re going to be successful."
It was a big day at Paetow on Thursday.
It was a day of celebration, and a day that three young men had been waiting for for their whole high school careers, as Daymion Sanford, Alex Kilgore and Justin Stevenson all signed to continue their careers at the Division I level, signing national letters of intents to play football in college.
For Sanford, it’s a move just 74 miles up the road, as he signed to play at Texas A&M, joining a class that is ranked in the top 15 in the country and completing what has been a lifelong dream for him.
“It’s a place I’ve always wanted to be,” Sanford said. “It’s close to home, they play in the strongest conference in college football in the SEC and then the coaches have been so good with me. I’m just excited to go play for them, work for the coaches and continue to get better. It’s just a blessing to be able to do this.”
Sanford had a tremendous high school career and kept it going even past his final high school game, as he showed out in the Army All-American bowl in December.
Sanford intercepted a pass in the game which he returned 28-yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, giving his team the lead in the game, he also made another great play in coverage, tipping a ball that his teammate, Jayden Davis intercepted. For his efforts, Sanford was named the most intense player of the game.
Sanford hopes to build on that experience as he prepares for his next step at College Station.
“It was just such a fun experience. I got to play against so many great, talented players and see what it was like to compete against the type of talent I’ll go against in college. It will just continue to prepare me for what I’ll need to do.”
Kilgore to continue career at SMU
Alex Kilgore was a leader throughout his entire time in high school.
The senior linebacker was always the first to show up and the last to leave, a voice for the team and coach on the field, add to that his high level of play and it was easy to see why he was such a sought after recruit.
In the end, it was SMU that Kilgore chose to sign with, as he celebrated signing with the Mustangs on Thursday in front of family, friends and classmates.
But while it’s a day of celebration for Kilgore, his work is just starting.
“It’s everything I have worked towards, but now you have to turn your eyes to the next goal,” Kilgore said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity they’ve given me, but I’m not done and I’m not satisfied just by having this opportunity. Now I have to go maximize it and that’s what I’m going to do, keep working every day and pushing myself.”
Kilgore was instrumental this year and his presence was felt by all of his teammates and coaches. He was sought by many programs and Paetow head coach David Hicks Sr. knows how special of a player he will continue to be.
“He is the epitome of what we want people to be in our program,” Hicks said. “He’s what embodies a Panther. He’s a great kid, he’s the hardest working kid you’ll ever see and he is always asking the right questions. He speaks up when he needs to, makes sure his teammates are doing the right things, he’s just the kid that you always want to have. He’s been so huge to have, and I know he’ll keep doing that same thing at the college level.”
Stevenson signs to play at Wyoming
Justin Stevenson’s senior year was all about stepping up.
After the graduation of a number of seniors in the Paetow program Justin Stevenson found himself as the No. 1 wide receiver with a chance to prove himself to the whole country.
Stevenson did just that, having a big senior season and earning a number of scholarship opportunities.
In the end it was the University of Wyoming that Stevenson chose as his collegiate destination, as he found the opportunity he wanted at the next level.
“It’s amazing,” Stevenson said. “This is what I’ve worked to accomplish, and I found a good place for me. I think that Wyoming is just a really good place for me to grow on and off the field, as a receiver and everything else. The coaching staff and the team were great and I just felt like I had a real connection.”
Stevenson was one of the biggest weapons in District 19-6A as a senior with his ability to stretch the field and make big plays out of nothing. He hopes to continue that at Wyoming.
“I just want to go out there and prove myself and continue to get better,” Stevenson said. “I want to be at my best and play my best for them, so it’s about getting there and locking in both on the field and in the classroom.”
Hicks for one, has no doubt that the three of them will succeed in their goals.
“They all are disciplined and they’ve already put in that hard work,” Hicks said. “They know what they have to do to succeed. They had that structure in place and they thrived. I think the three of them, no matter where they go, no matter what they end up doing in life, they’re going to be successful in it because that’s the type of people they are.”
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