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Several area athletes sign national letters of intent

Longtime teammates headed for LSC rival schools

Posted: February 6, 2013 - 1:09pm  |  Updated: February 7, 2013 - 1:42am
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Tamara Tucker, right, celebrates her son D'Maujeric Tucker signing with Eastern New Mexico at Frenship High School Wednesday. (Stephen Spillman)
Tamara Tucker, right, celebrates her son D'Maujeric Tucker signing with Eastern New Mexico at Frenship High School Wednesday. (Stephen Spillman)
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For most of their football-playing lives, Frenship running back D’Maujeric Tucker and offensive lineman Dalyn Bearden have been on the same team, from youth league through junior high and high school.

On Wednesday, each signed national letters of intent at different schools. Not just different school, but competing schools in the Lone Star Conference as Tucker signed with Eastern New Mexico in Portales, N.M. while Bearden inked with Tarleton State in Stephenville.

“It’ll be different, Tucker said. “I’m glad he’s on offense because he’s a big guy and if he got ahold of me, it wouldn’t be too good. I’m glad he’s on the other side of the ball.”

Tucker and Bearden headline a slew of local athletes in football, track and soccer who signed to play collegiately on National Signing Day. The Frenship duo were the two closest to earning Division I football scholarships, but decided to go in another direction.

Bearden said he chose Tarleton over offers from Texas State and West Texas A&M and is looking forward to the small-town nature the campus offers. Plus, the Texans are preparing to become a FCS school in two years.

“I really like where it’s at,” Bearden said. “I felt at home at Tarleton even though they are Division II. I like it there and love the coaches. I want to be around people I want to be close to and I felt comfortable there.”

Bearden, a center, was the anchor of the Tigers offensive line that averaged 388 yards per game in reaching the Class 4A Division II regional final. Most of his time was spent opening holes for Tucker.

The Avalanche-Journal All-City Offensive Player of the Year, Tucker rushed for 2,793 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2012. He had hoped for some Division I offers from Texas Tech or Oklahoma State, but said he’s happy with his decision to play for the Greyhounds.

“It feels good,” Tucker said. “Hopefully I can take everything I learned here to the next level. Everything happens for a reason so I’m going to go and try my best to play this year, give it all I got and what’s meant to be will come.”

Frenship head coach Brad Davis said ENMU and Tarleton got a couple of steals with Tucker and Bearden.

“Without a doubt both of them are going to do great things at Tarleton and Eastern New Mexico,” Davis said. “Both were on the verge of getting offers from Division I schools. They’re going to be special at both schools, I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

 

Uchebo to UT

It’s no wonder Pamela Uchebo plans to major in computer science when she reaches Austin in the fall.

Uchebo, a Lubbock High senior track and field star, took to the computer this past summer to reach out to a handful of top track and field programs, hoping to pique the interests of some of the best schools in the nation.

On Wednesday, her efforts paid off.

Uchebo signed with Texas on Wednesday morning, where she will be a long jumper and triple jumper.

“I realized I had the potential to go to college for track,” Uchebo said, “so I decided to Google a few things and went to websites that really helped me with the process. And I was able to use Twitter as well to ask some questions that I needed answers to.”

Uchebo attended a national camp at Stanford this past summer, just weeks after competing in the state meet.

After the camp is when she reached out to schools like Oregon, Texas and Stanford.

Ultimately, it came down to Oklahoma and Texas.

Tuesday night is when Uchebo decided to head to Austin, where she said she will receive a 50 percent scholarship.

The Texas women are currently ranked No. 14 in the nation, and Uchebo is excited to improve her jumps while in the state’s capital.

“I really like the academics and also the environment at UT,” she said, “and I really like Austin and the coach (Rose Brimmer). She’s really funny and the girls are really a close-knit group.”

Something Uchebo has had to overcome is nerves at meets, but she said her maturity has helped her reach more of her potential.

LHS coach Jason Trook said Uchebo has the ability to continue her improvement in her final season.

He called her potential “unlimited,” and he expects to see increased jumps in her distances.

She finished seventh in the triple jump at state last season (38 feet, 1 1/2 inches), which was about a 3-foot improvement compared to where she was at the beginning of the season, Trook said.

“Last year she was really focused on doing well and getting to state,” Trook said. “She walked off the track last year and said, ‘I‘m going to win next year.’ So she’s really focused, really hard working. ... There’s no telling how good she can be.”

 

Keller picks Cisco

Charles Keller may have been shy and soft spoken when he signed with Cisco College on Wednesday morning, but his performance on the field speaks for itself.

Keller, who racked up 100 tackles, nine sacks and an interception for Lubbock High as a senior linebacker, was the “quarterback of the defense,” coaches David Moody and Duane Toliver said Wednesday morning shortly after Keller signed to play for Cisco College, a two-year school near Abilene.

“He’s a really, really shy person, but on the football field, that’s his element,” Moody said. “When he’s out there, he’s in his domain. He’s the king out there and he runs the show.”

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Keller is expected to play two years at Cisco, and he hopes to sign with a Division I school after playing in Abilene.

Moody, who coached at Texas Tech, says Keller has all the intangibles to play on Saturdays — Sundays, too, if Keller reaches his potential.

“It’s going to take hard work, dedication and studying,” said Keller, who said the opportunity to start right away at Cisco made him want to sign with the Wranglers.

He also liked how the coaches were honest with him, and told him exactly what it takes to play and study at the next level.

Toliver, a former Tech defensive end who is the Westerners’ defensive coordinator, said it’s Keller’s closing speed that makes him a player capable of shining on the next level.

Four years ago, Moody and Toliver saw glimpses of Keller’s ability. This fall, he was one of the top defensive players in the area, earning All-City honors.

“It has been a great pleasure watching that kid grow from the itty-bitty, skinny freshman he was four years ago,” Toliver said, “to the man he is now.”

 

Willis picks ENMU

Shallowater’s Kade Willis signed with Eastern New Mexico on Wednesday after a highly successful senior season at Shallowater.

While the senior scatback made headlines on offense for filling in for bruiser Jarek Black, it’s his play on defense that ultimately earned him a scholarship.

Willis will likely line up in the secondary for the Greyhounds, although he was listed as an athlete on Eastern’s website.

“He’s got a knack for getting to the ball,” Shallowater coach Kyle Maxfield said. “He’s a real aggressive player. He’s just a smart player on both sides of the ball.”

Willis led the Mustangs with 114 tackles in his senior season, and the 5-foot-9 free safety also snagged three interceptions.

Maxfield said Willis has great quickness, so his 150-pound frame shouldn’t limit him on the field.

Willis needs to make sure to stay patient as he competes for playing time, Maxfield said, but he knows Willis has a chance to be successful.

“The best way to describe Kade is he’s been a warrior for our program,” Maxfield said, “and he’s set a great example for future Mustangs.”

 

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National

oops

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Hulloo?? AJ Editors>>>????

I want to be around people I want to be close two and I felt comfortable there.”

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