SIGNING DAY 2012: Calhoun LB leads long list of Crossroads signees
By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Feb. 1, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 1, 2012 at 8:02 p.m.
Port Lavaca is a long way from Annapolis, Maryland, but Nick McCrory is prepared to make the move.
Surrounded by classmates, the Calhoun senior signed his national letter of intent to play football for the U.S. Naval Academy on Wednesday morning inside the Calhoun gymnasium.
After putting pen to paper, the first team all-state linebacker admitted he was filled with mixed emotions.
"I've got butterflies (in my stomach), but I'm excited," McCrory said. "I'm a little nervous, but I'm ready.
"This is just the beginning. We'll see what happens next."
McCrory does not know exactly how the Midshipmen will utilize his skills. He hopes to continue playing outside linebacker, but he is willing to accept any role.
"I just do what I'm told," McCrory said.
As a senior, McCrory helped the Sandcrabs acheive their first 10-0 regular season before advancing to the regional round of the Class 4A playoffs, where they were eliminated by Kerrville Tivy.
McCrory finished the season with 145 tackles, including 19 for loss, a dozen sacks, two interceptions, six blocked kicks and six defensive touchdowns during the Sandcrabs' standout season.
Calhoun head coach Richard Whitaker is confident McCrory will excel.
"The Naval Academy, they only take the elite," the coach said. "That means the elite students in the classroom and the elite players on the field.
"For Nick to have that opportunity is phenomenal. We are very excited for him. He will do well."
Whitaker, however, had more than one reason to be proud on national signing day.
Calhoun tackle Thaelen Villarreal signed to play for Lon Morris, a junior college in Jacksonville, where he will have an opportunity to start as a freshman.
"It feels like I'm going home," the 6-foot-1, 330-pounder said. "It is a small school, it is a small town and everything just makes me feel like I'll be home."
Villarreal hopes to move to either center or guard, but he is more than willing to continue playing tackle as he intends to focus primarily on his studies.
"It all comes down to academics," Villarreal said. "That's the main reason why I'm going there, I'm going to get my education.
"Football is just a bonus."
Former Sandcrab Daniel Brooks, who transferred back to his hometown of Rockdale following the football season, signed to play at Oklahoma on Wednesday.
Rounding out Calhoun's signings, Sandies softball player Tiffany Castillo inked her letter of intent to join her sister, Cecilia Castillo, at Sam Houston State.
"I can't even explain how happy I am," Castillo said. "Right now, they want me to catch, but if they move me anywhere else, I'm willing to play anywhere."
While Castillo was celebrating an upcoming, on-field reunion with her sister, about 60 miles northwest of Port Lavaca, another pair diverged paths.
Derek Brown and John Paul DeLaRosa have been teammates at Bay City, but they'll be on opposite sides on the college level.
Brown signed with Rice and DeLaRosa with Texas-El Paso of Conference USA.
"We joke about it every day," DeLaRosa said. "It's something we laugh about. I can't wait until we get at it."
Brown started at quarterback and defensive end and also played wide receiver for the Blackcats last season. He chose Rice for academic and athletic reasons.
"Don't get me wrong, football has always been my ticket to get the success that I want," Brown said. "But you also have to be smart and realistic about it.
"There is a very small percentage that get to the next level of football. Playing football at a quality university has always been an eye-catcher for me."
Rice coach David Bailiff was impressed with Brown's ability and versatility.
"He is an exciting athlete who played all over the field for Bay City," Bailiff said. "He played receiver, quarterback, running back, defensive end, linebacker and safety in high school, but we will probably play him at wide receiver."
Brown is hoping to play for the Owls as a freshman, and hasn't given up on playing quarterback.
"My specific role next year was in my hands," Brown said. "I could of either be redshirted this year and be a true quarterback, or come in and have the opportunity to play as a true freshman out at the wideout position and also play wildcat quarterback. My role is learn the offense from the wildcat quarterback position and just evolve into a quarterback from there."
DeLaRosa wants to play offensive tackle for the Miners, the same position he played for the Blackcats.
"I just felt I'll have a better career at UTEP," he said. "I felt that's the place for me to be and that's where I'll have the most success right now."
DeLaRosa felt the positives at UTEP more than made up for the 12-hour drive from Bay City to El Paso.
"The recruiter talked to me and from then on it became a relationship," he said. "I went to their camp and they told me to come visit the campus. I visited the campus and they pretty much offered me. Coach Price is a great guy. I can't wait to play for him."
Hallettsville Sacred Heart tight end Cole Wick is equally excited to get his college career under way after signing to play at University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
Wick, a key contributor during the Indians' run to the 2011 TAPPS Division IV state championship, has been determined to play collegiately since elementary school.
"It was obviously a dream come true," Wick said. "I wanted to play college football for a long time, so this a completion of that goal.
"I consider it a big accomplishment because coming from a smaller school, you have to work really hard to gain the attention of a college coach."
A pair of Gonzales players - offensive tackle Cody Jurek and linebacker Landon Lock - will continue their athletic careers together after each signed to play at Eastern New Mexico, while the Edna duo of running back Devin Parks and offensive lineman Mac Long will play at Houston.
Cowboys wide receiver Darrius Callies also signed a letter of intent, choosing to play at Texas Southern.
El Campo defensive lineman Joey Hunt participated in a signing day ceremony prior to playing in the International Bowl - a game featuring U.S. players against world players in an all-star format - in Austin on Wednesday. Hunt will play at TCU.
After helping to guide Refugio to the Class 2A state championship, Bobcats receiver Lynx Hawthorne will play at Baylor, while Rice Consolidated offensive lineman Jared Kaster will play at Texas Tech. Both have already graduated high school and are currently attending their respective schools.
Kaster's teammate, lineman Jonovan Allen signed to play at Blinn College.
Mike Forman and Will Brown contributed to thsi report. Whittington was reporting from Port Lavaca.