West Feliciana players, seated from left, Ronald Sims, Brent Williams and Hunter Smith negotiate the paperwork for National Signing Day. Also joining them, standing from left, are Sims’ parents Anika Cotton and Ronald Sims Sr., Williams’ grandmother WilliaMae Williams and mother Temeshia Straughter; and Smith’s parents Bruce Smith and Heidi Smith.

Advocate photo by Howard Arceneaux

Three Saints football players sign to play at the next level

Three West Feliciana Saints signed scholarship offers from universities on National Signing Day, ensuring their futures will include football.

Ronald Sims, Hunter Smith and Brent Williams were surrounded by family, friends, teammates and school personnel on Feb. 1 as they made their commitments official by signing full scholarships offers from their respective schools.

Coach Robb Odom, who guided the team to perhaps its best season ever with a 13-1 record, a District 6-3A championship and No.1 playoff seed before a 16-14 loss to Lutcher in the playoff semifinals, praised the three players.

“It’s not easy to make it to the next level,” Odom said before playing a highlight film of the three seniors. “We try to promote our kids, send film to the coaches, drive our kids to camps and we want to see them successful.

"Very few people get to play at the next level, these guys have earned that opportunity and it’s a big day for them and their families and we’re very proud of them.”

Sims, who played running back and defensive end for the Saints, signed with Northwestern State where he’s projected to play defensive end. He was recruited by Army, The Citadel, Jackson State, McNeese State, Nicholls, Southeastern and Southern.

“I was talking to the coaches there and they made it feel like it was home,” Sims said. “When I toured the facilities and everything, it just made me comfortable. Some of my fellow (Saints) players are there and that made me feel at home.”

Former Saints Ryan Reed, Rickey Chatman, Chris Taylor are on the Demon football team, which finished 1-10 last season.

“It just felt right to me, like West Feliciana, and the coaches said they see my potential,” said Sims, who said he plans to major in engineering. “Everything I learned from here, I’m going to take it with me and add on to it.”

Smith signed with the University of Louisiana at Monroe after being recruited by many of the in-state schools and Army. Smith will play linebacker for the Warhawks, who were 4-8 last season but have signed the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the Sun Belt Conference.

“Playing in Division I has always been my dream and that was a big part of my decision,” said Smith. “I wanted to be closer to home and I’ve got a lot of family up there.”

Smith said he plans to major in physical therapy or pharmacy.

“There’s a lot of stuff for me to do there that I like to do like hunting and fishing,” Smith said. “It’s a pretty big town and it’s spread out so I like that about it and I liked the campus a lot.”

Williams said he made his decision to play for Army because he was thinking about what was best for his family. Because of the U.S. Military Academy’s appointment process, Williams is not considered officially signed until Reception Day in the summer. He signed a certificate of commitment to attend West Point, which finished 8-5 in 2016.

“I’m not going there just for four years of college, but I’m looking at after college as well,” said Williams, who is projected as a defensive tackle, the same position he played for the Saints. “Sometimes, you have to do something different, and I was more focused on what I can do to help my family.”

Williams plans to major in chemical engineering. The camaraderie attracted him to play for the Black Knights.

“They stand on their traditions, and they support each other, win or lose,” Williams said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

One other note from NSD: Receiver Jazz Ferguson transferred from LSU to the Northwestern State, where he was part of the Demons’ class. He’ll have to sit out the 2017 season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.

East Feliciana’s Coleman signs

Defensive lineman Wardell Coleman was the lone East Feliciana Tiger to sign to play college football on National Signing Day. Coleman, who is projected as a defensive end, will play for Concordia-St. Paul, a small college in Minnesota.

Coach Cedric Anderson said another Tiger player may sign with Louisiana College in the near future.

Send sports news, photos and stats to Howard Arceneaux at harceneaux@theadvocate.com.