Neshoba Central’s Matthew Turcotte has signed to play football for Mississippi College. Matthew, seated center, is with his parents, Robert and Sharon Turcotte, and, standing, from left, assistant principal LaShon Horne, Coach Chuck Friend and assistant principal Jimmy Buchanan. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf --><br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->
Neshoba Central’s Matthew Turcotte has signed to play football for Mississippi College. Matthew, seated center, is with his parents, Robert and Sharon Turcotte, and, standing, from left, assistant principal LaShon Horne, Coach Chuck Friend and assistant principal Jimmy Buchanan.

Four local football players have signed to continue their football careers on the next level.

Matthew Turcotte, a punter at Neshoba Central has signed to play for Mississippi College. Meanwhile, Philadelphia High School's Romon Gray, Jacardius Griffin and Chris Gill have signed on with the East Mississippi Community College Lions in Scooba.

Turcotte averaged around 45 yards per punt and is considered to be one of the best high school punters in Mississippi. He played in the Mississippi-Alabama all-star game in December.

According to the Mississippi College website, Matthew has family connections with Mississippi College. His uncle, MC vice president Jim Turcotte, a former kicker on the university's 1979 team that won its first Gulf South Conference championship, was happy to see one of his relatives sign with his alma mater.

"I have recruited him a lot to come to MC," Turcotte said. "Matthew is the type of student we all hope to see at MC for his academics and personal faith. He was selected as one of the top 100 high school football players in Mississippi this past year."

Matthew "had other options, but chose us for the best kind of reasons," says Turcotte, MC's vice president for enrollment management and dean of students. "He wanted to succeed in his studies and he likes our student environment. He is a good student and a wonderful person."

Mississippi College has gone from Division III to Division II. By going to NCAA Division II, MC is able to offer athletic scholarships. The Choctaw in the 1980s won the national championship on the Division II before dropping down to Division III.

Tornadoes stay together

Tornado quarterback Romon Gray and running back Jarcardius Griffin were the one-two offensive punch for Philadelphia High School for the past two seasons with their teams losing only one regular season game in four years and always going to the playoffs. Now they hope to be teammates at EMCC.

Offensive lineman Chris Gill helped clear the way for both Gray and Griffin during that time.

The East Mississippi Lions are the defending national champions in junior college football with many of their graduates going on to play with major Division I teams.

For instance, Lacoltan Bester, a Kemper County graduate who played with the Lions, is now a member of the Oklahoma Sooners and played in the Sugar Bowl earlier this year against Alabama.

This Tornado trio has the chance to be a part of a very successful program.

East Central signees

East Central Community College offensive lineman Kyron Samuels of Fairhope, Ala., has signed a national letter of intent to continue his athletic career at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala.

The 6-foot-2, 315-pound center/guard was an All-State and All-American selection at Fairhope High School and was chosen a team captain for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. Following his sophomore season at East Central, Samuels was named a Dandy Dozen Junior College offensive lineman and was ranked 20th overall by Rivals.com. He is the son of James and Sha'Wanda Samuels of Fairhope.

East Central has announced the signing of the following students to football scholarships:

- Andrew Dunn, QB, Pascagoula;

- Austin Balthazor, QB, Seminary;

- Emmanuel Ross, RB, Velma Jackson;

- Jordan Thomas, TE, Sumrall;

- Conner Landrum, TE, Sumrall;

- Rashad Moore, WR, D'Iberville;

- Gary Triplett, WR, Central La., Baton Rouge;

- Dustyn Breckley, OL, Bay, Waveland;

- Micah Parten, OL, N.W. Rankin;

- Mauricio Hernandez, OL, Oak Grove, Hattiesburg;

- Eddie Houston, OL, Newton High School;

- Wade Grady, OL, Ridgeland;

- Zach Graves, DL, Magee;

- Henry Smith, LB, Richton;

- Eric McPherson, LB. Jim Hill;

Jackson;

- Johna Myers, DB, Petal;

- Jaylon Lofton, DB, Forest;

- Emory Ireland, DB, Hattiesburg;

- Devontae Wilson, DB, Warren Central; and,

- Brennan O'Keefe, K, St. Martin, Ocean Springs.