EDMOND — It already feels like home in Weatherford for Deer Creek's Austin Loomis, Jared Rayburn and Tyler Follis.
All three Deer Creek standouts signed a football letter of intent with Southwestern Oklahoma State on Wednesday, keeping the recruiting pipeline from Edmond to Weatherford alive and well.
“I made my decision when I went down there and it reminded me of home,” Rayburn said. “I felt more confident of going there.
“I think it's going to calm me down and not be all nervous going into a new environment.”
Deer Creek had seven football players sign their letters of intent, marking the largest signing class in school history. This year's signing class went 34-10 over their four-year period.
Former Deer Creek assistant coach Michael Collins is now the wide receivers coach at SWOSU, and he helped recruit the trio. SWOSU head coach Dan Cocannouer also coached at Edmond Santa Fe with Deer Creek assistant Ryan Laverty.
“There's just such a close-knit relationship between their staff and our staff,” Deer Creek coach Grant Gower said. “That's what I told our guys that going out there is going to be almost an extension of what we have here at Deer Creek as far as philosophies, the expectations and the demands put on them.”
The trio joins former Deer Creek receiver Hunter Dinkines with the Bulldogs.
Loomis, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker, led the state with 245 tackles. He was named to The Oklahoman's Big All-City team and was a Second-Team All-State selection.
His grandparents also live in Weatherford, which adds even more to the hometown feel.
“I really felt like it was the place I wanted to go because they've been really loyal to me and they've liked me for a long time and they're like family,” he said.
Follis had 76 tackles as a defensive tackle that was often credited for allowing Loomis to go make the tackles by drawing double and triple teams.
Rayburn really developed in the slot this season, catching 53 passes for 892 yards and 10 touchdowns.
All three players have a close relationship, but it wasn't orchestrated that they would all attend SWOSU together.
“I think I had decided on going over there before I knew they were,” Follis said. “and when they decided too, that was kind of a cool feeling knowing I had buddies going.”
Now, they want to be the three that leave a legacy.
“Me and Austin were talking, for the next step we're going to build that legacy for the school,” Rayburn said. “When we leave SWOSU, our job's to leave a legacy and do the best we can for that school. I feel like my mission is to make SWOSU the best it can be.”