Under the impeccable guidance of football coach Willis Alexander, the national letter-of-intent ceremony held Wednesday afternoon inside the library at Douglass High School couldn’t have been more dignified.
There was no hat dance, where a recruit chooses one college cap over all others placed in front of him. There wasn’t a hat on the head of any team member in the room.
The Douglass signees were dressed in their Sunday best, many donned in their new school colors. No one peeled off a letter jacket to reveal their college choice. No pants on the ground.
Alexander’s no-nonsense approach to football obviously carries over to how everyone behaves on signing day.
"You need to tell somebody at the start where you stand,” Alexander said of the process. "I don’t like that game some people play.”
Nine Trojans handed over their autographs. They were seated side-by-side behind three tables and three trophies — 2009 Area Champions; 2009 Regional Champions; 2009 State Runner-Up.
Alexander said potentially four more players could sign next week after they complete their recruiting process that was interrupted by bad weather.
Five Trojans will switch from wearing Douglass orange to Langston orange. Here’s the breakdown: Nic Nealy (Grambling State); Aaron James (Central Oklahoma); Corey Mitchell and Norris White (Weber State); Kevin Forbes, Teontez Fortune, Rico Ivy, Stanley Johnson and Andre Thompson (Langston).
Douglass has had past players sign with more prominent programs, but there might never have been a year when this many players from the same class were continuing their education thanks to football.
No one signed with local high-brows Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Tulsa. Asked if this lack of elitism bothered him, Alexander quickly answered, "Nah. School is school. When you go down to the Board of Education and fill out an application, they don’t ask if you came from Princeton, Harvard or Yale. They want to know if you have a college degree. Education is education.”
Alexander described this group of seniors as a "monumental class,” and the progress they have shown since their freshman year indeed was monumental.
They finished 1-9 in 2006, the school’s worst showing in 17 years. After Alexander took the reins in May 2007, the Trojans promptly went 6-4, 9-3 and 10-4.
"We didn’t know anything about reading keys. We don’t know anything like that,” Mitchell said of his rookie season.