Palestine High School student-athletes T.J. Dever and Josh Williams made it official Wednesday morning.
Amidst the aroma of doughnuts and orange juice, Dever and Williams put their John Hancocks on NCAA National Letters of Intent to play football at Midwestern State University.
For both, earning a full scholarship culminates four years on the gridiron grind at Wildcat Stadium.
“Coach (Bill) Maskill said I will come in and play tight end, fullback, and slot receiver,” said Dever, who was named to the Palestine Herald-Press’ All-Pine Empire team last Saturday. “I will move around a lot.”
Dever leaves Palestine with 1,209 receiving yards, third best in Wildcat history.
Williams, in many respects, could be considered one of MSU’s crown jewel recruits, finishing with a whopping 341 career tackles for Palestine.
“The coaches there made me feel at home right away,” Williams said, another All-Pine Empire selection. “Instantly, I felt a brotherhood with the coaching staff and players. I will fit in there.”
Both Dever and Williams have been multi-sport standouts for Palestine.
Dever helped the Wildcats win the District 19-4A championship in basketball Tuesday evening. Williams has excelled in the long jump and 200-meter dash for Wildcat track and field.
Dever plans to major in physical therapy or kinesiology; Williams hasn’t chosen his academic track for MSU.
“It’s great for them to continue their career together,” said Palestine head coach Robby Clark, who has seen nine of his players advance to the collegiate level. “T.J. will be the most versatile tight end on their roster right away. Josh also is a flexible player. He can come in and play different positions at linebacker.”
Both players have college-level size and speed. Dever stands 6-foot-3, weighs 240 pounds, and runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash. Williams, at 6-2 and 200 pounds, blazes downhill at less than 4.5 seconds in the 40.
MSU is a traditional powerhouse in NCAA Division II. The Mustangs won the Lone Star Conference, and finished with a 10-1 overall record — advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Maskill has won 129 games in 16 seasons.
There was another signing in Anderson County Wednesday: Frankston's Trinity Boggs chose to continue her softball career at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. She joins former Maidens Karley Erickson and Jordan Moss.
During head coach Robby Clark's tenure, nine players have signed to compete on the college level:
Corbin Boles Southeastern Oklahoma State
Devonte Mims Navarro Junior College
Jhamonte Milton Grand View College (Iowa)
Irric Deyon Grand View College (Iowa) *
Jake Neal Trinity Valley, Angelo State *
Quinn Tinley Texas-Permian Basin *
Waylon Nickerson East Texas Baptist University *
T.J. Dever Midwestern State *
Josh Williams Midwestern State *
* — Still Active.