PALESTINE – Palestine Wildcats Kendrick Barrett and Da'Waylyn Lewis signed their national letters of intent to play collegiate football last Friday at Palestine High School.

Barrett was an all-district honorable mention in his final season for the Wildcats and will take his talents to Oklahoma Panhandle State.

“I'm nervous, but I'm ready,” Barrett said. “It's a lot I still have to prove. I'm ready to give 110 percent.”

Lewis, who was a first-team All-District offensive and defensive lineman, officially signed to play football at Southern University Shreveport. Lewis finished with 20 tackles, five sacks, three quarterback hits and a fumble recovery in six district games.

“I love this game,” Lewis said. “Signing to play college ball showed me all that hard work I put in was worth it. I appreciated all the people who helped me and believed in me getting to this point now.”

The 2021 recruiting cycle had certainly been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that brought society, economies and countries nearly to a halt.

Within the college football recruiting realm, which is already tough to navigate, several other components have subsequently been affected by current circumstances.

Communication, relationship-building and selling had all been affected by the pandemic erasing official, unofficial and home visits. 

Assistant football Coach Jacob McGee, who's also the receiver's coach, had a helping hand in pushing Barrett's name out in the recruiting space.

For Lewis, the opportunity to play on the collegiate level wasn't even in the cards two years ago. It wasn't until Head Coach Lance Angel returned to Palestine that he made the decision to return to athletics.

“By the way Coach Angel coached I could tell I wanted to be a part of his program,” Lewis said. “He was here previously and I seen the way he was with my brother. I knew he was going to bring the best out of me.”

The family-like atmosphere is what Angel has attempted to provide in his locker room. In doing so, two more Palestine athletes have essentially become beacons of success for younger athletes.

“This shows anybody can do it,” Lewis said. “It's about being willing to work. If you're willing to work hard enough you can achieve your goals.”

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