Parents, friends and administrators filled the auxiliary gym at Higley High School on Feb. 5 as several Knight athletes signed their National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic careers at the next level.

“We’ve definitely, over the last couple of years, have stepped our game up,” Higley football coach Eddy Zubey said of the school’s athletic programs. “It’s a commitment in the offseason by the coaches that are here and the kids. The quality is getting batter.”

Among Higley’s signees were seven players from the football program that made it to the 5A quarterfinals in the fall. Jason Harris, Higley’s four-star defensive end, put ink to paper to make his college destination official.

In January, Harris announced during the Under Armour All-America Game he would attend the University of Colorado. His decision was broadcasted live on ESPN.

“Colorado felt like home for me,” Harris said. “Boulder is a beautiful place to live and just training up there with the elevation I think will put me on another level.”

Harris chose not to follow in the footsteps of his family. His father, Sean, played football at the University of Arizona. His mother, Cha-Ron, played basketball for the Wildcats. His older brother, Jalen, started last season at defensive and for Arizona.

While he admits it was difficult to go away from the U of A bloodline in his family, Harris believes Colorado was ultimately the best destination for him to grow as a player.

“It was definitely hard but at the end of the day I have to trust my gut,” Harris said. “I just had to follow my dreams and they were ok with that. They just said they wanted me to be happy.”

Higley senior athlete Isaiah Eastman also made his college destination official on Signing Day, as he signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his career at South Dakota School of Mines.

“I love the offense they run up there,” Eastman said. “I feel like I can really fit in up there. It felt like a family and it was a comfortably environment.”

Eastman was drawn to the Hardrockers after a visit to the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota. A transfer from Desert Ridge after his sophomore year, Eastman rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns last season for the Knights. He also caught 40 passes for 528 yards and five more touchdowns.

Eastman believes his skillset will allow him to immediately challenge for playing time at South Dakota School of Mines. Though one other factor contributed to his decision to sign with the Hardrockers.

His brother, Adrian, is heading into his sophomore season in the football program.

“We’ve always wanted to play together,” Eastman said. “We almost did sophomore year, but it didn’t end up working out. Now that we have a chance to do it, it’s super exciting.”

Shortly after Higley’s Signing Day ceremony concluded, just a few miles north five Highland football players prepared to make their college destinations official.

Daniel Wood, Highland’s running back and linebacker, was one of the five players. Wood signed a preferred walk on offer from the University of Utah, but he also received a full academic scholarship from the school.

He plans to play only running back when he arrives in Salt Lake City but has flirted with the idea of also transitioning to defensive back.

“I went up there and I loved the facilities and I love the culture they’re building right now,” Wood said of Utah. “It’s fun to win and they’re winning. I just love the coaches an everything they have planned.”

Wood was joined by teammates Tysen Rohner and Tanner Crandall, who both signed with Northern Arizona University.

Crandall, a standout basketball player for the Hawks, was mobbed by both his current and former teammates following his signing to NAU becoming official.

“I’m just grateful for the opportunity and they showed a lot of interest in AZ guys,” Crandall said. “They have something special going on and I wanted to be part of it.”

Rohner suffered an injury just two games into his senior year. As a result, he was sidelined and missed Highland’s final 10 games of the season.

But at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, the tight end was given an opportunity to bounce back at the college level for a rising Lumberjacks’ program.

“For them to give me an opportunity to play at the next level even though I missed my senior season, I’m really grateful for that,” Rohner said. “I’m just excited to get back to it and play the game I love.”

Athletes in Gilbert who signed on Feb. 5

Highland

Tanner Crandall, Football, Northern Arizona University

Logan MacGregor, Football, New Mexico State University

Jahron McGee, Football, University of Puget Sound

Ariana Moreno, Soccer, Mesa Community College

Tysen Rohner, Football, Northern Arizona University

Daniel Wood, Football, Utah

Perry

Brenna Alderson, Soccer, Grand Canyon University

Cheyann Becker, Softball, Judson University

Kyle Brereton, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Wyatt, Deutsch, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Travis Drosos, Football, University of Colorado

Kalli Fama, Swim, University of Michigan

Aubree Flores, Soccer, Northern Arizona University

Mariah Gramza, Wrestling, Big Bend Community College

Aaron Henry IV, Football, Western New Mexico University

Andrew Henwood, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Hayden Jaramillo, Soccer, South Dakota School of Mines

Cade Kilanowski, Golf, Glendale Community College

Broc Lane, Football, Utah State University

Tyler Macpherson, Golf, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Andrei Mayberry, Football, Northern Arizona University

Samara McConnell, Track & Field, University of Mississippi

Keith Pichardo, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Kobe Rome, Football, Fort Hays State University

Cole Sabetta, Football, Northern Arizona University

Hoku Schwenke, Soccer, Ferris State University

Hunter Scott, Football, Weber State University

Cade Veach, Football, Dixie State University

Desert Ridge

Hunter Bagshaw, Baseball, Cerro Coso Community College

John Butler, Football, Rocky Mountain College

Andrew Chino, Football, University of Sioux Falls

Josiah Crockett, Football, Gila River (Juco)

Mark Gomez, Soccer, Mesa Community College

Xavier Gonzales, Baseball, Minot State University

LaVon Harris, Football, Gila River (Juco)

Zach Landa, Track and Field (Throws), University of Arizona

Daniel Ramirez, Football, Ottawa University

Brendan Thome, Baseball, Mesa Community College

Higley

Darrell Branch, Football, University of Arizona

Isaiah Eastman, Football, South Dakota School of Mines

Drake Hampton, Soccer, Scottsdale Community College

Jason Harris, Football, Colorado Buffaloes

Justin James, Cross Country/Track, Mesa Community College                              

Kiara Kossak, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Aleksander (AJ) Laux, Football, Southeast Missouri State University

Brail Lipford, Football, Rocky Mountain College

Alexander Lines, Football, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Michael Leija, Baseball, Olivet College

Penelope Mejia, Soccer, Mesa Community College

Mya Mudry, Soccer, Chandler Gilbert Community College

McKenna Peterson, Basketball, Crown College

Diego Rangel, Soccer, Dakota Wesleyan

Jack Spencer, Baseball, Bethany Bison College

Damon Vilkauskas, Golf, South Mountain Community College

Drew Vurpillat, Football, Gila River (Juco)

Williams Field

Mason Bugg, Football, Air Force

Andreas Finlayson, Football, University of Mary

Josh Gale, Football, University of California – Davis

Andrew Garcia, Football, Garden City Community College

Mollie Griswold, Soccer, University of North Carolina

Jayden John, Softball, Scottsdale Community College

Noah Marks, Baseball, Glendale Community College

Carl Miltun, Golf, University of Missouri A&T

Ian Shewell, Football, University of New Mexico

Campo Verde

Jayden Fletcher, Football, Rocky Mountain College

Danny Glenn, Baseball, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Ryan Hutchens, Football, Lake Forest College

Matt Lenzo, Swim & Dive, University of Texas - Permian Basin

Lauren Scillo, Equestrian, University of Tennessee - Martin

Gilbert

Kyrstin Calleja, Softball, Willamette University

Landon Driggers, Swim & Dive, University of Indianapolis

Brady Haake, Golf, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

Darion Londo, Soccer, Mesa Community College

Dominick Lopez, Soccer, Mesa Community College

Hayden McCall, Football, Gila River (Juco)

Molly Pekala, Soccer, Milwaukee School of Engineering

Will Plummer, Football, University of Arizona

Kolbe Stuckwisch, Football, Arizona State University

Brianna Villegas, Gymnastics, Hawai’i Pacific University

Mesquite

Samantha Holbert, Softball, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Daniyah Jehanger, Beach Volleyball, Park University

Andrick Jones, Baseball, Coe College

Hailey Sweet, Softball, Scottsdale Community College

American Leadership Academy – Gilbert North

Kade Thorley, Football, University of Sioux Falls

Malakai Williams, Football, University of Idaho

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at (480)898-5630 or zalvira@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira

 

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