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Senior linebacker Reggie Spearman (right) announced his intent to sign with Iowa on Wednesday. | Judy Fidkowski~For Sun-Times Media
It was all smiles and hugs at Simeon Tuesday night as the Wolverines enjoyed the fruits of their labor on the eve of national signing day.
Eleven seniors will receive athletic scholarships to play football at various universities next season.
The Simeon auditorium was packed with spectators that were clueless as to what the players’ decisions would be. The players did not tell coaches or even their parents where they intended to play. This was evident by the number of calls the players were still receiving from several big-time universities Tuesday.
The list was headed by All-State linebacker Reggie Spearman, who broke the hearts of the Illini faithful as he teased his decision with “I will be playing in the Big 10,” before putting on an Iowa cap. Spearman said he did not make his mind up until this morning. His choices boiled down to Iowa, Illinois and Syracuse.
“Three great schools, three tough choices,’’ Spearman said. ‘’In the end I had to do what was best for me and find the right place for myself.”
Spearman added that his conversations with former Simeon baseball All-stater and current Hawkeye, Blake Hickman factored into his choice.
“I enjoyed my visit when I went there,’’ Spearman said. ‘‘Blake had nothing but positive things to say and there is nothing like having someone that you already know and respect already there to show you the way.”
Spearman not did choose Syracuse, but offensive lineman Kendall Moore did, and said he is glad the process is over.
“At first it was fun, getting all the attention and the calls, but by the end I was stressed out,” Moore said. “I am looking forward to the challenge and starting a new chapter in my life.”
Colleges in the state of Illinois were not totally shut out. All-City tight end John Gardner chose Southern Illinois University and five players picked Division II McKendree University — Elcee Burke (quarterback), Korey Giles (linebacker), Girard Jenkins (wide receiver), Levelle Bragg (defensive back) and Sharoid Roach (running back).
The class was rounded out by defensive back Aaron Banks (Bowling Green), offensive tackle Devante Lee (Middle Tennessee University) and center Bryce Caulton (University of Wisconsin Eau Claire).
Duke basketball recruit Jabari Parker was acknowledged by the football players when he showed up to their press conference. ‘‘This is what makes Simeon special,” Gardner said. “We all pull for each other.”
Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said he is very proud of his players.
“When you have schools telling you that they will gladly take any player from your team and you produce the type of talent that we have, it is a lot for the school and the coaches to be proud of,” Culbreath said.