The Brusly football program had two players make it official on National Signing Day, choosing institutions to continue their academic and athletic careers.
Safety Grant Watts signed to attend Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi, while defensive lineman Jamauri Bridgewater will attend Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Arkansas.
“Signing day every year is a special day,” said Brusly football coach Hoff Schooler. “Athletically and academically those guys handle their business. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Watts and Bridgewater were key components of the Panther squad that reached the quarterfinals for the first time in school history before losing to No. 1 seed and eventual state champion St. James.
Watts capped off his high school career with a senior season that produced 108 tackles, four tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 14 pass breakups, eight interceptions, and four touchdowns.
His stellar season landed him on the Class 3A All-State squad.
“I had a pretty good season,” Watts stated. “You improve from the mental aspect as you get more experienced. It’s easy to go out and play hard for guys like coach Schooler.
“It (making the All-State team) meant a lot,” he added. “Personal accolades mean something even though it’s not the ultimate goal. I just want to say thank you to my teammates, thank God and thank coach.”
Watts explained that his reason for attending Mississippi College had a lot to do with the classroom.
“They had the best academic program for me,” he said. “I talked to other schools, but MC was the place for me to go.”
Watts said he will major in political science.
For Bridgewater, the path to a football scholarship was a little different from Watts. Bridgewater played defensive end in the eighth grade before skipping football his freshman year.
When he returned to the team, he played receiver for two years before changing back to the defensive line for his senior year.
“Bridge is the ultimate team guy,” Schooler said. “He changed positions his senior year and completely bought into what we were doing.”
Bridgewater will have at least one familiar face on the football team next fall at Southern Arkansas. Former Panther Garrett Roberts plays for the Muleriders.
“I went up there on a visit and it felt like home,” Bridgewater said. “It felt like the place I want to be.”
Bridgewater posted 33 tackles (four tackles for loss), one sack, nine QB hurries, two pass breakups, one interception and one score.
Bridgewater credited the coaching staff for the turnaround of not only his high school career but for the program as well.
“When Hoff Schooler got there, I was in Colorado, but I sent him a text that I wanted to help do great things at Brusly,” Bridgewater recalled. “Fast forward three years and we get the third round for the first time in Brusly history.
“Big thanks to the coaching staff, coach Schooler and coach (Khalil) Thomas,” he continued. “Without them, I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today.”