Seniors finalize their plans on National Signing Day
Lackey seniors ink national letter of intent
A large crowd of students, administrators, teachers and family members filled the Lackey High School auditorium Wednesday for Nation- al Signing Day to watch four coveted recruits from the football team make one of the biggest decision of their lives.
Seniors Nathan Proctor, Malik Burns, James Tun- stall and Tre Gulley made their commitments official, putting the ink to paper in signing their national letter of intent to play college foot- ball.
Lackey featured three NCAA Division I signees in Proctor (Virginia Tech), Tunstall (Connecticut) and Burns (Temple). Gulley signed to play at Division II outfit West Virginia Wesley- an College.
“This is a great event for these young men. Them and their families have earned it,” Lackey head coach John Lush while speaking to the crowd Wednesday. “While I’m their biggest supporter I’m their biggest pain. This is their biggest moment by far and they are climbing the mountain. I love them and I wish them the best at the next level.”
After verbally committing to Virginia Tech at the Under Armour All-American game on New Year’s Day, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Proctor decided to stick with the Hokies.
With a combination of size and speed, Proctor boasted 30 Division I offers from major programs such as Notre Dame, Georgia, Florida. In his senior season as anchor of the defense, he had 74
tackles, 16 for loss, and eight sacks to help propel Lackey to an 8-3 record and their first postseason berth since 2013.
“It was no place like Blacksburg [Va.]. Football is a big deal and on game day they really get after it on the field,” said Proctor, who also made an official visit to Pittsburgh in January. “It is just a great atmosphere and [head] coach [Justin] Fuente, I really like what he does with the defense.”
Burns, the SMAC’s Most Outstanding Player and one of the top running backs in the state, had offers from 13 schools but ultimately felt that choosing the Temple was the best.
The 6-2, 235-pound Char- gers back had a connec- tion with first-year Owls head coach Geoff Collins, who spent the past two seasons as defensive coor- dinator at the University of Florida.
“All the hard work final- ly paid off and the reason why I’m here today is because of my teammates,” said Burns, whose cousin and 2015 Lackey graduate Cortrelle Simpson is a redshirt sophomore wide receiver on Temple. “The coaching staff just made me feel at home.”
Burns, who was recruit- ed as an outside lineback- er, ripped opposing defenses for 2,290 rushing yards with 26 touchdowns last fall.
“I’m going to miss high school football and the speeches that coach John Lush gave before the games,” Burns said.
Tunstall, a highly recruited offensive tackle for Lush, was elated after signing to join Randy Ed- sall and the Huskies.
At 6-6 and 310 pounds, Tunstall was a force as he helped open gaping holes for the Lackey rushing attack.
“This is truly a blessing for the Lackey football program we all work hard,” said Tunstall, who also had numerous Division I offers. “We deserve to be here and it is a great accomplishment for all four guys knowing that we have a free education. When I went on the visit to UConn, it was one of the best days that I ever had. Touring the facilities and seeing the academics and athletics was great to see.”
Gulley, an All-SMAC defensive back, committed last week and said that he is looking forward to joining the Bobcats and first-year head coach Del Smith.
“It was a family atmosphere and I felt very comfortable about going to the school,” said Gulley, who had 46 tackles and two interceptions on the season. “I will miss playing with my brothers and the coaching staff here at Lackey. Now we are starting a new journey.”
Four Lackey seniors signed national letter of intents to continue their college football careers for National Signing Day Wednesday in the Lackey High School auditorium. Seated, from left, are Malik Burns (Temple), Nathan Proctor (Virginia Tech), James Tunstall (Connecticut) and Tre Gulley (West Virginia Wesleyan). In the back row are Lackey academic advisor Laura Buzzell, left, head football coach John Lush and athletic director Tony Mast.