Se­niors fi­nal­ize their plans on Na­tional Sign­ing Day

Lackey se­niors ink na­tional let­ter of in­tent

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

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.”

STAFF PHOTO BY AJ MA­SON

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.

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