Nine Panthers sign letters of intent


National Signing Day has been quite an occasion on the Lufkin High School campus, where they have sent several athletes on to play at the next level over the past several years.

Wednesday morning was no exception as nine Panthers signed letters of intent to play football starting next season.

Kordell Rodgers headlined the class as he was the lone Division I signee while four players will be taking their talents out of the state.

Those signing for the Panthers were Rodgers (Texas State), Ariel Olvera and Torrand Grisby (Southwestern Kansas), Kahlil Brown and Jadrian Taylor (Victor Valley College), D’hailon Phillips and Javante Ellington (Trinity Valley), Joseph Bell (Tyler Junior College) and Samuel Weatherred (Midwestern State).

Rodgers, who starred as a quarterback at Lufkin, could see playing time on the defensive side with Texas State starting next season.

He had a memorable career at Lufkin, which was capped by a stellar senior season in which he completed 220-of-348 passes for 3,311 yards and 32 touchdowns while throwing only three interceptions. Rodgers also ran for 336 yards and 11 touchdowns on 90 carries.

Two of his top targets will be joining forces once again next season as Phillips and Ellington each signed with Trinity Valley.

Phillips was the team’s leading receiver this past season with 64 catches for 1,066 yards and nine touchdowns. Ellington had 35 receptions for 492 yards and four touchdowns.

Keeping with the theme of Panthers who will be teammates again next season, Brown and Taylor each signed with Victor Valley College.

Victor Valley is a community College in Victorville, Calif.

Last season, Brown ran for 973 yards and 17 touchdowns on 178 carries.

He also caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Taylor made his mark for the Panthers with his play on the defensive line.

Two more Panthers that will be teammates once again next season are Olvera and Grisby, who each committed to Southwestern Kansas, a university in Winfield, Kan.

Olvera and Grisby each played linebacker for the Panthers this past season.

Samuel Weatherred will continue his playing career on the offensive line for Midwestern State, a school in Wichita Falls.

Rounding out the signees was Joseph Bell, who stayed close to home by signing with Tyler Junior College.

This past season, the Panthers finished with a 7-4 record before suffering a heartbreaking 50-49 loss to John Tyler in the opening round of the playoffs.

Wednesday was the first day in which players could officially sign their letters of intent to continue their playing careers at the next level.

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