Connell signs with DI Warriors; Honts signs with DIII War Hawks during National Signing Day mock signing
By TJ MAXWELL
After more than half dozen years playing alongside one another, Copperas Cove seniors Floyd Connell and Kaleb Honts got to share the stage one last time as they participated in a mock signing ceremony Wednesday at the high school.
“It’s amazing,” Honts said about signing with longtime teammate Connell. “I couldn’t have asked to do it with anybody else. Me and Floyd have been riding together since the sixth grade. We always been side by side and he’s always helping me to get better.”
Connell echoed those sentiments.
“It’s great,” said Connell. “Kaleb is a hard worker. I’ve been working with him since sixth grade. We played in Little League together and in junior high. It’s good to see that all his hard work paid off.”
Head coach and athletic director Jack Welch acknowledged this is one of his favorites parts about being a coach.
“I always look forward to coming to the gym for whatever sport is signing because this is the pinnacle of what we do. It’s the culmination of years of hard work. When you see young people have the opportunity to move on and further their careers, it gives you a warm feeling inside.”
Connell, who played wide receiver for most of his career, signed to play defensive back for the Division I University of Louisiana-Monroe Warriors.
“It feels good. It’s exciting,” said Connell. “They offered me for corner, but they said I could probably play both. We’ll have to see what happens in the spring.”
An unfortunate situation for another player resulted in the opportunity of a lifetime for Connell and he took full advantage.
“It was a big change for me,” he said. “Going into my junior season, I was playing at receiver. Our starting defensive back ended up having an ankle injury, so they just put me in there knowing I was an athlete and a ball hawk. They stuck me in there, I shined, and it became one of my primary positions.”
Those skills are what garnered Connell an offer.
“They like my ball skills, how I go for the ball and that I’m a physical corner,” said Connell.
Although previously committing to Abilene Christian University, the vibe he got on his visit to Monroe sold him on the Warriors.
“It had a lot to do with the coaches,” he said. “We went down there and it felt good mixing in with them all and they made it feel like home.”
Connell hopes the opportunity at the DI level will propel him to continue his career in the professional ranks.
“Definitely,” he said. “It has always been a dream of mine to go to the NFL and play and I think this is going to be the spot that takes me there.”
Honts will stay in Texas with the Division III McMurry University Warhawks where he will likely play slot receiver.
“It’s surreal, to be honest,” said Honts. “This has been a dream since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to play college football. I didn’t even know if I would play varsity football so it’s a dream.
“They told me slot would be the best fit for me and a little bit of outside, so I’ve got to become more open-minded and be more comfortable with where I’m at.”
Honts feels his experience as a Bulldawg will help him in the War Hawks’ offense.
“They have a run-pass option kind of offense and they like to throw drags and slants to the slot guys,” he said. “That allows me to use my quickness and route running in the offense and be a big asset.”
Honts also credits the family vibe for his decision to choose McMurry.
“Walking in, it felt like home from the jump,” he said. “They are very nice and very friendly. It has a real small town feel and it’s very comfortable. A second home is exactly what I needed in a college.”
Both look forward to making new memories with their new brothers but took time to reflect on some of the memories made in Cove.
“What sticks out to me is actually the first day I ever met Floyd,” said Honts. “We were practicing for a tryout to see which team we’d be picked up on. My dad was the coach and I saw Floyd catch three or four balls so I told my dad, ‘there is no one else who can catch the ball like him. We have to have him.’ We ended up getting a great player.”
For Connell the camaraderie with his brothers and his first impact play on defense sticks out.
“There are a lot of memories,” he said. “As a receiving corps, we were really close. The bus rides coming home from games, there were times when we had tough losses or tough wins and we were celebrating. We were making raps or singing. It was a good time and I enjoyed it.
“I think the biggest memory had to be my junior season when I first played defensive back in my first game when I got my first interception.”