Movin’ On Up
Fri, 2016-02-05 05:00 News Staff
Five Bulldawgs sign to play collegiate football
By TJ MAXWELL
Five Copperas Cove football players realized their dreams on Wednesday as they participated in a signing ceremony as part of National Signing Day Wednesday at the high school.
The first signing ceremony of the year for Copperas Cove High School resulted in three NCAA Division I signings, a NCAA Division II signing and a NJCAA junior college signing.
“These five guys are getting the opportunity to continue their football careers,” said Jack Welch, head coach and athletic director, during the ceremony. “I am so proud of them and I know you are too.”
Shamad Lomax (New Mexico State – NCAA Div. I FBS), JP Urquidez (Baylor - NCAA Div. I FBS), Ra’Shaun Henry (Saint Francis - NCAA Div. I FCS), Antonio Lealiiee (Texas A&M-Commerce) and Josh Klenclo (Tyler Junior College – NJCAA).
Lomax fulfilled a lifelong dream when he signed to play for New Mexico State University.
“It feels great,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true. I’ve really been dreaming about this since I was a little kid. To finally turn it into a reality feels great.”
Lomax, a three-year starter for the Dawgs, was selected as a First Team All-District to two different positions during his time here and that versatility helped him land in New Mexico.
“(Coach) said I should have an open mind going there because I could be playing safety or cornerback and I’m really up for both of them,” said Lomax. “I just want to go there and make some plays.”
Lomax had recruiters calling him all the way up to the NSD festivities but loyalty ultimately kept him in New Mexico State maroon.
“The coaching staff definitely (kept me loyal),” he said. “They would call me up almost every week to see how I was up to and that really showed me that they cared about me.”
Loyalty also led to Urquidez’s decision to with his verbal commitment to the Baylor Bears despite receiving 28 Division I offers.
“The biggest thing is loyalty,” he said. “They stayed loyal to me. They offered other offensive linemen besides me and Patrick Hudson (of Silsbee). We committed and they kept us. We are the ones they wanted and they stayed loyal to us so I figured I could stay loyal to them.”
Urquidez is glad the day has finally come and he can begin his new life as a member of the Baylor Bears after a stressful and long recruitment process.
“It’s a huge sigh of relief,” he said. “There were a lot of final pushes from a lot of great schools. I had an opportunity to play at a lot of great, different schools but now that I’ve signed with Baylor I’m just extremely happy and comfortable with where I’m going.
“It’s been hectic but it was really an awesome process though. As soon as I committed, it was almost like everybody came at me two times harder. It was great and I loved it to see that people want you to come play for such prestigious and tradition-rich programs.”
To share this moment with his teammates also meant a lot to the team leader and mentor, especially fellow offensive lineman Josh Klenclo who blossomed under the tutelage of Urquidez and the Cove coaching staff.
“It was awesome (sharing this moment with my teammates). “I’m extremely proud of Klenclo. I’ve seen him play since freshman year. He was on the Freshmen White team. He has worked so hard on the field and in the weight room and he has gotten two times better.
“I’ve also been playing with Antonio (Lealiiee) since freshman year, and to watch him do what hid did this year was awesome to watch.”
Urquidez also reflected back on a simpler time when all he wanted to do was just play.
“When I was moving here from Stafford, Virginia in eighth grade, I came and visited and watched the team in the weight room and looked at the pictures on the wall and I was like, ‘I want to be that one day,’” he said. “My freshman year I didn’t even know what an offer was. I just wanted to run out of the tunnel and get my letterman jacket and now here I am with 28 Division I offers. It’s fantastic but I couldn’t have done it without them. I love the coaching staff. They have helped me out 100 percent through this process.”
Lealiiee is also relieved he can now focus on the future at A&M-Commerce.
“It feels great right now,” he said. “It’s taking a load off my shoulders. I’m truly blessed that God blessed me with the opportunity to go to the next level and keep playing the sport I love.
“It was kind of fun having all these coaches calling you and wanting to show you what they have to offer you but it was a little stressful too.”
Lealiiee, despite biding his time behind some strong running backs, until his senior season, left an indelible mark on the Bulldwag program.
“In the largest class in the state of Texas, Lealiiee was ranked No. 4 with 1,804 yards per game,” said offensive coordinator Tracy Welch.” And he was No. 2 in 6A for the longest run of 97 yards.”
Those running traits are what drew the A&M-Commerce coaching staff to the running back.
“(They liked) that I’m a real big threat,” he said. “I’m explosive, I hit the hole hard and get down hill. I have a lot of speed that can get to the outside and I’m also a downhill runner.”
Henry, despite not getting many opportunities in the run-heavy Bulldawg offense, did enough to get noticed by (Division I Football Championship Series) Saint Francis in Pennsylvania.
It’s a long way away for Henry but family in the area and a welcoming coaching staff will ease the transition.
“It felt like home,” he said on making the decision. “I’ve got family in New York by Pennsylvania. The coaching staff really loved me and they can’t wait until I get there.
Henry acknowledged that he could have done more but is pleased with his performance and his senior year as a whole.
“I feel like I could have done better but I think I had an all-around good season,” he said. “The coaches really made it a great experience for all of us.”
Last but not least, Klenclo will join a handful of Bulldawgs on the Tyler Junior College Apaches roster. He will join former Dawgs Phil Aumua, Logo Kalieopa and Colton Tuiasosopo.
“It helps a lot,” he said. “I’m not going there as the new person that nobody knows. I will know some people when I get there so I will fit right in.”
Klenclo said his potential was what the Apache coaches liked about him.
“They said I have good feet, good size and that I have a lot of potential,” he said.
The family atmosphere had him sold.
“They took me on a visit and I got a good feel for the campus,” he said. “It feels just like Copperas Cove. It feels like home so I thought it was the right place.”
Klenclo credits Urquidez for helping in his development.
“It helped me to visualize where I wanted to be at and I was working to try to get where he is,” he said. “It was great. His leadership and all that was great.”
The five players bring Cove’s total to 251 football signings in the Jack Welch era.
“These guys are giving us a monumental minute here,” said Jack Welch. “These five guys signing to have over 250 signees come out of Copperas Cove High School during our time here.”