Signature moment: Trio of local players give their college FB pledge on signing day
There’s something special about signing a National Letter of Intent on National Signing Day.
On Wednesday, high school football players across the nation signed with colleges, and three local players made their decisions official.
Central’s Holden Reed and Palisade’s Zaid Bradfield signed with Mesa State College, and Grand Junction’s Mitch Irwin signed to play at Northwestern Iowa.
“It’s pretty surreal. I think I forgot my name when I was signing,” Bradfield said. “It’s a gratifying feeling that I was good enough at something to move on to the next level.”
The excitement isn’t limited to the players — all three were surrounded by coaches, teammates, family and friends. Central coach Vern McGee said it’s always nice to have a player sign on the first day.
“A lot of times we won’t have kids on the official signing day,” McGee said. “It’s nice to have Holden sign on the actual day because that’s added a little more excitement to the process.”
Reed’s versatility made him a coveted recruit. McGee said schools were inquiring about Reed for positions all over the field.
“Different coaches wanted him for different positions,” McGee said. “He played linebacker, so a couple of schools wanted him for that, a couple for quarterback, because you look at him and he’s very fast, and very strong.”
When it came time to declare a position at Mesa, Reed, who played linebacker and quarterback, is listed as an “athlete.”
“They said they wanted me (on the field), and I know I want to be out there,” Reed said. “I want to play at the next level, and to be able to do that at Mesa State is great, no matter where I play.”
Grand Junction’s Irwin, a linebacker, had a few choices before deciding on Northwestern Iowa, an NAIA school in Orange City, Iowa.
“At the beginning of this season I was ready to play anywhere, it could have been up in Maine, and I would have gone,” Irwin said. “It didn’t really matter that much to me, I just want to play.”
A two-year starter at Grand Junction, Tigers coach Robbie Owens said he expects Irwin to get significantly better at the next level.
“He’s a late bloomer, and his best seasons are ahead of him,” Owens said. “He’s the type of kid that’s going to continue to mature, and you’ll see him playing better football there than he did for us.”
Bradfield, an offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, was still coming to terms Wednesday afternoon with the fact he’ll be playing college football.
“Coach (John Arledge) told me I had a chance to play in college,” Bradfield said. “I never thought I was that good, but my coaches always believed in me and I felt like if they believe in me, I can do it.”
Arledge said he saw potential in Bradfield, and knows he will continue to improve at Mesa State.
“He’s got tons of room to grow and he will just get better as long as he commits himself at that level,” Arledge said.
Bradfield had interest from RMAC schools CSU-Pueblo and Adams State, but it was too hard to pass up the chance to stay close to home and play for Joe Ramunno.
“It’s going to be really cool to play for Coach Ramunno because he’s a legend around here,” Bradfield said. “You see his pics up with the quad squad (state championship teams), so it’ll be pretty cool.”
Other Western Slope players who signed Wednesday were Central’s Mike Ruble (Adams State), Rifle’s Jake Massey (Mesa State) and Joe Burgess (McMurry, Texas, College) and Steamboat Springs quarterback Austin Hinder (University of California-Berkeley).