St. Edward Hosts Annual College Signing Ceremony

Eagle football standout Mel Jackson with his parents Melvin and Shaunte. "It's a dream come true" says Mel about signing his scholarship to Youngstown State University.

February 1 was "National Signing Day" for high school senior football players around the county. St. Edward High School hosted a Signing Ceremony in its gym to honor not just its college-bound football players, but student-athletes from nine different sports. Parents, coaches, and fellow students attended the event on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. The only smiles larger than those on the athletes were those on the faces of their parents. All those years of washing uniforms, driving kids to practice, and nursing to their sons' injuries were rewarded with a college education.

St. Edward Principal Frank O'Linn, who was beaming with pride all afternoon, spoke at the event. "We're proud of these guys and all that they represent", O'Linn said in an interview, "these are fine student-athletes".  Many of the athletes have very high GPAs at St. Edward, with destination colleges including prestigious schools like Cornell, Northwestern, and the US Naval Academy. John Carroll University netted the largest number of Eagles with three signees (one each in football, wrestling, and golf). The University of Missouri signed two wrestlers. 17 of the 28 signees chose to attend college in-state, ranging from Lake Erie College to Ohio State University.   

Not surprisingly, football had the most of any sport, with 12 in total. This year's seniors contributed to two state championships in 2014 and 2015. Mel Jackson will attend Youngstown State University next year. He will play for Head Coach Bo Pelini, and joins a team that was national runner-up in FCS football in 2016. "It's amazing, it's a dream come true" said Jackson. "I've been dreaming about this since I was 5 or 6 years old." His parents Melvin and Shuante were ecstatic "We've been waiting for this day for a long time" says Melvin.  They are especially pleased that Mel will be close to home, enabling them to see his games in person.

Masen McManamon carried on a family tradition by signing with Cornell. He is the third McManamon to play for the Big Red. His 3.7 GPA at St. Edward demonstrates that he's ready for the challenge of Ivy League academics. Kevin Dever decided to attend Ohio State, where he will be a preferred walk-on for Urban Meyer. Kyle Payne will attend John Carroll University, where he is reunited with former Eagle head coach Rick Finotti. Finotti, hired last month at JCU, won the 2014 state title at St. Edward. Football signees also include Jacob Davis (Notre Dame College); Justin Herold (University of Dayton); Antonio Hills (Erie Community College); Kordell Hoover (Grand Valley State University); DeShaun Jones (College of Wooster); Tyler Radziszewski (Walsh University); Lorenzo Ritson (Baldwin Wallace University); and Jacob Sminchak (Limestone College). As of February 1st, there are still many Eagles weighing their college decisions.

Five wrestlers were part of the ceremony. They were introduced by wrestling Head Coach Greg Urbas, who has sent hundreds of athletes to compete at the next level. Jared Campbell and Allen Hart will attend the University of Missouri. The Tigers are a traditional Division I powerhouse, and are currently ranked seventh in the nation. Cade Hepner is going to Division I Old Dominion, while Vittorio Santillo is heading to John Carroll. Tyler Stepic plans to join the large number of St. Edward students that have attended military academies; his destintion is the US Naval Academy.

The Eagle baseball team had four signees, led by left-handed pitcher Quinn Lavelle. Lavelle has signed with Northwestern University, where he will compete in the Big Ten. "I'm going to be playing with a lot of good players" he said. His dad shared his excitement. "As a parent, you're just proud" said his father Bill Lavelle, decked out in a new Wildcat fleece. Baseball player Jacob Lozinski will attend Lake Erie College; Danny McGuire will go to Shawnee State University; and Jeff Santa selected La Roche College.

Eagle signees in other sports included Thomas Schmock, who will play basketball at the University of Findlay. "It feels really good," says Schmock, "it [Findlay] is a nice place that is really close to home. I bonded with the coaches there right away." He thanked Eric Flannery, his head coach at St. Edward. "He's taught me to be a leader; he's made me the best player I can be."  Luke Seelie, a golfer, will join the many Eagle alums attending John Carroll University next fall; Kevin O'Donnell (lacrosse) is going to State University of New York at Oswego; Logan Roth (rugby) will attend Bowling Green State University; Anthony Nauman (soccer) will attend Ohio Northern University; and volleyball student-athlete Phillip Margevicius will attend St. Francis University (Pennsylvania).   

Mike Deneen

Mike Deneen has extensive experience covering sports and community stories for the Lakewood Observer. Mike has been a Senior Industry Analyst for the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, Ohio, since 1998. He has appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, NPR’s MarketPlace and has been quoted multiple times in The Wall Street Journal. He has made multiple guest appearances on ESPN Cleveland radio. Mike also writes for Inside Northwestern, a website that covers Northwestern Wildcat Athletics. You can reach him on Twitter at @MikeDeneen1 

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 4:37 PM, 02.01.2017