The Duncan Banner
There is perhaps no bigger day for college and high school football across the nation than national signing day.
Two area football players took part in the annual ritual Wednesday as Duncan’s Caleb Longest and Velma-Alma’s Dallen Mercer signed national letters of intent.
Longest, a 6-foot-1, 247-pound, offensive/defensive lineman, signed with Northwestern Oklahoma State University, while Mercer, a 6-foot 200-pound running back/line, signed with East Central University.
“After four years of hard work, it’s a relief,” Longest said of signing. “Playing college football has been a dream of mine, so it’s a great feeling.”
The Duncan athletic office was packed with family, friends, teammates and coaches, all on hand to celebrate Longest’s achievement.
“He’s the epitome of hard work,” Duncan head football coach Jim Holloway said in brief speech to the crowd. “What people will remember about him is that he never missed a day of summer (practice or workouts). ... He proved that with hard work, anything is possible.”
Longest, a two-year starter on the offensive line, had an especially strong season at defensive tackle, racking up 72 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He was named a Duncan Banner All-Area First Team defensive lineman.
Mercer, meanwhile, was named the Area Offensive Player of the Year as well as a first-team linebacker (the position he will likely play at ECU). He ran for 1,976 yards and 23 touchdowns this season.
“It feels good knowing that people felt you were good enough to go play,” Mercer said. “It’s up to me now to show I’m worthy enough to be at the next level. At East Central it’s just one big family down there, with the coaches and the players. I’m ready to go in there and show them what I can do and hopefully get to play.”
The two area signings is half as many as the area saw last year on National Signing Day, but like last year, more commitments could soon follow.
For now, though, two area schools are celebrating their student’s accomplishment.
“We’re pretty excited that East Central came in and offered Dallen something,” V-A coach Greg Gothard said. “He should be a really good linebacker, and they are very excited to have him. We’re sad to see him go obviously, but excited to see that he’s going to carry on the Comet tradition. We haven’t had a lot of kids go play at the next level, so anytime we get one it makes us very proud and thankful we were apart of their life.”
Duncan Banner sports writer Evan Grice contributed to this story.