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Prep Notebook: Tri-State athletes commit to next level

Apr. 28, 2013 @ 11:32 PM

Signs, signs, everybody signs

The past week provided a flurry of high school athletes signing letters of intent or commitment to play sports at the next level.

The most common name heard at all of those signings? West Virginia Wesleyan College.

The Bobcats got commitments from four athletes in Cabell County this week, and another three from Putnam County.

The Buckhannon, W.Va., school's football program picked up two players from Huntington High in Payton Johnson and Toney Kitts.

Both were part of the Highlanders team that started 0-10 their freshman year, and finished 9-3 in 2012, including two playoff victories. At one point during the past season, the Highlanders were rated the No. 1 Class AAA football team in West Virginia.

Johnson and Kitts bring the number of Highlanders who have signed to play college football to four.

"We were that class that made that transition of turning this program around," Kitts said Friday. "We all worked hard and worked together and I think it's showing with the number of us going on to play in college."

Johnson, a utility defensive player, signed with Wesleyan Thursday, while Kitts, an offensive lineman, signed on Friday.

"It's a great opportunity for me, and with me and Payton being two Huntington High boys up there, we're planning on being roommates," Kitts said. "To play college football, that's what I've been working for. That's a dream for any kid, and I'm blessed to be able to do that. At Division II, it's a great place to go for me."

Highlanders head coach Billy Seals said he has no doubt both Johnson and Kitts will be successful in their academics and athletics at the next level.

"Toney prepares himself very well and works very hard. He's a great technical football player," Seals said. "When you look at him, you know, he's not 6-foot-4, he's 6-foot, 250 pounds. But that 250 pounds is coming at you hard every play.

"Payton's a kid who developed physically very quickly, he came in as a freshman at maybe 140 pounds," Seals continued. "He's one of those kids who is just very good physically and works great in open space."

Deeper in the heart of Cabell County, two Cabell Midland High School students signed Wednesday to go to Wesleyan.

Alyssa Morris will be joining the Bobcats swim team.

Morris has competed for state titles the past two years. In 2012, she finished second in the 100 meter butterfly and third in the 50 freestyle.

This year, she finished fourth in the 100 breast and the 100 fly.

Samantha Smith from the Knights will be joining the Wesleyan tennis team.

This year,13 student-athletes from Midland have signed to continue playing at the college level.

In men's soccer, three of Wesleyan's eight recruits joining the program are from Hurricane High School.

Hurricane was the Class AAA state champion in 2012, and brothers Evan and Ian Miles both signed this week to join the Bobcats. Both were all-conference and all-state selections.

Wesleyan also landed the Redskins team captain Alex White, who led the team with 21 assists and 17 goals in 2012. White has been a highly-touted player for years, and has been a two-time all-state selection and has made the all-conference team three times.

GO WEST YOUNG MAN: Not everyone in Cabell County who signed with a college this week is going to Wesleyan.

In fact, Huntington St. Joe's Stephen Jenkins is attending college a bit west of there. OK, way west.

Jenkins signed to attend Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, on a soccer scholarship.

Jenkins, who has led the Irish in goals and assists for the past two seasons, said "It's the college of my dreams and it came out of nowhere."

He said he was looking at Wheeling Jesuit, Davis & Elkins and Alderson-Broaddus college when he was contacted by Waldorf.

"One of their assistants was at Davis & Elkins, and he's been recruiting back in West Virginia," Jenkins said. "I'm pumped about going there because they've got a great program in broadcast journalism, which is what I want to do."

Forest City, known as the Warriors, is an NAIA program in athletics.

Ben Fields is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or befields@herald-dispatch.com.