Signing Day has become an annual event at Phoebus, where anything short of a state championship is considered an off year. The Phantoms fell short of that in November, but four players signed their letters-of-intent with Division I schools Wednesday morning.
Defensive end Mark Wilson (Cincinnati), running back Tony Pittman (Marshall) and linebackers Atavius Matthews and Richie Staton (both Old Dominion) signed their paperwork during a ceremony in the otherwise-quiet school library. Linebacker Drevon Badger signed an academic scholarship with Saint Augustine’s University, where he will be a preferred walk-on.
“We feel like celebrities here with all the cameras and flashing lights,” Matthews said. “The young guys being able to see this, it’s good for them. A lot of them have great talent, like (freshmen) Robbie Robinson and Terrell Toliver. They can do big things.”
Principal William Beverley called the day “a culmination of all your efforts.” Ann Stephens-Cherry of Hampton City Schools told the players to remember the day and build on it.
For Pittman, a talented back who was something of a recruiting question mark, it was a special day.
“I really didn’t know for sure what was going to happen, whether I’d be going to a junior college or D-I or D-II,” he said. “But I realized I had a chance. It’s a blessing.”
Staton and Matthews will be continuing their careers together at Old Dominion, which already has five former Phantoms on the roster.
“We’re winners, being from Phoebus, and that’s the best place for us to win and play high level football and get a great education,” Matthews said. “We’ll be with ex-teammates like Caleb Taylor, Paul Morant, and those guys.”
ODU’s move to the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly I-A) and Conference USA was a plus.
“Now, they’re with U.Va. and (Virginia) Tech,” Staton said. “And it’s close to home, so our parents can come see us play without having to break our necks.”