On the first ever early college football signing day, Nation Ford Falcons had two players sign to play for Division I programs.
Kicker/punter Skyler DeLong signed with the University of Alabama, while multi-faceted player Ben Tuipulotu signed with Brigham Young University.
“It is quite an honor,” said Nation Ford head coach Michael Allen. “We are excited for them.”
Allen said other players are starting to make their college choices and hope to have four more sign in February on National Signing Day.
DeLong, 18, ranked as one of the top kickers in the country, said he narrowed his choices between Alabama, Clemson University and University of Tennessee. Army and Rutgers University also offered DeLong scholarships. DeLong originally verbally committed to Tennessee, but changed his mind after attending a summer kicking camp at Alabama.
“I liked everything about it (the school),” he said. “They are really good at football, and I want to be a part of that.”
DeLong had offers from defending national champions Clemson, but preferred Alabama over the Tigers. The two teams have played for the national championship the past two years splitting the games and are scheduled for a third straight game Jan. 1 in the national semi-finals as part of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
The one thing that helped persuade DeLong was Alabama head coach Nick Saban.
“I wanted to play for Coach Saban, because he is a legendary coach,” he said. DeLong plans to major in business management.
Tuipulotu, 18, did a little bit of everything for Nation Ford his senior season from playing at quarterback to running and catching the ball. He also played on defense for the Falcons.
Tuipulotu will be following in his family’s tradition and going to BYU where he will play with his older brother, Hank.
“I am really excited for the opportunity to play with him again,” he said.
Before he heads to Utah, Tuipulotu will take part in a two-year mission trip as part of his Mormon faith. He will be leaving in June 2018.
Tuipulotu said he is unsure how he will be used at BYU saying he may be at linebacker on defense or at tight end on offense.
“Wherever there is a bigger need, that is where they will put me,” he said.
Tuipulotu had considered the University of Virginia to connect with the former BYU Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall.
“I was planning a visit there until I heard from BYU,” he said. Tuipulotu plans to major in chemical engineering.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM