Long Beach Poly’s senior signing class grew to eight athletes on Wednesday, as five Jackrabbits signed scholarships on National Letter of Intent Day. The five seniors were celebrated with a small ceremony in the football film room. They are: Jalen Johnson (Lake Erie College), Tyson Bordeaux (Grambling State), Malik Brown (South West Oklahoma State University), and Austin King (Baker University).
Poly already had three seniors sign in December with Donovan Poe signing with Army, Wendell “WoWo” Moe signing with Morgan State, and Shea Kuykendall signing with University of Northern Colorado.
“It’s really exciting, it’s a blessing for these young men to have the opportunity to continue their education and play at the next level,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “We’re not done with this class yet, we’re still working on more.”
Poly typically holds an all-sports signing event on NLI Day but postponed this year’s by a few weeks due to indoor capacity limits, which were just recently lifted. Poly boys’ athletic director Rob Shock said they’ll host their usual ceremony some time this month or next.
The day might have been particularly sweet for defensive back Donovan Turner, who had been committed to Morgan State but held off from signing in December, betting that he’d get a Power 5 offer. Turner got interest late from UMass and Kansas State, and signed with UMass Wednesday morning.
“I was getting nervous at times, but I let God take over,” said Turner. “I knew it would play out in my favor, and I got a good opportunity to go showcase my talent a high level against top talent. Today was surreal, it was a real blessing.”
Bordeaux, a rangy receiver, had a few options on the table late and ultimately selected Grambling State, where he’s excited to take part in the HBCU revolution that’s currently underway. Just as exciting was the announcement on Tuesday that Grambling State would be offering a Name Image Likeness deal to all scholarship athletes on campus, a way of legally compensating players for their work.
“Grambling is a great opportunity as far as school and as far as football,” said Bordeaux. “I will say I’m also very excited to get paid. We’ve come a long way from not getting a full season my junior year, to now going to play on scholarship.”
Poly captain Jalen “Monster” Johnson said that Signing Day was a dream come true for him. Johnson was lauded by coaches and teammates as a consummate leader, as well as a fiercely intelligent and physical linebacker. But Johnson’s lack of size kept Division 1 schools away. He stayed the course, kept playing well, and ultimately signed a Division 2 scholarship with Lake Erie College.
“I just prayed, and God is good,” said Johnson. “It’s just about trusting the process, trusting my coaches. Everybody has a different time, everybody has a different path. When my time came I was ready, and I’m blessed to have this opportunity that I have today.”
Tight end Malik Brown said he was thrilled to sign with South West Oklahoma State University, a Division 2 school.
“We had to push through COVID, we had to find ways to practice and to work out when things were shut down, we really went through a lot,” said Brown. “We did it though–we made it.”
Austin King signed with NAIA program Baker College, and said the day meant a lot to him as well.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a freshman,” he said. “Seeing my family here, seeing them be proud of me, that means everything to me.”