National signing day is more than the final step in a high school athlete’s college recruitment. On Feb. 1, seven Homewood-Flossmoor High School students joined the exclusive club that is being a college athlete.
“These are exciting times for everyone,” Athletic Director Matthew Lyke said. “The journey begins in the next phase of their life.”
Five football players highlighted the night. Coach Terrell Alexander said signing day is always an important moment for his or any team.
“This means so much for the families and the program, to see these kids be able to go to the next level and continue their education,” Alexander said. “It’s a blessing for everyone involved. The program cherishes getting these kids to a place to get an education while doing what they love.”
H-F will send two players to Division I. Wide receiver/defensive back John Gore inked with Northern Illinois and teammate Luke Van Vorhees will attend the University of San Diego.
“It’s a lifelong dream,” Gore said. “Growing up, I didn’t know if I would ever have this opportunity, so seeing it today, it’s great to get the chance to go to the next level.”
Van Vorhees went from not playing organized football to signing to play in the Football Championship Subdivision in less than two years.
“It was really hard, really difficult in the beginning,” he said. “I think I tricked people into thinking that it’s easy to start late.”
Jeremy Thomas and Jesse Ellis will both play for Aurora University. Alexander said the pair’s graduation will leave a gap in leadership for the Vikings.
“(Aurora) gets two true freshman, but we’re losing our generals,” Alexander said. “When they arrive on campus, they’ll be polished and ready to play.”
Gore, who transferred to Homewood-Flossmoor from Thornwood, said the family environment of the Northern Illinois program was one of the main reasons he chose the Huskies.
Gore said Alexander, a Northern Illinois alum, didn’t push him in that direction.
“If you go to NIU, everyone around you wants you to succeed,” Gore said. “(Alexander) did whatever he had to do. He said ‘We’re going to get you to college’ no matter where it was. He was trying to support me.”
Gore played mostly wide receiver but also defensive back in high school. The track star will likely stick to offense in college, though he admitted that he’ll miss the other side of the ball.
“They see a lot of potential in me to go to the NFL so they want to develop me right away,” Gore said. “Whatever they need me to do to win, I’ll do it.”
Van Vorhees also considered the University of Indianapolis and Drake, as well some larger programs who were offering walk-on opportunities. But the southern California campus was an easy sell, for more than just the weather and scenery. He visited only a few weeks ago.
“It’s beautiful,” Van Vorhees said. “I clicked with the team and a lot of different people there. It’s just a whole new environment, a whole new adventure.”
The football plan for Van Vorhees revolves around development. Toreros coaches told him that because he’s still so new to the sport, there’s a lot of room to grow.
He doesn’t expect to start as a freshman, which is very rare for offensive linemen at the college level. He’s considering majoring in political science with a potential future career as a lawyer or politician.
“There’s a lot of time for me to get a lot better,” Van Vorhees said. “I’m going to have fun getting better and that’s what I’m excited for.”
Kamrin Cox was often the player running through holes created by Van Vorhees in the fall. Cox will tote the rock for Quincy University.
“I never say any school gets a steal but he’s a phenomenal player. He could be playing at any level right now,” Alexander said.
Cox said he feels like he should’ve gained 1,000 more yards during his senior year. He doesn’t plan to have similar regrets after his college career.
“This means a lot. It means I can further prove myself,” he said. “I feel like I left a lot on the table. This gives me a chance to work on myself more and build so I become a better player and actually achieve what I know I should achieve.”
Quincy’s campus offers fewer distractions than one in a more urban area might. That was a something Cox tried to find. He said he looks forward to being able to focus on football and his classes.
“(The Hawks offense is) actually very similar to the H-F offense, a lot of misdirection runs and getting the running back out to the slot,” he said. “Those are the things I’m good at, so it’s nice.”
H-F Volleyball’s Coleman signs with Thorobreds
H-F boys volleyball player D’Angelo Coleman was just a kid when former Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose tore his ACL in 2012. The moment stuck with him, though.
“(Rose) was my favorite player,” Coleman said. “He came back.”
In eighth grade, Coleman tore his ACL. He missed that season and then his freshman year was taken by the COVID pandemic.
“I came back thanks to my coaches and my family. I’m thankful for them,” he said.
Coleman signed with Kentucky State. He’ll study sports medicine. He wants to be a sports trainer to help athletes deal with injuries.
Pedersen to swim at EIU
Swimmer Peyton Pedersen rounded out the Vikings signing day. She’ll attend Eastern Illinois University.