Suncoast student athletes commit to play in college

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SARASOTA, Fla. – Wednesday was National Signing Day for high school athletes around the country. And around the Suncoast many local student athletes signed the dotted line with their commitments.

The day began at Booker High School, where Sam Proctor signed on to play baseball at Pittsburgh, and Marlon Mack decided to spurn UCLA and Louisville to stay close to home and play for USF and Coach Willie Taggart. “It felt like home. Coach Taggart is a pretty cool coach," said Mack.

At Riverview High, the school had 14 athletes signing letters of intent, the most in the school’s history. Golf was represented, as was soccer, softball, and football, with seven players moving -- including Sam Johnson to West Point and Richie James to Middle Tennessee State.

Maybe the most accomplished swimmer in Riverview history, Alex Katz, is heading for Michigan. "It's a crazy decision to have to make. It took a lot of time and thought, but now that it’s all worked out, I'm happy about it," said Katz.

"Coach Stobbs is a great person. I feel like it is a great home for me, and a great fit," said James.

While Riverview had the most ever, Manatee High had the most since 1984, with 12 signing and heading for college.

Trevon Walters is looking for immediate playing time at running back for a strong Missouri team. Michael Galati liked the Manatee connection with Willie Taggart and will head to USF to play for the Bulls. Offensive lineman Jake Stickler will go to Georgia Tech next year, Darian Dailey is off to Rutgers, Brandon Doyle will play for upstart Duke, and Brooks Larkin was initially headed for Army, but after a coaching change and some issues, he'll go to Air Force instead.

Defensive lineman Demarcus Christmas will be joining the national champions at Florida State. “I really liked it. Then I took my official visit, and then I loved the atmosphere, the coaches and everything. I feel that that’s a place that I will fit in."

At Palmetto, former Tigers star and USF star Mistral Raymond lauded the 9 student athletes signing for girls golf, boys and girls soccer, baseball, and football. Josh Hicks is headed for Rutgers after having 2 separate 1,000 yard rushing seasons.

Venice's Dane Dabney is headed to Stetson, Isaac Whitney going all Ivy League to Brown, Terry Polk is deciding between Norfolk State and Ohio University, while quarterback Dom Marino is a preferred walk-on at FAU. Maggie Flynn will play hoops at St. Leo.

"It's the best feeling in the world to make your parents proud, your family proud, all the community and all of your loved ones. It really feels great," says Marino.

Lakewood Ranch High had 8 athletes signing; 3 in cross country, 3 in girls soccer, a baseball player and Bobby Photos signing with Anna Maria College in Massachusetts for soccer.

Two other former ABC 7 Athletes of the Week are moving on, as Cardinal Mooney's Grace Casagrande will run track at St. Louis University, and Daryl Bell will play soccer up at North Florida.

Also, Anna Brusco of Cardinal Mooney is heading over east to play soccer for Florida Atlantic University.

Cross country standout Canaan Meester-Kitterman of Bayshore will run at Savannah College of Art and Design.