By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Nick Hardaway had a tough decision to make. Westmoore’s anchor on the offensive line had several scholarship offers from schools around the country, but none of them really made him excited.
Hardaway has always had a dream of playing Division I football and none of the offers he had received fit into that category.
However, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound offensive guard decided to take a chance with his football career when he was invited to be a preferred walk-on at the University of Oklahoma.
“Since I was little, probably like every little kid, I had the D-I dream,” Hardaway said. “I had a good opportunity to. It was my chance to go play Division I football and I took it. It was actually very hard. I had some great offers from some great places such as UCO and East Central. The money was there. But when it came down to it, I had to chase that dream.”
There is no guarantee Hardaway will ever see the field or get a scholarship, but he felt accepting the challenge was the right move for him.
“With their whole O-line situation, it’s not the best it can be,” Hardaway said. “Being a preferred walk-on, it’s a better time than ever for me to go in and make a name for myself. They told me it’s going to be a long road ahead. It’s going to be tough. I know that. But when it comes down to it, it’s my shot. It’s the best opportunity I have.,
“It’s my one chance to truly prove myself. If I do get it, it will be something I truly deserve.”
Hardaway signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning surrounded by his family, friends and the rest of the Westmoore athletes who were taking part in National Signing Day.
That included Addison Staggs, who signed with Central Oklahoma. Staggs was a playmaking safety for the Jaguars this past year and looks to do the same for the Bronchos.
Staggs’ older sister, Jade, went through the same process when she was at Westmoore. She signed with the Oklahoma State golf team three years ago and now is a member of the Sooner golf program.
“It’s a big moment in my life,” Addison Staggs said. “Seeing my sister sign three years ago, I was always wanting to work to that point. And it’s finally here. It’s a great feeling. UCO was close to home for me. I am a big family man. I wanted to stay close to home. I think I can do a lot of good at the UCO program.”
Moore High had one football player sign on the dotted line on signing day. Ethan Birdwell will be attending Bethel College in Newton, KS.
Across town Southmoore held its signing day festivities Feb. 6 with 10 letters of the intent signing for football, which was the most in the state. Most of its athletes had already made it known where they will be attending college. That included Jackson Stallings, who signed with Yale, and the state’s top recruit D.J. Ward, who is already enrolled at Oklahoma.
Ward was unable to play his entire senior season after transferring from Lawton in the summer. But he still enters OU as the top ranked player in their class.
“I am glad it’s done,” Ward said. “I am back to low status and just ready to play football again.”
Nick Ward was the last of the SaberCats to make his decision and he chose Wofford University in South Carolina over Air Force.
“I made my final decision yesterday actually, the day before signing day,” Ward said. “I was talking to both coaches and decided Wofford would be the place for me. It was between Wofford and Air Force. I just felt like Wofford would be a better decision for me. I felt like I fit in better there.”
Ward was also being recruited heavily to play baseball. One of the reasons he chose Wofford is because he will be able to play both.
“That was very important,” Ward said. “I really like playing both sports. And I feel like I can excel at both. This is the biggest day of my life. Basically picking my future. It’s a great day for me.”
Cody Earp felt the same way as he signed his letter of intent to Colorado State-Pueblo.
“It means a lot,” Earp said. “I’m the first person in my family to ever go to college. I’m going to try and graduate with a nursing degree and fulfill my dreams from there. It’s very special. God has given me the talent. Three or four years ago I thought I was going to be playing college baseball. But I just thought football was the road. My sophomore they had 17 signees in 2009. I looked at baseball and decided to go football. I really didn’t know where it was going to take me though. I’m Glad it took me here.”
Jake Spradling will be attending Northwestern Oklahoma State to play football. But a month ago, they were not even on his list of possibilities.
“It means a lot,” Spradling said. “I was kind of looking forward to it. Had it set on my calendar. I didn’t know for sure if I would be able to sign today. Things came out the way I wanted them to. God blessed with today to be able to do it.”
For Jonathan Martin, his signing with Southern Nazarene is just another step to his ultimate goal.
“It means a lot,” Martin said. “It’s a big step for my next goal. I’m not afraid to say it either. I’m going to go for it. The NFL. It’s a big step. It will take a lot more than it took to get where I am now. Everything will have to step up another notch.”