Roundup: West Florida’s Espinosa commits to Air Force

Roundup: West Florida’s Espinosa commits to Air Force

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Roundup: West Florida’s Espinosa commits to Air Force

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Washington High players (from left) Perry Ford (Northland Community and Technical College), Rashawn Roby (Fort Scott CC), DeMarcus Robinson (Arkansas Baptist), Corey Montgomery (Minnesota West Community and Technical College), George McConnico (Arkansas Baptist), Reggie Dixon (Minnesota West Community and Technical College) and Nathan Ampadu (Minnesota West Community and Technical College) are joined by coaches Bob Schneider and Charlie Ward after signing day ceremony.

Washington High players (from left) Perry Ford (Northland Community and Technical College), Rashawn Roby (Fort Scott CC), DeMarcus Robinson (Arkansas Baptist), Corey Montgomery (Minnesota West Community and Technical College), George McConnico (Arkansas Baptist), Reggie Dixon (Minnesota West Community and Technical College) and Nathan Ampadu (Minnesota West Community and Technical College) are joined by coaches Bob Schneider and Charlie Ward after signing day ceremony.

The five West Florida Jaguar teammates pose for a photo after signing with their respective colleges on Wednesday.

The five West Florida Jaguar teammates pose for a photo after signing with their respective colleges on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Victor Hill signed with University of Central Arkansas on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Victor Hill signed with University of Central Arkansas on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Shedrick Robinson signed with Harding University on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Shedrick Robinson signed with Harding University on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Ricky Richardson signed with Coffeyville Community College on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Ricky Richardson signed with Coffeyville Community College on Wednesday.

Initially, Tino Espinosa was uncertain he wanted to commit to a potential appointment into the Air Force Academy.

He talked to his father, retired after 21 years in the U.S. Navy. He talked to his coach, West Florida High’s Harry Lees.

“From there, we just got the application rolling,” Espinosa said.

West Florida’s Tino Espinosa signed with the Air Force Academy on Wednesday.

West Florida’s Tino Espinosa signed with the Air Force Academy on Wednesday.

His decision made for a special day at West Florida High, which celebrated signing day with a cafeteria full of students applauding five players heading to college, including Espinosa’s appointment to become an Air Force officer.

“Tino… man, when he said he was signing (appointment acceptance) with Air Force, he became my hero,” said Lees, who has been the Jaguars head coach the past five years. “It was like, wow, that is so awesome… I couldn’t put into words how excited I am.”

Pensacola News Journal

Espinosa will play cornerback for the Falcons. He plans to major in business management with hopes of becoming a pilot.

“A lot of nice leaders in the world came from the Air Force Academy and I can see myself being one of those guys,” he said. “I feel like I am set up for success going there.”

Joining Espinosa in signing Wednesday was Adarius Purifory, who played only a half-game in 2015 before sustaining a season-ending injury. Also signing were linebacker Victor Hill with Central Arkansas, linebacker Ricky Richardson with Coffeyville Community College and safety Shedrick Robinson with Harding University

“I have been places where they didn’t know what signing day was because they never had anybody,” said Lees, the West Florida High head coach. “It has gotten to be routine here, not that each year is not special, but just to know what each of these kids are getting.”

Purifoy, projected to play receiver or defensive back, had extra reason for thanks.

“At one point in time, I thought I would have to go to a smaller school,” he said. “That was my dream to play D-I (division) and now I get that opportunity.”

PHS signs six to next level

The Pensacola High auditorium was packed to capacity with the focus on six PHS football players celebrating the biggest day of their athletic careers.

Standing over each player’s shoulder as they signed their letters of intent was Mike Mincy, gleaming with pride after his first season as PHS head coach.

“What we’re really proud of is the quality of schools these players are going to,” Mincy said. “We still have another five kids out there with offers and we are expecting more.

“Pensacola High leads Escambia County in athletic and academic scholarships, with $19 million last year, and principal (David) Williams does a great job of making sure we keep that up.”

PHS’ signees were led by Calif Gossett, who inked a letter of intent to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

For the four who didn’t sign D-I, Mincy is confident his players will have a great opportunity to grow in all walks of life.

Gage Miller and Brandon Bell signed with Webber International University, which Mincy said holds a highly-productive business school.

“Webber is a great program and they were runner up in their conference last year,” Mincy said. “94 percent of (Webber) graduates get offered a job starting at $65,000 or more.”

For Torrance Hackworth — who signed with Midland University — Mincy sees similarities to Webber.

“Midland leads the state of Nebraska when it comes to placing business school graduates into jobs,” Mincy said. “Midland’s facilities are phenomenal, and they are expecting Torrance to come in and play right away.”

Travonte Haynie signed with West Alabama under head coach and Escambia graduate Brett Gilliland, while Kenneth Greer signed with Fort Scott Community College.

“West Alabama offers a competitive football program and great academics,” Mincy said. “Fort Scott holds a rich tradition. They’ve had 27 players reach the NFL and they are supposed to contend for the national title this year. So we’re proud of Kenneth for going up there. He’s a young man that you might see playing on Sunday afternoons one day.”

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