A recruiting roller coaster ride for three of the Baltimore area's highest profile football recruits, Franklin's Patrick Allen, Gilman's Kai Locksley and Calvert Hall's Lawrence Cager, finally evened out on National Signing Day.
Allen, an offensive lineman, was set on Georgia until the Bulldogs got a new offensive line coach. Quarterback Locksley committed to Florida State but the Seminoles had a lot of quarterbacks commit and Texas needed one. Wide receiver Cager picked Miami but still wavered between the Hurricanes and Alabama.
By Wednesday morning, they had to make up their minds once and for all. Allen, Locksley and Cager were among dozens of Baltimore area football and soccer players signing national letters of intent to receive athletics scholarships.
The only one to save his announcement until signing day, Allen opted to stick with Georgia. Locksley said Monday he would flip to Texas. Cager kept his commitment to Miami.
Allen, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound All-Metro offensive tackle, considered flipping his commitment to Tennessee or Oklahoma, but the decision became much easier once he talked with new Georgia offensive line coach Rob Sale.
"When I decommitted it wasn't because of the school, it was because coach [Will] Friend had left and I didn't want to be coached by somebody I didn't know. I just took my time and I was being fair. I let Georgia get a new offensive coordinator and a new offensive line coach. All together, I got to know them and I took it from there," said Allen, a four-star Rivals.com recruit and the All-State Offensive Player of the Year after helping Franklin to its second straight Class 3A state title last fall.
For Locksley, signing with Texas ended a tug-of-war between the Longhorns and Florida State.
A 6-foot-4, 205-pound Rivals.com four-star recruit, Locksley set social media afire when he took an official visit to Texas last month, and the Longhorns continued to gain ground on Florida State.
He committed to the Seminoles in July, but two other highly-rated quarterbacks committed on the same day. In the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game, Locksley played wide receiver and made a key catch, but made it clear afterward he wanted to play quarterback. He'll apparently get his chance at Texas.
"The plan that the Texas staff had for me going into it and after signing day, they really wanted me to get acclimated fast to the system and really have a hot chance of being the guy Day 1," said Locksley, who led Gilman to a share of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship last season. "The quarterback is a position that they're struggling at right now, and they need a guy to come bring the fire and be a leader and bring that offense back to where it was, so that opportunity and the support and the love that they showed me really helped with the commitment."
When Cager committed to Miami on national television during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Jan. 3, he still wasn't certain he would end up there. Alabama still looked appealing.
Rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Cager caught a touchdown pass in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. During the live NBC broadcast, he announced his commitment by picking a Miami hat over those from Alabama, Georgia and Virginia Tech.
Since then, his prolific presence on Twitter worked up fans from Miami as well as other programs who thought their teams might be in the running for the 6-foot-5, 200-pound wide receiver.
"It also came down to them on signing day — just praying on it, going to sleep on it, thinking about it, asking family and friends, 'Which one should I go to? Which one's the better move?' At the end of the day, I really think Miami fit my personality better," he said. "I'm a guy that likes to have fun and it suits my family, as well, with a top-notch education as well as playing top-notch football."
He finally ended a long recruiting process by signing his letter of intent Wednesday afternoon.
"It felt great, very surreal," Cager said. "I've been dreaming about this since I was a little boy. I've been telling my dad 'no matter what sport, I'm going to sign and get a free scholarship anywhere,' so signing and earning four years of school is a blessing."
Many other players who signed never wavered from their original commitments, including two All-Metro linemen , McDonogh's Ellis McKennie III (Maryland) and Glenelg's David Robbins (Florida State) who committed early.
Franklin's Adams twins, quarterback Jacquez and cornerback Jordan, committed to West Virginia in February and have been Mountaineers ever since.
"No second thoughts," they said in unison after Wednesday morning's signing ceremony.
"It's the best fit for us," added Jordan Adams. "West Virginia is loaded with Baltimore players. We have a chance, possibly, to make big things happen there and … I'm just happy I can be with my little brother."
Gilman All-Metro athlete Jelani Roberts and All-Metro cornerback Alonzo Mayo, who have played together and been best friends since they were 10, signed with Northwestern. Greyhounds safety Robert Branch and lineman Jahee Jackson will also play together at James Madison.
Chris Gavin, who set Carroll County's all-time single-season rushing record last season, signed with Virginia Military Institute Wednesday, confirming an oral comittment he made this month.
The Sun's All-Metro Players of the Year didn't make up their minds until the past few days, but both signed Wednesday. Howard defensive end Winston DeLattiboudere III signed with Minnesota and Oakland Mills quarterback David Pindell with South Carolina State.