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Eleven St. Frances football players sign with FBS schools: ‘This is only the beginning’

St. Frances capped a football season in which it finished as the top-ranked team in the state by having 11 players sign national letters of intent Wednesday morning.

Surrounded by their friends, family and coaches, the players put pen to paper and are headed off to seven Football Bowl Subdivision programs. Together the team finished 11-1 and will send six players to the Under Armour All-America Game.

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Running back Blake Corum (Michigan), wide receiver Jamal Banks (Wake Forest), defensive end Chris Braswell (Alabama), defensive tackle Dominic Bailey (Tennessee), safety Jordan Toles (LSU), outside linebacker Osman Savage (Michigan), outside linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green (Michigan), offensive tackle Michael Statham (Pittsburgh), offensive tackle Ja’Khi Green (Maryland), defensive end Bryce Johnson-Maith (Buffalo) and defensive end Emmanuel Balogun (Marshall) all signed to play at some of the nation’s elite college programs.

According to co-head coaches Biff Poggi and Henry Russell, football isn’t the end-all-be-all for St. Frances players.

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“This is only the beginning,” Poggi said. “This is the first step of a marathon, not the 99th yard of a sprint. So, there will be a lot of hard work ahead, there will be a lot of diligence academically ahead. This will be a day to enjoy, but this will be a day to catapult you into the next day of your life.

“The idea behind this is that it’s not about football. It’s about getting to a point where you get your degree, where you get your advanced degree, where you become a professional person who’s making a difference in other’s lives and your community. That’s what this platform is giving you the opportunity to do.”

Among St. Frances’ Under Amour All-Americans are Bailey, Corum, Toles, Braswell, cornerback Luke Hill (Oregon) and offensive tackle Micah Mazzccua (committed to Michigan).

Coming from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and honing his skills at St. Frances, Bailey is excited to share one last ride with his Panthers teammates in Orlando, Florida.

“It just all came full circle for us,” Bailey said. “It’s just good memories to have and I get to play one more game with my brothers. One more game together and then we all go our separate ways. So, it’s just good to be around them for a couple more practices and one more game. That’s it.”

Corum finished the season as The Baltimore Sun Offensive Player of the Year and the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year. He had 172 carries for 1,438 yards and 23 touchdowns rushing as well as 13 catches, 226 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.

Being joined by Savage and Hill-Green at Michigan, he plans to get his college career started soon by beginning his enrollment next semester and to become the first in his family to take college classes.

“It’s been a blessing for real getting Baltimore Sun Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year — it’s been a blessing,” Corum said. “Signing today has been great. I’m the first to sign in my family ever. No one has been to college, so I’m just trying to lead the way for my sisters and today has been very special. I definitely worked hard for this.”

Toles will be headed to LSU to play football and basketball. He was convinced by Russell to get onto the field after the coach watched him on the basketball court. With having both football and basketball to look forward to, the safety has given St. Frances the credit for building a program and an environment where he and others can thrive.

“It just shows all of the hard work that everybody has put in to get where they need to be and the dedication that comes with it,” Toles said. “If you want to be big time, you’ve got to play with big-time players. So, this day just celebrates that.”

Signing day

Baltimore-area high school athletes signing a national letter of intent on Wednesday:

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Dominic Bailey, St. Frances, Tennessee

Emmanuel Balogun, St. Frances, Marshall

Jamal Banks, St. Frances, Wake Forest

Beau Bedard, McDonogh, Lafayette

Beau Brade, Maryland

Chris Braswell, St. Frances, Alabama

Jahmeer Carter, Archbishop Spalding, Virginia

Blake Corum, St. Frances, Michigan

Ja’Khi Green, St. Frances, Maryland

Aamir Hall, Mount Saint Joseph, Richmond

Nikhai Hill-Green, St. Frances, Michigan

Curtis Jacobs, McDonogh, Penn State

Kris Jenner, McDonogh, Columbia

Bryce Johnson-Maith, St. Frances, Buffalo

Cole Kirol, McDonogh, Kenyon

Josh Knapp, Archbishop Curley, VMI

Osman Savage, St. Frances, Michigan

Michael Statham, St. Frances, Pittsburgh

Jordan Toles, St. Frances, LSU

Ty Trinh, Calvert Hall, Villanova

Marlowe Wax Jr., Mount Saint Joseph, Syracuse

Email additions to this list to sports@baltsun.com

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