Three Conway football players announced they will continue their football and academic careers at the next level Wednesday.
Fullback Chris Patterson and offensive linemen Nate Turner and Thomas Cloyd celebrated their announcements.
Patterson, a two-year letterman, and second-team all-conference 7A Central superback, joins former Wampus Cats Breylin Smith, Austin Norris and Matt Cummings at the University of Central Arkansas. Scoring 32 on the ACT, he will be on academic scholarship and not counted in the athletic scholarship group.
Turner, a three-year letterman and an all-conference offensive lineman for two straight years, will join former Conway players Jack Pillow and Marquise Pleasant at Ouachita Baptist University.
Cloyd, a three-year letterman and second-team all-conference offensive lineman, signed commitment papers to Rhodes College, a Division III school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.
“It’s crazy standing up here,” Patterson said of being a part of National Signing Day. “It feels like three months ago, I was busing over here to watch the seniors sign their letters of intent. I was just a scrawny little kid trying to make it on a 150-person team.
“It definitely wasn’t easy. There was lot of weekend film sessions, workouts and eating peanut butter. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it by myself.”
Turner said football has taught him a lot.
“Not only, did I grow as a player, learning how to block and lift weights,” Turner said. “We were not just taught the fundamentals, but the simple things like a proper handshake and how to hold a conversation. I’m thankful for this coaching staff. I feel like they cared about me more as a person than a football player.”
Cloyd said playing for Conway left him with several memories.
“Every time my grandfather saw me, he used to say ‘may the Lord bless you and keep you. May his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you,’” he said. “God has been gracious to me in so many ways that I will never even know. He’s been a huge reason for why I am here today.
“The memories I’ve made during high school football will stay with me for the rest of my life and I’m proud to be a Wampus Cat.”
Conway coach Clint Ashcraft said the three players are representatives of a 2018 senior class.
“These guys that we have this year are tough, gritty, hard-nosed football players, who practiced hard and played hard,” he said. “Most importantly, it was so obvious; these guys had fun doing it. These three, among many of their brothers, were leaders, who led by example, whether that were in the locker room, in the classroom, and on the field during a game or practice.”
Ashcraft said these players helped the younger players behind them by teaching them how to be better players and how to go through the different plays.
“These guys knew their jobs and assignments so well that during practice, we were able to pull them out and put some young guys in,” he said. “I don’t know if they realized they were doing it, but any time a younger guy took their spot on the field during practice, they would stand behind them and talked to them about that play between or during that play. To me, that’s what leaders do. Nobody asked them to do that, they just did it.”
Ashcraft also said these players also played through injuries throughout their careers.
“But they were never going to let that stop them from getting on the field,” he said. “They played and practiced through injuries. You knew on Friday nights they would be out there. They took offense if you asked if they would be ready to go.”
Ashcraft also credited the players for not only being an athlete and a student.
“One of the greatest compliments your coaches can give you is how much you’re going to be missed in the lockerroom, film room, Sunday night pizza, on the practice field, in the weight room, in the classroom and on the field during Friday nights,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure getting to watch you all grow up the last three and a half years. On behalf of all the coaches on staff, congratulations and we can’t wait to continue watching what you guys do playing this great game.”
Ashcraft said there are a few more players who could sign over the next couple weeks.