Six Conway Wampus Cats signed their letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level.
Two will be going to the University of Central Arkansas, two will be heading to Russellville to go to Arkansas Tech and two will be going out of state.
Tight ends Slayde Smith and Haze Denton will be staying in Conway and will become a Bear, while linebacker Dewayne Smith and defensive lineman Korlin McKinney will go to Arkansas Tech.
Linebacker Reed Hughes will head to Auburn University as a preferred walk-on, while offensive lineman Rob Scott flipped from Ole Miss to Florida State and will join former UCA Bear and new Florida State head coach Mike Norvell.
Each guy stood up and gave a speech, thanking their families, friends and coaches.
“I have so many blessing and good people in my life,” Slayde Smith said. “I can’t thank God enough. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder and that’s not going anywhere soon. It’s great to be a Wampus Cat and now a Bear. Go Bears.”
McKinney is thankful for his teachers, coaches, family and friends along the way.
“I want to thank my friends and family, the coaching staff and my teachers,” he said. “I want to give a big shout out to my coaches for pushing me at my highest and my lows. I want to give a shout out to the man everyone knows as detective Scott. That’s my dad, by the way. My right-hand man, my coach, my best friend and more.
“I want to give a special thanks to my beautiful mother for all the camps and how she helped me in so many ways and helping me academically. If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here. I want to say thank you to my brother Tanner for always encouraging me, making me laugh when I’m down or I’m in trouble. My friends/teammates, I want to give them a thanks as well. I want to say thank you for being there for me, making me laugh and helping me get through practice and get 10 times better.
“I know the younger guys are going to do great things. I want to come back and see you guys up here next year. For coach (Clint) Ashcraft, (Keith) Fimple and coach (Greg) Hughes, you have been like a father figure to me. Coach (Will) Frazier, my dog, but also my coach, you have taught me many things like pride and integrity. I want to give a big shout out to Mrs. Kim (Hughes). You helped me find a great family and a great home. To be great friends with an awesome coach and your son Reed. You will truly be missed. Six legs forever a Wampus Cat.”
Denton fought tears as he thanked his family and friends.
“I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Without him, there is no way I would be here right now. I would also like to thank my friends and family for coming to multiple games whether it was rainy and cold or blazing hot. You all sat through it. You sacrificed a lot to be there.
“I would also like to thank my grandad for showing me that this DI football dream is possible. Growing up hearing all the stories of him in Oklahoma made me decide to at a young age this is what I want to do. I want to thank my coaches. All of you have impacted my life and my journey. In particular, coach (Marquise) Rogers, you have been an encouraging coach. I want to thank coach Rainey.
“I want to thank coach Fimple for stepping up when we didn’t know what our coaching situation was going to be. It’s been fun seeing you transform into a Wampus Cat. All of our coaches saw potential in us and have helped us pull it out. I want to thank my siblings for having the two loudest girls in the stands and my brother that is thousands of miles away. I would like to thank my parents. They have made sacrifices to help put me in this position when maybe financially it wasn’t the best for our family. They did what they could to put me in this position. I can’t thank them enough.”
Dewayne Smith was not only thankful but also gave some inspiration.
“I want to thank the man above,” he said. “Without Him, none of this would be possible. Mom and dad, thank you for always pushing me and helping me be the man I am. You guys are the perfect role models and the best parents I could ever ask for. Thank you guys for all the time and effort. To my brothers, thank you for being my best friends, my motivation to be the best role model I can be for y’all. I will always be there to help you both. I want to thank all my coaches.
“I want to thank you guys for believing in me and pushing me to be the best I can be. Coach Hughes, thank you for being someone I aspire to be. Thank you for being someone I can call and will have no doubt that you’ll pick up. Thank you for being someone that I can talk to about anything and for believing in me, not only as a football player and the man I’m trying to become.
“I’ll never forget two summers ago when you called me out to go in the first huddle. You knew I had no clue what was going on, but you put me in anyway. Your words were, ‘are you ready?’ I said, ‘of course, coach.’ He looked me in the eye and said, ‘son, I believe in you. All you have to do is believe in yourself.’ I love you, coach Hughes. To Conway, thank you for all the support. There’s nothing like playing in front of all of you. To my teammates, thank you for always being there for me and pushing me to be the best I can be. To the next athletes coming up, chase your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Stay focused and everything will happen the way it’s supposed to.”Reed Hughes talked about his family after the loss of his mother Kim during football season due to a battle of cancer.
“I’m truly blessed. God has blessed me immensely with the family that I have and the friends that I have in my life. He’s the only reason I’m here today. I can’t thank Him enough. I want to start off thanking my coach, who is my best friend, my mentor and happens to be my father. We’ve been through a lot as a family and there were times where it was really hard, but on the field and at home, he stayed the same. He was my rock and taught me everything I know. I can’t thank him enough.
“The other person at that table is my beautiful sister. She has been the strongest person I know. No matter the situation, she is always on her toes. She will do anything for me. I can’t thank her enough. To my teammates, thank you for giving me a reason to practice my hardest and striving to be the best leader I can be. I can’t thank Conway enough for always being there for me and backing me in every situation. Although I’m losing two legs to become a Tiger, I’m always going to be a Wampus Cat. War Eagle.”
Scott, an offensive lineman that originally committed to Ole Miss, is now headed to Florida State also thanked his family.
“I want to thank God for blessing me with my health, strength and guiding me through this process,” he said. “I want to thank my mother for the sacrifice and support. She has always believed in me and encouraged me to be a better man. I especially appreciate her telling me how trash I am after every football game and keeping me going. Thank you Savannah for getting on my nerves and being right there for every game. Thanks dad for telling me how proud I made you and for believing in me. I appreciate all my family and friends throughout my life. The support has helped me along the way. Finally, I want to thank all the coaches for guiding me and training me and believing in me that I can become a good man.”