With four-star football recruit Tyrell Shavers already attending classes at the University of Alabama, the school’s annual National Letter of Intent Signing Day celebration was a well-deserved opportunity to recognize a pair of highly decorated athletes who have excelled in near obscurity due to the individual nature of their sports.
Jadon Johnson and Kara Eisenmann were both recognized after accepting scholarship offers from top NCAA Division I athletic programs.
Johnson, who finished fourth in the 400-meter dash in 2016’s UIL state track and field meet, signed a letter of intent with the University of North Carolina. Eisenmann, a three-time participant at the UIL state swim meet inked an agreement with defending Southeastern Conference champion Texas A&M.
Both Johnson and Eisenmann completed their letters of intent during the early signing period in November but were present at Wednesday’s ceremony to be honored along with other signees.
In all 15 athletes in six sports were honored at the ceremony, which took place at the LHS Auditorium. The event featured each athlete signing — or in Eisenmann and Johnson’s cases, re-enacting the signing — of national letters of intent surrounded by family and coaches.
TCU, Baylor and Michigan also offered Johnson full four-year scholarships, but the area’s top quarter-miler was blown away by the North Carolina Chapel Hill campus after visiting.
“Carolina was the first school to contact me and the first school to offer me so I wanted to go visit since I had been in contact with their coaches for about a year,” Johnson said. “Once I went up there, I knew it was the place for me. My goal is to run in the Olympics in four years, and they have the coaches and facilities that can help me get there.”
Eisenmann’s stop at the signing ceremony was a brief respite during a busy time in her high school swimming schedule. The three-time Academic All-American has been preparing for this weekend’s regional meet, where she hopes to qualify for her fourth trip to the state meet to compete in the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke.
“I’m feeling a little extra pressure this time around regionals and state,” Eisenmann said. “I know I’ll be competing with my new coaches and teammates keeping an eye on me so I want to put out my best times.”
Shavers, a three-year football letterman, graduated after the fall semester and enrolled early at Alabama to begin his college career. He did not attend the signing day ceremony. He headlined a group of seven football players who will be extending their careers in college.
The volume of football signees is in stark contrast to last year, when only two football players signed college scholarships. Coach Gregg Miller pointed to academic success and the players’ parents for being proactive in the recruiting process as elements in the greater number of recruited players.
“This is a representation of the hard work that the kids and their families have put into the process,” Miller said. “These are all character kids with great families. The parents have done a lot of legwork by researching schools, football programs, rosters and depth charts.”
Below is a list of the athletes honored at LHS’ National Letter of Intent Signing Day ceremony:
Myah Buhler — Oklahoma Christian
Hannah Curtis — Lubbock Christian
Brandon Barrows — Concordia – Austin
Kara Eisenmann — Texas A&M
Makayla Corbin — San Angelo State
Kaylee Rodriguez — Tarleton State
Katrina Jackson — Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
Track and field
Jadon Johnson — North Carolina
Khristian Lee — Northern Colorado
Ahmadric Pelican — Southern Arkansas
Tyrell Shavers — Alabama
Eric Jones — Arkansas – Pine Bluff
Jackson Richmond — Texas A&M – Commerce
Dekevion Brown — Oklahoma Panhandle State
Chandler Williams — Abilene Christian (preferred walk-on)