‘Dream come true’: Five Callaway players sign to play college football, including Williams to Missouri
Published 12:39 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Five Callaway High School football players saw their dream of playing college football become a reality Wednesday when they officially signed with universities across the country.
Exavious Reed, Sam Williams, Elijah Gunn, Blake Sheppard and Hatavius Leslie have all been a part of one of the most successful runs in Cavaliers history, and they’ve now earned the right to continue on to play in college.
Williams, a defensive lineman, will play at the University of Missouri, which stood out among offers from other Division I schools all over the country.
“It was the best fit for me. I saw myself there and growing as a person and a player and getting better overall,” Williams said.
He’s already relishing the idea of proving himself against SEC competition.
“I’m already looking forward to it. It’s big boy football,” Williams said. “Everybody is grinding and competing, and I know it’s going to be really fun.”
Reed, a tight end, is looking forward to attending Southern Miss. He picked the Golden Eagles over offers from Florida Atlantic, Georgia State, South Alabama, Georgia Southern and more.
“They were always on me, for like months and stayed in contact,” Reed said. “They always called and checked in. When I went down there for an official visit, it felt like home.”
Gunn, a defensive tackle, will be playing at Southern Illinois.
“It is emotional. I finally made it,” Gunn said. “My dream came true.”
He said Southern Illinois stood out throughout the recruiting process.
“I love the coaching staff,” Gunn said. “The players are awesome. I just loved it. It was a great community.”
Sheppard will play at Brevard College in North Carolina, and Leslie will be staying close to home at Point University.
“It’s unreal that feeling of relief knowing you can go to the next level,” Sheppard said.
“To see your hard work finally come to be something means a lot,” Leslie said.
Leslie said it being close to home means family can more easily watch him play. Sheppard said Brevard plays a lot of nearby schools, such as LaGrange College and Huntingdon College in Montgomery, so his family and friends will get a chance to see him play.
Callaway High School football coach Pete Wiggins told the players to think about the time commitment so many people had made — practices, workouts, games, etc. — in culmination of this day.
He told them to thank their families, their coaches, and everyone involved in getting them where they are today. And he told them he was proud.
“They have been great teammates, they have represented our school and it couldn’t be a better day for those five young men,” Wiggins said. “They are going to great schools, they are going to work hard and I wish them the best.”
The five seniors who signed Wednesday were a part of a run at Callaway where the Cavaliers went 43-10 overall, 18-2 in region play and 4-0 against Heard County. They had a quarterfinal appearance, two semifinal appearances, won three region titles and won the school’s first state championship in 2020.