Callaway has four sign to play at the next level

Published 4:34 pm Wednesday, February 7, 2024

It’s almost unheard of for three players from the same high school to go to the same college, though that was the case Wednesday at Callaway High School, where four players signed to continue their athletic careers at the next level.

Zaiven Hart, JoJo Shuman, Trey Freeman and Camren Gunn all signed letters of intent Wednesday to play college football. Hart, Freeman and Gunn will all attend Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee, where they’ll trade in their Cavalier jerseys for the Orange and Garnett ones worn by the Scots.

Shuman will stay closer to home, moving on to nearby Point University in West Point. 

The four were part of a Callaway senior class that won 40 games, including a state championship in 2020, and three region championships. The senior class was 12-3 in the playoffs.

“I’m proud of you, and I’m proud of the way you represent the jersey at Callaway High School,” said Cavaliers head coach Pete Wiggins. 

Wiggins said the three guys going to Maryville are going to a great program. He lived about half an hour from there earlier in his life.  

“It’s a town a lot like LaGrange. It’s in the mountains,” Wiggins said of Maryville, which is roughly five hours away from LaGrange. “It’s a really pretty town, and you’re going to a great program. You’re going to a program that expects to win.”

He also talked about coaching connections on the Point University staff and how Shuman had been a target for the Skyhawks as an “anchor” of the Cavaliers offensive line.

“It shows that hard work pays off, no matter what size you are, especially being undersized. Making two all-state appearances. It goes to show that hard work can beat anything,” said Shuman, who played center for the Cavaliers. 

He said that staying close to home meant a lot because it means he’ll be close to his grandparents, who he thanked for getting him involved in football. 

“They’ve been there to give me rides back and forth to practice, just making it happen for me,” he said. “I’m really thankful for that.”

It was clear that Wednesday — signing in front of friends, family and teammates — meant a lot to all four players. 

“It’s a blessing. Not a lot of high school players get this opportunity, and I’m just glad to get this opportunity to go play college ball,” Hart said. 

He said that going to the same college as Freeman and Gunn will make life easier and add to his comfort level.

“It makes my day because I know I won’t have to dorm with a random,” Hart said.

Freeman said it meant a lot to him to have two teammates going with him to Maryville.

“What stood out was the community,” Freeman said of Maryville. “I’ve always wanted to be far away from LaGrange, get out and see new things.”

He played linebacker in college but will be making a move to safety, where he expects to be utilized in coverage and blitz packages.

“I love blitzing, so it’s going to be fun,” Freeman said.

Gunn said many see him as undersized, which motivated him to prove everyone wrong. 

“If I was going to be small, I had to make sure I’m quick and strong so I can stand out,” Gunn said.

Gunn said he was impressed at Maryville because when talking to the defensive line coach, he saw potential.

“I saw a lot of guys who look like me, so it makes me think, ‘Oh, I’ve got a chance too. I can go be great.’”