Fayetteville High School players recently signed to continue their careers as student-athletes.
History was made as FHS signed its first players to Division 1 football scholarships and to a Group of Five school.
“Signing this many players from a school with 385 students is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Coach Daniel Johnson. “This senior class started with nine players as freshmen and is going to end up signing seven to football scholarships. These guys have taken care of their grades and have never been behavior problems in the classroom.”
Johnson thanked the players’ families and their previous coaches who helped develop the student-athletes.
“This senior class has been a joy to coach, and they are leaders in the classroom and school,” he said.
“They have worked extremely hard over the last four years in the weight room, on the football field and in the classroom. Everything they have gotten is well deserved.”
Signing letters of intent on Tuesday during a student assembly, attended by the players’ families, coaches and teachers, were Aljarea Johnson, Dalton Chriss, Isaiah Thomison, Jaterious Derrick and Braxton Wilson.
Johnson is a 6’, 180-pound running back signing with Kentucky State. He also had offers from Bethel, Manchester, Graceland, Oberlin, Maryville, Sewanee, McPherson and Clarke. He was named The Elk Valley Times’ Player of the Year, Region 5 Co-Offensive Player of the Year and 1st Team Prep Redzone All State. He played in the East West All Star Game.
Johnson had 141 carries for 1,149 yards and 28 rush touchdowns for 8.36 yards per carry. He had 12 catches for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns, average 20.5 yards a catch. On defense, Johnson had 18 tackles, 6 tackles for loss and an interception returned for a touchdown, and as punter, he averaged 31 yards per punt. Johnson has a 3.8 GPA.
“The reason I chose Kentucky State was when I took my visit I really liked the coaches and meeting the players and trying on the uniform,” Johnson said. “It was a great experience.”
Coach Johnson said Aljarea Johnson has a great maturity level on the field. “He waits on the hole to develop,” he said.
Chriss is a 6’, 220-pound wide receiver signing with Sewanee-The University of the South. He also had an offer from Bethel University. Chriss was an All-Region 5 performer and voted a permanent team captain for the football team by his teammates. He had 25 carries for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns and 17 catches for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 23 yards per catch. On defense, Chriss had 12 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. He has a 3.9 GPA and an ACT score of 21.
“The academics and the campus at Sewanee was cool,” said Chriss. “They have a new coaching staff and
I want to major in wildlife and fishery so that sold me.”
“Dalton is our most improved player,” Johnson said. “He was one of our team captains. He will be really hard to replace.”
Thomison is a 6’3”, 239-pound linebacker signing with Memphis. His other offers included Army, Navy, Air Force, Tulane, Arkansas State, Eastern Kentucky, Howard, Furman, Tennessee State, East Tennessee State, MTSU and Austin Peay. He becomes the first Tiger to sign with a Division 1 FBS Group of 5 school.
He had 70 tackles, 2 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 1 interception return for a touchdown. On offense, he had 3 catches for 40 yards, 28 carries for 124 yards, 3 touchdowns and numerous 2-point conversions.
He was named Region 5 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, LB MVP Prep Redzone, 1st Team Prep Redzone All State, The Tennessean’s 1A-3A 1st Team All State, TSWA All State, TNFCA All State and a Mr. Football finalist. He was voted a permanent team captain by his teammates and played in the East West All Star Game. Thomison has a 3.8 GPA with an 18 on his ACT.
Thomison said he was drawn to Memphis after he took a weekend visit in June.
“I really liked being around the coaches and the whole team,” he said. “MTSU and Arkansas State made a late push but I felt Memphis was the place for me.”
“Isaiah is a high IQ player,” Johnson said. “He is the best player I’ve coached.”
Derrick is a 5’9”, 165-pound wide receiver signing with Cumberland University in Lebanon. He had offers from Bethel, Carson Newman, Maryville, Carthage, Clarke, Waynesburg and Culver Stockton. “I really like the campus and coaches,” Derrick said. “I took my visit late, in January. I really liked them.”
Derrick had 16 carries for 99 yards and 1 touchdown and 30 catches for 343 yards and 5 touchdowns. Derrick had 22 tackles and 303 return yards with a touchdown. He was All Region 5, Honorable Mention All-State Prep Redzone and played in the Nashville All American Bowl. According to Coach Johnson, Derrick is the strongest pound-for-pound on the team, the second fastest player on the team and the hardest worker.
”He is an explosive player and a deep threat in the passing game,” Johnson said.
Wilson is a 6’3”, 275-pound defensive tackle signing with East Tennessee State University over Mercer, Army, Navy, Air Force, Murray State, Culver Stockton, SE Missouri State and Tusculum. He becomes the school’s first Division 1 FCS football scholarship signee.
Wilson had 62 tackles, 8 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles. He was named Region 5 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive MVP Prep Redzone, TNFCA 1st Team All State, TSWA 1st Team All State, The Tennessean’s 1A-3A 1st Team All State. He was voted a permanent team captain by his teammates and played in the East West All Star Game. He has a 3.9 GPA and a 20 on the ACT.
Wilson took a visit to East Tennessee State University in December.
“I really liked the coaching staff and the players I met there and the campus,” he said. ”I felt a bond there. I also liked being up in the mountains as well.”
“Braxton had to be double teamed at the nose guard position this year,” Johnson said. “He lived in the other team’s backfield.”
“Overall we are going to miss these guys next season,” Johnson said. “They are a special group.”