By SAM GRUBENHOFF
NICEVILLE — Student athletes should take notice. The athletic programs at Northwest Florida State have gamed the system.
In what is becoming the norm in northern Niceville, 18 Raider athletes across four sports are set to matriculate to four-year schools with scholarships in hand after completing their stints at NWF State.
Six come from Steve DeMeo's men's basketball team, which made it to the NJCAA quarterfinals and compiled a 31-3 record. Another seven come from the Raider baseball team, which missed the playoffs despite a winning record. Four of Bart Walker's basketball players and one softball player from Jack Byerly's crew are moving on, too.
NWF State athletic director Ramsey Ross said he beamed like a proud father when each crossed the stage at graduation earlier this year.
"There's no better joy for somebody in my chair than to look and see them walk across the stage at graduation and to see them do great things at the next level," Ross said.
It's not the number 18, however, that most impresses Ross. Rather, it's the percentage of second-season participants who have received athletic scholarships to continue playing at four-year schools.
Ross estimates 90-94 percent of Raiders who have played their sophomore season across each sport at NWF State during the past four years receives a scholarship offer. Those who did not sign a scholarship, he said, have elected not to continue their athletic careers.
"Everybody has earned a scholarship who wanted one," Ross said. "I think that's the most important thing to me."
Tray Boyd – East Tennessee State University
Karim Ezzeddine – University of New Mexico
Andres Feliz - University of Illinois
Derek Funderburk – North Carolina State University
Kelvin Robinson – Eastern Kentucky University
Ja'Cori Wilson – Morehead State University
Trinity Baptiste – Virginia Tech
Ann Jernigan – Old Dominion University
Ashley Lee – University of West Georgia
Jade Lewis – East Carolina University
Sheala Brown – Thomas University
Corey Armstrong – Auburn University at Montgomery
Thomas Broyles – University of Missouri
Christian Camacho – University of Pittsburgh
Cason Greathouse – University of West Georgia
Brock Mathis – Louisiana State University
Ethan Routzahn – St. John's University
Grant Stewart – Troy University