H-F seniors reach college goal for NCAA careers in football

  It was a special day for H-F High seniors who signed
  letters of intent to play college football.
It’s the time of year when high school seniors and their parents start to show off new college colors — a Drake ball cap, a Western Kentucky hoodie, a  Northern Illinois track jacket.
There was an added twist for 10 Homewood-Flossmoor High School families on Feb. 7, when Vikings seniors signed national letters of intent to play college football. Several generations of family and friends pulled on college sweats and T-shirts to witness the start of the players’ NCAA careers.
“Whether you’re going to your dream school or not your dream school, to come to a day like this is very, very, very hard,” said H-F football head coach Craig Buzea.  “A chapter closes for us and another opens. All we ask is that you will be ambassadors for our program.”
In many ways, that new chapter is the same for football families as for other parents of college-bound seniors.
“It’s been super exciting. We’ve been to so many places and we’ve seen so many schools,” said Jeanette Blackmon-Wright.  Her son, Mario Wright, accepted a scholarship to attend Western Kentucky in Conference USA and play linebacker for the Hilltoppers. He is a three-star college prospect, according to the 247Sports website. “We’re comfortable with this school. They made us feel welcome and that they’re going to take care of him.”
The WKU campus is a six-hour drive from home, but that does not worry Blackmon-Wright.  Football weekends are made for long trips, she said.
“That’s OK. I’ll be there every weekend. I’ll make that drive. I’ll be there, no matter what,” Blackmon-Wright said.
Jeff Griffin, Sr. will have a shorter trip to watch his son Jeff Griffin, Jr. play ball as a lineman for Northern Illinois University in the Mid-America Conference. The younger Griffin, currently the top heavyweight on the Vikings wrestling team, also hopes to wrestle for the Huskies after football season.
“His mom wanted him to stay close. I was hoping that he would go someplace warm, to have that different life experience,” Griffin said. “I hate to see him leave, but we love the football program.” 
Griffin, Jr. will be joined at NIU by teammate Justin Hall, one of the top football prospects of the H-F senior class. Hall, an all-purpose back, was selected as an Under Armour high school All-American at the end of the season. He comes to the Huskies with a three-star rating by 247Sports and was ranked among the top 40 players, overall, in Illinois.
At least one H-F grad won’t even leave the area to play football. Vikings linebacker Justin Olokun signed to play for Robert Morris University in the South Loop. His older sister, Jochalyn Olokun, was at H-F to cheer for him on Signing Day.
“I’m really excited for him. I went with him on his school tour and it’s an amazing school,” she said. “Football has really helped him focus on his school work and make sure that he’s going to class, to stay on the team.” 
Isaiah Lampkins, a linebacker while at H-F, received a warm welcome from Trinity International in the Mid-States Football Association. Two Trojans coaches made a trip to H-F from the Deerfield campus to attend Lampkins’ signing.
Other H-F seniors making college football commitments included Marcell Ellis, who will play defensive back for Drake in Des Moines, Iowa. Vikings wide receiver Ryan Flournoy is going to Central Missouri, linebacker Tauru Robertson signed to play for Arizona Western, H-F defensive back Jermaire Ratliff will join the lineup at Minnesota State — Moorhead and Angelo Smith committed to play line at Highland Community College.
H-F Athletic Director Dan Vosnos praised the graduating seniors for their contributions to the football program.
“This is a first-class bunch of kids. They are leaving the H-F program in a better place than it was when they came here,” Vosnos said.

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