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National Signing Day was Wednesday, Feb. 14. It is an event regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the football Blackhawks were a big part of it. Four senior players signed scholarships and national letters of intent to extend their football careers into college.

An annual event since the 1980s, the NCAA decided to bring some order to a recruiting process that had grown in such scope and size to the point that it was becoming chaotic. Players may sign with colleges after that date and most will, but the best players usually sign on that first Wednesday in February.

Drew Winn signed with Pittsburg State in Pittsburg, Kan. Winn, the last of three brothers (Dayton and Dakota) who starred for the Blackhawks, set the single season rushing record with 2,285 yards as well as the single season scoring record by racking up 32 touchdowns in 2017. He was named the Northwest Arkansas Division II Player of the Year as well as making the Arkansas 4A All-State team.

Two former Blackhawks will be heading for south Arkansas together as Jakota Sainsbury and Hayden Holtgrewe will be playing for Henderson State. Holtgrewe was a three-year starter for Pea Ridge, catching 83 passes this year for 1,271 yards while scoring 15 touchdowns. The elusive three-sport athlete was one of the top kick returners in the state regardless of classification, and was a solid defender.

Sainsbury completed most of his passes this season, hitting 167 of 269 attempts to rack up 2,419 yards while scoring 28 touchdowns.His quarterback rating was consistently one of the best in the state throughout the season. A part-time starter as as sophomore, Sainsbury quarterbacked the team into the state finals in 2016 and made it to the state semi-finals in his other two seasons behind center.

The fourth senior to sign Wednesday was Jordan Witcher, 6'2", 180 pounds, who will be taking his talents to northern Missouri where he will play for Missouri Western. Although playing on a team with numerous stars in place this past season, Witcher still managed to catch 56 passes for 809 yards and scored 10 times. He was also a force on defense.

Henderson State recruited heavily in the 4A-1 Conference, picking up three other players to go with the Pea Ridge duo. William Hawkins of Prairie Grove signed with Henderson State as a 6'4", 305-pound offensive lineman with Gravette's 6'2", 260-pound Bailey Soule signing to play on the defensive side of the ball at Arkadelphia. Jon Faulkenberry of Gentry, a 6'1", 190-pound multi-talented athlete, will be a Reddie with his former conference rivals. Faulkenberry carried his team last fall, piloting them into the playoffs with his passing and rushing talents.

Interestingly enough, Pea Ridge had the most signees in Benton County, surpassing Bentonville's two signees (Adam Brazel, Easton Miller) and Bentonville West's three athletes (Michael Toney, Hunter Swoboda and Tyler Medlock). Gravette had another player sign as Chris Childress agreed to play for Hendrix College in the fall.

In all of northwest Arkansas, only Springdale Har-Ber had more signees that did Pea Ridge. The Wildcats had four players ink agreements. Springdale and Fayetteville had one football player sign with no players from Rogers or Heritage getting that distinction.

Though only a 4A school, the Blackhawks' success over the past few seasons has led to greater opportunities for its student athletes, and the locals have made Pea Ridge a recognizable force to be reckoned with no matter the classification.

Sports on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: Blackhawks do well on National Signing Day

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