LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - From Dez Bryant to more recently, KeKe Coutee and Eric McCoy, Lufkin has produced some of the most elite talent in East Texas. Quarterback Kordell Rodgers is the latest Panthers to move on to the next level.
Rodgers was surrounded by his family when signed with Texas State Wednesday morning.
"It's been the goal since day one," Rodgers said. "That's always been the plan. I was able to get several of those and I just feel like my high school career went as planned."
Rodgers led the Panthers for the last two seasons. Rodgers also was looking at Arkansas State and University of Louisiana at Monroe on the Division I level as well as offers from McNeese State, Northwestern State and SFA.
Rodgers was not alone in his signing. Eight other members of the Pack signed letters of intent Wednesday morning. Rodgers said the whole day showed of a decade of work.
"We've all been together since city league that signed today, and we are all proud of what we have done," Rodgers said.
There was one surprise commitment at Lufkin. Rodgers was expected to be joined in San Marcos by receiver Dhailon Philips. Philips however changed his mind and signed with Trinity Valley Community College.
"Ultimately, I think we came up with the best decision for me and my family and the best decision to continue my career with," Phillips said. "I plan to bring hard work and a good work ethic. I hope to win a championship at Trinity Valley. They have a lot of championships, and I hope to bring a lot of championships."
Rodgers was not letting the change hurt his mood.
"I am proud for him, and it was his decision to make for what's best for him, and whatever he chooses, we are here for him," Rodgers said.
The other signings were defensive players Torrand Grisby and Ariel Olvera to Southwestern Kansas, Javante Ellington to Trinity Valley Community College, Kahlil Brown and Jadrian Taylor to Victor Valley College, Joseph Bell to Tyler Junior College and Samuel Weatherred to Midwestern State University.
The nine players all share a common bond. The players all grew up playing as kids and dreaming of one day wearing the purple of Lufkin High School.
"It means a lot to grow up with these guys since five years old and to know they are going to go somewhere and play football," Ellington said.
"I grew up with these boys since elementary school through high school, so I'm proud of everyone," Grisby said.
The players were also quick to point out that it was more than their efforts on the field that got them here.
"It's because of all my coaches; Coach Dixon, Coach Quick," Olvera said. "They made me who I am. They build me up, and now I am able to take my athletic ability to another school."
Todd Quick is losing a strong senior class, but he knows it is a reward they deserve.
"We'd take everyone back right now; I guarantee it, but they've earned the right to get to do that and go on and see other things," Quick said. "We hope they pull from what we have given them. We are very excited for them and that we get to watch them do that. The difference with our kids is that they don't mind hard work. Through hard work they get to go to these big colleges."