Reagan Seniors sign to their future football careers


Photo by Charlotte Turner

Reagan seniors on the football team join together with their head coaches after signing. The senior class of 2021 is the first group to sign for colleges in all levels of collegiate athletics.

Charlotte Turner and Anna Hunt, Co-Editor in Chief, Rooster Reporter

On Feb. 3, 10 seniors on the Reagan football team joined together to sign football contracts committing them to differing college football teams. That Wednesday was a National Signing Day for high school football players across the country.

“As a coach, this is what you want to see,” said head football coach Josh McGee. “You want to see your guys come in as ninth graders, work really hard in the classroom and on the field, and then have the opportunity to see their dreams come true.”

This is the first year that the Reagan football team has ever had players signing into every athletic college level. These levels include the Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and the community college level. 

“Every group that comes through, you build special relationships and bonds with kids,” said McGee. “This group is extremely special, there are ten of them, but not only these guys, our entire senior class too.”

Senior Zack Shaw, formerly a Reagan linebacker, will now be bringing his adept football skills to Greensboro College. Shaw’s grandmother recently passed away due to COVID-19 and dedicated his speech on her behalf.

“Zach has developed into our vocal leader on this team,” McGee said. “If we need anything said in a positive way, we know where it’s going to come from.” 

Another defensive player, senior Gavin Brandon, signed on to play football for Averett University in VA next fall. Brandon plays the positions of linebacker and defensive end. According to Brandon, what he has accomplished would not have been possible without the support of his teammates and coaches.

“He [Coach Smith] has given me the best opportunities; he has always helped me out,” said Brandon. “We needed our team to work together or else we would not have won a game. Without them I would not be where I am today.” 

Along with his football talents, Brandon is recognized among the football team as an exceptional student. He scored a 32 out of 36 on the American College Test (ACT).

Carson Keaton is unique from the other seniors, for he is the second in his family to play football at Lenoir-Rhyne. Carson will be joining his older brother, Tyler Keaton, on Lenoir Rhyne football fields. Both Keaton brothers are long snappers.

“He goes all over the country,” McGee said. “But, it is all about perfecting his craft.”

Senior Charles (CJ) Arnette signed on Feb. 3 to Greensboro College. Arnette is a linebacker for the Reagan football team. He is described by McGee as a player who “always has a smile on his face.”

“Never give up,” said Arnette. “Always push through adversity. At the end there will be a reward.”

Coming up on Duke’s 2021-2022 football season is senior Andrew Jones with a full-ride scholarship. As a member of Duke’s football team, Jones will be playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference league.

“Coach McGee is always on me,” Jones said. “Like 99 percent of the time- even in that .1 percent, he is still on me.”

Jake Pascual, a senior on the football team, signed to play as a walk-on for Wake Forest University. Pascual is the varsity center for the team. His mom, Lauren Pascual is also the team mom that organizes dinners and events for the players.

“I want to thank my teammates for always pushing me to achieve my best level,” Pascual said during his signing speech. “I want to especially thank my mom for always having my back and always supporting me.”

Senior Bryson Canty has already made his mark on Raiders history by being one of only three Reagan students to play football for an Ivy League school, specifically Columbia University. Bryson was both a wide receiver and a running back for Reagan.

This guy is arguably the most talented player that this place has seen in a long time,” said McGee.

Senior Tazhae Woods will be traveling the farthest from home than any of the boys. Woods plays both wide receiver and cornerback, and he will be attending Iowa Western Community College in the fall. 

“I tell people this: that Tazhae is the most dynamic player in the history of Reagan High School,” McGee said. “Outside of football, he set both of the North Carolina state high school track records for the 4×1 and 4×2 races last year. You’re talking relay records that have been in place since the 80s.”

Offensive guard Noah Brown decided to go another direction. Unlike Woods, Brown will be attending East Carolina University, an in-state school not too far from his home in Winston-Salem. 

“There is not another person in the United States in the 12th grade like Noah,” McGee said before Brown signed. “He beat the NFL record of 49 repetitions for the 225 pound bench press last week with 52 reps. It’s unreal.”

Our tenth senior unfortunately could not be present at Reagan on signing day, but made a special appearance over a video call. Despite this, Chris Joines deserves to be recognized for his accomplishments just like the nine other seniors. Joines played defensive back and scored a spot on the Army West Point football team. 

Regardless of the college or university these seniors will be attending or what they do after graduation, they will always be Raiders at heart. 

“I am very proud,” said McGee. “They are big parts of our program and they will be greatly missed.”