By JOEL COLEMAN
National Signing Day usually represents the end of the road for a high school football star's recruitment.
While several of the area's top players will indeed seal their collegiate plans today, others will take a little more time before officially determining their future destinations.
Among those with choices left to be made entering today is the Starkville Daily News All-Area Football Player of the Year, East Webster quarterback Ledrick Patterson.
"(Deciding) if I want to play football or basketball," said Patterson in a text message to the SDN Monday night.
It seems as though Patterson has options both ways. If he chooses the gridiron route, Holmes Community College is a likely destination.
As for the hardcourt, both East Mississippi Community College and Itawamba Community College were scheduled to visit Cumberland on Tuesday night to witness Patterson lead the East Webster basketball team against West Lowndes according to Wolverines head football coach Jimmy Carden.
It remains to be seen where Patterson will land, or what sport he'll play when he gets there, but one thing is certain – Patterson isn't alone when it comes to having to make a decision.
Several other area players find themselves contemplating their futures as of today with players such as Starkville Academy fullback/linebacker Matt Ward and Eupora offensive/defensive lineman Josh Woodard undecided as of Tuesday night.
ICC has been looking to attain Woodard's services according to Eupora head coach Junior Graham, but whether or not Woodard will sign today is unclear.
SA head coach Jeff Terrill said there is no timetable for Ward's pick.
With indecision all around, Starkville High boasts a contingent of signees that will put pen to paper today.
Amongst the Yellowjackets who will sign today is quarterback Jaquez Johnson.
Johnson had received interest from the University of Memphis and other Division I programs, but after battling through cartilage damage in his shoulder, Johnson said he's likely to sign with EMCC.
"It gives me more time to get ready," said Johnson. "I've got to get my shoulder back healthy. Also, I get to play probably on the best junior college team in Mississippi, so it's still exciting."
Johnson said both Memphis and Louisiana Tech are still possibilities after EMCC.
Other Jackets slated to sign with EMCC today are offensive lineman Jarrod Atterberry and linebacker D.J. Jordan.
Starkville running back Garrett Smith is expected to ink with Northeast Mississippi Community College, while Prinston Henderson plans to join the NAIA's William Penn University located in Oskaloosa, Ia.
As reported last month in the SDN, Starkville offensive lineman Chris Prater and tight end Martavius Foster are both verbally committed to four-year programs and say they will honor those commitments today.
Prater would join the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, while Foster heads to Tennessee State University.
Both Prater and Foster committed to their respective destinations after campus visits.
"(The visit) went very well and went better than I anticipated," said Prater of his trip to the school in the southern part of Louisiana. "I didn't know I would find a school that would meet everything on my list so soon.
"They answered all of the questions I was looking for in a university. Their academics are top of the line and that's very important to me because I want to go into electrical engineering. It was just a good visit all the way around."
Foster found similar satisfaction in Nashville at TSU.
Aside from being pleased by the education he'd receive, Foster liked the Tigers' offensive plans.
"What really sold me is they run a pro-style offense with a lot of tight end/running back sets," said Foster. "As a tight end, I like catching the ball and blocking so it intrigued me."
Two other area players are also expected to sign today.
Eupora offensive lineman/defensive lineman Bobby Hill will seal his future with Holmes Community College according to Graham, while West Oktibbeha's Josh Poe says he'll be joining Starkville's Johnson, Atterberry and Jordan at EMCC.
Poe, who broke his fibula and missed the majority of the 2010 season, says he will join the Lions as an athlete and looks forward to playing with EMCC while he enjoys the community college atmosphere.
"It lets me adjust to college life," said Poe. "It's not a big school. I really liked it on the visits I've been on. They offer a lot."
The only other player in the SDN's coverage area expected to sign with a program today is Ackerman's John Cummings.
Cummings, a multiple-position athlete, missed most of the Indians' 2010 season due to school-related issues.
Still, Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger confirmed that Cummings, who was a key component during the Indians' 2009 run to the Class 2A title game, will sign with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
A player at a school from outside the coverage area, but with local ties is Winston Academy's Parker Jones, who is expected to ink with East Central Community College this morning.