It was a long time coming but the historic day finally arrived at Fitch High School.
Feb. 1 was National Letter of Intent Day, which is the day high school football players could sign with their colleges of choice. For Fitch's Demetrious and Chris Davis and Will Mahone that day was anticlimactic yet still incredible. All three kids made their decisions months ago, but to finally be able to put pen to paper to make it official in front of a supportive gathering in the school office was outstanding.
"It just feels good that it's official," said Demetrious Davis who will attend the University of Pittsburgh and study either sales or business marketing. "I'm glad it's over with."
Austintown Fitch standout Will Mahone signed his letter of intent to play football for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish this fall.
Demetrious' twin brother was just as relieved.
"We can now focus on Pitt," said Chris who will also wear a Panthers uniform and definitely will study business marketing in college.
While his twin teammates will travel east, Will Mahone will make a small western journey. Mahone will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall concluding a recruiting whirlwind that included schools such as Michigan State and Penn State.
"At first (the recruiting process) was fun," said Mahone, "but it was stressful. I met a lot of people along the way, but the people and atmosphere at Notre Dame was amazing. It felt like the right place."
For three seasons, the right place for all three Falcons was head coach Phil Annarella's offense. Demetrious directed the high-powered spread at quarterback, Chris played receiver and slot back and Mahone made magic at running back. It would be easier to list the accomplishments and awards this trio didn't obtain in their tenure at Fitch than to list them one by one. All three are so cognizant of how playing in Annarella's system has helped them land Division I scholarships.
"It was great playing for coach Annarella," said Demetrious. "We couldn't have played for a better coach. He built our character."
Chris echoed his twins' sentiments and added, "We thank everyone at Fitch for their support."
Meanwhile, Mahone made sure to mention that playing at a Division I high school will make playing at a Division I college easier.
"We played great competition," said Mahone. "(Playing at Fitch) meant everything. I won't let our fans down. This is for them."
One of the major factors in Mahone choosing the Irish was that he was guaranteed to play running back. Depending on which internet website you search, Mahone was ranked anywhere between the fourth and 16th best running back in the nation and was overwhelmed when he visited South Bend, Ind.
"You have to see it to believe it," he said sounding like a member of the Chamber of Commerce. "It's a smaller area so there are not too many outside distractions."
Mahone also approved of Notre Dame's offense.
"They play a zone blocking scheme, which is good for a running back," he said. "I will be able to adapt to that. Plus they use the running back a lot in the passing game which I like."
The Davis' like Pitt's offensive possibilities too, but their dreams of running wild as Panthers almost were dashed before they signed their letters of intent. Head coach Todd Graham, who was Pitt's boss when the Davis' were recruited, bolted the Panthers for Arizona State after this season. The new Pitt leader is Paul Chryst, who was formerly the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Chryst is a fine man certainly, but the offense in Madison was something out of your grandfather's 1960 handbook on offensive football. Translation: a ton of running behind big blockers and very little flash. Surprisingly, that abundance of running didn't send the Davis twins running from their commitment.
"The coaching change doesn't bother us," said both Davis kids almost simultaneously.
It was funny to hear Demetrious and Chris finish each other's sentences, but that's how it is when twin brothers have so much in common. The brothers will be rooming together at Pitt, although one of them isn't too crazy about it.
"He's a little messy," joked Chris as he pointed at Demetrious.
Meanwhile, there is nothing messy in the way Notre Dame handles academics. Mahone is aware of that and vows to study in the classroom as much as he does in the film room. He will embark on a degree in business when he arrives at South Bend and notes how that program is booming.
"(Notre Dame) is on top of the world (in business studies)," Mahone said smiling. "Ninety-eight percent of the people who graduate from Notre Dame with a business degree get jobs in three months."
Six months is about the amount of time Mahone has left before he becomes a member of the Fighting Irish. That gives him plenty of time to work out and get in even better shape for football practice. It also gives Mahone a chance to brush up a little more on his Notre Dame football history.
"I never watched 'Rudy'," he answered embarrassingly when asked if he ever saw the uplifting film. "I do hear it's a great story. I would like to make my own story (at Notre Dame)."