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Former area players take advantage of the early National Signing Day

The first experimental round of an early signing period for college football got underway on Wednesday and will last through Friday. High school and junior college athletes across the nation are able to put the stress of picking a school to bed earlier than February but for Oxford, Lafayette and Water Valley players they are choosing to wait another month and a half.

While zero area high school players elected to sign a letter of intent this week there were a few former players that picked their final destination at the collegiate level.

Early Wednesday morning Jarius Gooch got things started. The former Water Valley offensive lineman signed with Southeastern Louisiana to finish out his college career. Gooch — who graduated from Water Valley in 2015 — played his first two collegiate seasons at Holmes Community College.

While there he improved his skill set and also packed on about 40 more pounds. It helped Gooch get noticed by SELA as well as Alcorn State who was in heavily on him along with Georgia Southern who got into the sweepstakes late.

“It’s hard. It’s an everyday grind over there in JUCO ball,” Gooch said of being prepared for the next level. “I Just feel like (SELA) have a family over there.”

Gooch will enroll for spring classes in January and beginning spring drills with Lions. He will be play at the guard position.

Nielson, Harmon sign

It was also good news for two former Oxford players turned JUCO talent with Jacquez Neilson and Korbin Harmon signing with four-year schools.

On National Signing Day in February of 2016 Harmon joined Ole Miss’ ranks as a preferred walk-on then played for Pearl River Community College this past season. On Wednesday morning he signed with UT-Martin to become a Skyhawk.

For the past two seasons Nielson has played with Itawamba Community College where he committed two in 2016. The next two years he will play at Henderson State who he signed with Wednesday at Oxford High School. He will line up as a defensive tackle for the Reddies.

“I liked the coaching staff and the facilities are awesome,” Nielson said. “I can go out there and play and show out.”