Daylin Beach is used to running behind the big bodies of Nevan Johnson, Alec Risner, Austin Manis and Mac Boggs.
On Wednesday, Beach stood alongside his four Raceland teammates as they each inked letters of intent on college football national signing day.
Friends, family, administrators and coaches gathered for the ceremony in the Raceland-Worthington High School library as each Ram took his turn with the pen.
Their destinations are as follows: Beach to Morehead State University, Johnson to Georgetown College, Boggs to Georgetown, Manis to Kentucky Christian University and Risner to Tiffin University.
“All five of these guys worked their tails off to put themselves in this position, not only in the weight room and on the field, but in the classroom, too,” said Raceland coach T.J. Maynard.
All five played instrumental roles in helping propel Raceland football to new heights this past season.
The Rams went 11-3 and achieved their first regional championship in program history by beating Pikeville, 14-3, on Nov. 22 in Raceland. They fell to Williamsburg in the state semifinals the following week. Raceland also reached 500 wins in 2013.
Beach was named All-Area Small School Co-Player of the Year after a tremendous season that saw him rush for 1,388 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also amassed more than 300 yards receiving.
Maynard noticed a different brand of determination in all five of the college signees this past winter, starting with Beach.
“That’s when Daylin decided he wanted to play at the next level,” Maynard said. “He worked on his body to be durable during the season, to be bigger, faster and stronger.”
The four linemen attended various combines and camps throughout the summer, said Maynard. The former University of Kentucky offensive linemen annually takes his line to the Eastern Kentucky University Down and Dirty Lineman Camp.
“That’s a great place for them to get exposure, where they can be seen not just on film,” Maynard said.
Risner (6-foot-1, 285 pounds) made hay mostly on the defensive side. As an end, Risner exploded past opposing offensive fronts to tally team-highs in tackles and tackles for loss.
Tiffin is located in northern Ohio, near Findlay.
“They liked my size and speed,” Risner said. “I like the coaches, plus they have cool jerseys and gear and stuff.”
Risner said he didn’t think he could play college football until he began visiting schools this past October.
Manis (6-2, 240) chose KCU because of the Christian atmosphere, he said. The 4-year-old stadium was also alluring.
Manis said he enjoyed the opportunity to share Wednesday’s moment with teammates.
“Not a lot of people get to sign with their brothers,” he said.
Manis will play against two of those “brothers” this coming fall, when KCU clashes with Georgetown.
For Boggs (6-4, 250), Georgetown was the sole school on his list.
“It’s like Raceland,” he said. “Small school, nice people, good program.”
Georgetown went 7-4 overall and 5-1 in the Mid-South Conference last season. The Tigers have won three NAIA national titles (1991, 2000, 2001).
Johnson (6-4, 290) said Georgetown’s rich football tradition baited him, but the academics hooked him. He added that he was “relieved” to put the recruiting process behind him.
“It’s rewarding,” he said. “After years and years of working, from JFL all the way through, it’s nice to get rewarded for hard work. It’s nice to see these guys (teammates) get rewarded as well.”
Boggs and Johnson will both likely be asked to play offensive line for the Tigers. Johnson led the Rams in pancakes in each of the past three seasons.
Johnson said the accompaniment of Boggs is “an added bonus.”
Another added bonus? Colors won’t change.
“Honestly, I’ve been wearing these colors for 13 years, and I can’t see myself wearing anything other than orange and black.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.