INDEPENDENCE FOOTBALL ELIJAH ARROYO SIGNING

Independence senior tight end Elijah Arroyo recently signed his letter of intent to play football at Miami University.

For many years, the first Wednesday in February was one of the most anticipated of the high school calendar, when football players could make their decisions official on National Signing Day.

It was one of the most celebrated days of the year, as athletes celebrated achieving a dream, and college alumni high-fived about the future.

In 2017, the NCAA made the decision to reinstate an older policy of having an early signing period in December, allowing many athletes to enroll early.

Whether or not athletes decide on January enrollment is a case-by-case scenario, but several of Frisco ISD’s best took advantage of last week’s early signing period to ink their National Letters of Intent.

Last Wednesday featured 11 signees from five different schools, many of which were very highly-touted in recruiting circles.

Here is the list

Elijah Arroyo, Independence—University of Miami

Arroyo was rated as a 4-star prospect by 247sports.com and the 4th best tight end prospect in the country, choosing the Hurricanes over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Texas and Texas A&M among others.

Arroyo helped lead the Knights to their third consecutive playoff appearance, which ended in the area finals in a loss to Highland Park.

This season, Arroyo had 35 catches for 730 yards, an average of 20.9 yards per reception, with 14 touchdowns.

A year ago, he recorded 48 receptions for 648 yards and five scores as Independence posted a 11-2 record.

Braylon Braxton, Independence—Tulsa University

Braxton emerged as one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the state during the last three seasons and is rated as a 3-star prospect by 247sports.com.

After being named the district offensive newcomer of the year as a sophomore, where he accounted for 2,121 yards and 22 touchdowns, Braxton put together a monster junior campaign, compiling more than 4,000 yards of total offense. He completed 198-of-326 passes for 3,236 yards and 45 touchdowns, while also rushing for 861 yards and 11 scores.

The Knights did not play as many games this season, and Braxton was not asked to throw as much, but he still passed for 1,865 yards and 24 touchdowns with only four interceptions, and rushed for 817 yards and 12 scores.

He completes his Independence career with 8,890 total yards and 115 touchdowns.

Trace Bruckler, Lone Star—University of New Mexico

Bruckler is ranked as a 3-star prospect by 247sports.com. Despite playing alongside record-setting wide receiver Marvin Mims, Bruckler still compiled 56 catches for 828 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.

He stepped into more of a starring role this season and responded with 50 receptions for 656 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Rangers not only returned to the playoffs, but were set to meet Highland Park in the third round of the playoffs.

Drew Donley, Lebanon Trail—University of Cincinnati

A 3-star prospect, Donley is a two-sport athlete who is also a standout in track and field.

Donley had 18 receptions for 286 yards and four touchdowns before having his senior campaign cut short by an injury.

He enjoyed a breakout junior season, with 45 receptions for 641 yards and eight touchdowns, adding 12 carries for 148 yards and a pair of scores on the ground.

Caleb Ellis, Independence—Stanford University

Another 3-star prospect, Ellis tallied 40 tackles and three pass breakups this season, despite missing a handful of games.

Ellis put together a huge junior season, recording 84 tackles, with four pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

He also made a splash as a sophomore, with 30 stops, with three for loss, a pair of pass breakups and an interception.

Ryan Jones, Reedy—North Dakota State

Jones put together another strong season as one of the leaders of the defense, registering 48 tackles, 11 pass breakups and an interception as the Lions narrowly missed out on the playoffs on a tiebreaker.

Jones logged similar numbers a year ago, when he had 49 tackles, eight pass breakups and a pick.

Ryan Lamb, Lebanon Trail—Furman University

A two-time all-district selection, Long has been one of the key building blocks for a Lebanon Trail program that won one game in its inaugural season in 2018, three last season and posted a 6-4 mark this year.

Lamb helped the Trail Blazers average 28.0 points and 364.6 yards per game in 2019. They were even better this season, recording 395.7 yards and 34.5 points per game.

Chase Lowery, Frisco—University of Arkansas

The electric, do-everything Lowery is a three-star prospect who is a big reason the Raccoons were preparing to play in the third round of the playoffs against Aledo.

Lowery has recorded six interceptions, two of which he took back for touchdowns, to go along with 27 tackles, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

But that does not tell the entire story. Lowery also has 20 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns, 14 carries for 127 yards and two scores and also handles duties on kickoff and punt returns.

This season is no fluke, as Lowery did the same thing during his junior year.

Lowery registered 44 tackles, four interceptions and eight pass breakups and also catching 31 passes for 709 yards and seven scores. He also accounted for two touchdowns on punt returns and additional scores on a kickoff return and a pick-6.

Zhighlil McMillan, Independence—University of North Texas

After transferring from Denton Guyer, McMillan had a huge first season with the Knights during his junior campaign.

The 3-star wide receiver tallied 40 receptions for 826 yards and 13 touchdowns and added a pair of scores on the ground.

This season, McMillan had 10 grabs for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and added a rushing score, but was limited to playing in just a handful of games.

Jaden Nixon, Lone Star—Oklahoma State University

A 3-star recruit, Nixon is also one of the state’s best sprinters in the 100 and 200 meters.

That speed has carried over onto the gridiron, where he rushed for 821 yards and 14 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 262 yards and two scores during his breakout junior season.

Though Lone Star was hoping to play beyond this week’s regional quarterfinal game against Highland Park, Nixon had already compiled 127 carries for 749 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 266 yards and five scores.

Zion Washington, Reedy—Boise State University

A 3-star safety prospect, Washington made an impact on both sides of the ball for the Lions.

This season, he was a team leader from his spot in the secondary, registering 43 tackles, with four for loss, an interception, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Washington added 28 carries for 213 yards and two touchdowns and 21 catches for 260 yards and a pair of scores.

During his junior season, Washington focused more on offense, where he had 33 receptions for 531 yards and a touchdown.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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