The Prestonwood Christian football team has solidified itself among the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools elite, and four big reasons why were recognized on Wednesday.
In front of a packed gymnasium, clad in family members, classmates and teammates, the Lions celebrated the achievements of four senior student-athletes who earlier in the day signed national letters of intent and finalized their commitments to play college football: Austin Stogner (Oklahoma), Solomon Turner (Baylor), Virdel Edwards (Iowa State) and Jonah Brewster (Louisiana Tech).
“It’s always good to see the families and friends join us to celebrate these young men for what they’ve accomplished individually and with our football team,” said Chris Cunningham, Prestonwood head coach, while addressing the crowd at Wednesday’s ceremony.
With the four signees seated at tables in the gym, Cunningham commented on the value of each player to the Lions’ program, mixing in stories that ranged from Brewster and Stogner battling it out in the trenches during the early weeks of practice, to Edwards being told he couldn’t wear what the coach referred to as “goggle-sized” glasses while playing cornerback as a seventh-grader.
In the years since, Prestonwood has enjoyed no shortage of success with those upperclassmen, highlighted by TAPPS Division I state championships in 2015 and 2017.
“I’ve been [at Prestonwood] since preschool,” Stogner said. “This place has taught me so much and it feels great to be able to finish it off here.”
With his senior season concluded, Stogner will head just a few hours north to Norman, Okla., as one of the prominent recruits in an Oklahoma recruiting class that includes fellow blue-chippers like Allen receiver Theo Wease and Hebron receiver Trejan Bridges – both longtime friends of Stogner, dating all the way back to their days on the youth basketball circuit.
Stogner will join those two at OU after verbally committing to the reigning Big 12 champions in June 2017. That didn’t deter other powerhouse programs from offering the highly touted tight end, but Stogner, who will play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 5, stood firm in his pledge to don the crimson and cream next fall.
“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been committed to OU for a while, so it’s good to finally get it on paper,” Stogner said.
An all-state first-team selection at tight end, Stogner caught 50 passes for 691 yards and six touchdowns while also starring at defensive end during his senior campaign. Joining him on the all-state first team was Edwards, renowned for his work in the secondary. The cornerback totaled 37 tackles, two interceptions and nine passes defensed, and he looks to bring that same energy to Iowa State.
“I’ve worked very hard for this and am still working hard. I’m just trying to stay humble through it all,” Edwards said.
A prospective marine biology major, Edwards said he was considering offers from Texas Tech and Colorado as well, but the atmosphere both on and off the field helped sway Iowa State for the three-star defensive back.
“The academic perspective and the tutors; there’s just such a love for the players at Iowa State,” Edwards said. “I feel like it’ll give me the best possible college career that I can have.”
Turner also garnered an all-state first-team nod after logging 1,283 yards and 19 touchdowns as a wide receiver – a secondary position for a three-star prospect recruited at defensive back and bound for Waco after finalizing his pledge to Baylor.
“It’s more than rewarding,” Turner said. “All the hard work over my whole high school career, you think about a long-term goal for four years like college when you’re first starting high school and it all seems so far away. Now that it’s all a month out, I’m so excited.”
The Bears were the first Power Five school to offer Turner, doing so on June 17 after the safety attended a camp in Waco. Turner was given a tour of the campus by head coach Matt Rhule himself, and despite receiving an offer the following day from his father’s alma mater, Illinois, he’ll remain in-state for the next chapter of his football career.
Turner wasn’t alone in enjoying his moment on Wednesday, with more than 20 family members on hand to celebrate with the Lions’ standout safety.
Brewster, meanwhile, will continue his career at Louisiana Tech, a program he verbally committed to on Sept. 1. Right around then, the offensive lineman was embarking on his first season at Prestonwood and would start at right tackle for the TAPPS state quarterfinalists.
Checking in at 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, the three-star lineman was mulling offers from Southern Illinois and Central Arkansas before academics and scenery helped secure Brewster’s future in Louisiana.
“The location was big for me. It’s far but not too far, and the school itself had all the things I wanted career-wise,” Brewster said. “One of my biggest hobbies is hunting and fishing, and the area around Louisiana Tech in Ruston is really good for that.”
Brewster added that he’s leaning toward a major in something related to engineering.
“It’s huge. You only go through something like this one time. This has been such a great experience,” Brewster said.