High schools players all over the country signed on the line to make their college decisions official, and five Leesville seniors made their own decisions on Wednesday.
The 2019 class makes 16 signees in the three years that head coach Robert Causey has been at Leesville.
"As a coach, it's their day," he said. "Seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing they are going to use the game to play at the next level and further their education is exciting. I don't know what it's like personally, but this is one of things I wanted to do when I came back. I felt like we were an untapped source of athletes that schools didn't know about."
The senior class is coming off the best season in the history of the school, going 13-1 and making it to the state semifinals.
Matthew Anderson – University of Nebraska
Anderson signed during the early signing period in December but joined his teammates to celebrate the accomplishment on Wednesday.
The tackle will travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, to become a Cornhusker in the Big Ten Conference.
"It feels amazing," he said. "Words can't describe the feeling. It's a whirlwind of emotions. There are positives and negatives. It's all come full circle, and I'm ready to dominate at the next level.
"I never expected this in a millions years. As a kid, I was excited to just get a letterman's jacket. It's a lot more than I signed up for, and I'm so grateful for it."
Anderson anchored the right side of the offensive line as the Wampus Cats ran for 3,256 yards in the 2018 season. Anderson joined two of his fellow offensive linemen in signing to play in college.
"I can't wait to see what they do," Anderson said. "I am fully confident that they will make it to the next level after college."
"His key trait is the fact that he is a servant and he works with others. He looks out for other kids and that's what makes him that kind of ball player."
"Matthew has brought that big-named school into our offseason and into our program. Hopefully, we'll get a few more. It doesn't happen all the time, because we're so far out of the way. You're either going to Fort Polk, you're lost or you're fishing if you're going to Leesville. Just to have Nebraska come through has been nice."
Montae Lynch – Tyler Community College
Lynch, a first-team all-district selection, will take his talents to Tyler, Texas, to play for the Apache. The offensive tackle shut down the left side of the line for the Wampus Cats as they threw for 2,152 yards this season.
"It's been great," he said about signing with his teammates. "It's sad seeing them all move on, but that's their job.
"I'm going to take my work ethic with me, because I worked hard every day here."
Lynch will reopen his recruitment after a season or two at Tyler.
"I feel like it is great for academics and it can help me get somewhere bigger," he said.
"The first thing I want to get together is my academics. They are important."
"He has so much upside, but he doesn't know. He doesn't get what is there in his arsenal with his size and speed. He's already over 310 pounds at 6-foot-7 and ran a sub-5.0 40 last summer at that size. He's just going to blossom once he gets there."
"Who know what doors are going to open for him. I think that is what sold him on going the junior college route – in two years, he gets a fresh start. He has so much upside. It's amazing."
Demarcus McCord – Iowa Wesleyan
McCord had a breakout senior season to earn an offer 872.6 miles away. McCord recorded 37 tackles, a pick and six tackles for loss this year.
"It's a big accomplishment," he said. "It's something I always wanted to do with my life. Now, actually being able to do it makes me feel very accomplished."
Iowa Wesleyan, located in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, went 1-9 last season, and McCord will play linebacker and safety at the next level.
"They were showing me the most love," McCord said. "It's also great for my education.
"I've never been there, so I'm looking forward to having a great experience for my four years."
"I always told him that he had the intangibles because you can't coach size or speed. He had to develop as a player. He was a late bloomer, and he missed some games because of some injuries this year."
"Coaches found his film using social media, and I said 'Hey, we talked about it. If you feel comfortable there, go for it. You never know where that door in Iowa is going to lead.'"
Brett Pope – Louisiana Tech
Pope will play center and take care of the longsnapping at the next level at Louisiana Tech.
Pope was in the middle of the Wampus Cat offensive line, which one was one of the best units in the state.
"It feels wonderful," he said. "I feel excited and happy.
"There is just something about Tech. Going up there, I just fell in love with the place and it's a great opportunity for me."
Pope earned a preferred walk on spot with the Bulldogs and will keep working when he gets on campus.
"I'm excited to show what Leesville taught me about football and showing the characteristics that the coaches taught us," he said.
"He's self made. He's a big kid. To even have an opportunity, he worked on every little thing he needed to work on. He is self made. What a tremendous work ethic to be rewarded with a chance to play at Louisiana Tech."
Duwon Tolbert – Tyler Community College
Tolbert was a mismatch on the outside throughout his career for Leesville. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver with explosive leaping ability continues his career at Tyler Community College, joining his teammate Lynch.
"It feels great," he said. "Everybody came out to show us love and support. It feels amazing.
"It's going to be great to go with Montae. Him and I have been close for a long time now. It's going to be a great experience going to college with someone that close."
Tolbert recorded 696 yards on 34 catches to go with seven touchdowns.
He will work on craft and see what offers come up after his time at Tyler.
"I didn't get what I expected to get from what this football season was, but I really liked Tyler College," Tolbert said.
"I can stay there for two years and go to a bigger DI school in no time."
"We told him that it's your body of work that will determine what happens after your first year. You have to take care of your business, just like here, in the classroom, your personal life and on the field and let your body of work speak for itself. He's going there as a qualifier, so in a year, his recruiting starts over. That's the beauty of going to a junior college."
"We can't believe that people hadn't been asking about our 6-foot-3, 195 pound receiver that dominated any DB he faced from New Orleans up to Shreveport. We never got that with him."