‘Surreal’ moments make for special signing day at Viera

Eight student-athletes announce college choices


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Viera High students (from l-r) Shamaar Mohr, Sean Atkins, Gavin Lamp and Cassie Bodi were among a group of eight who were part of the school's National Signing Day celebration on Wednesday.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

They have been playing football together since they were in the fourth grade.

So how cool was it for Viera High football players Chris Murphy and Gavin Lamp to share the auditorium stage Wednesday afternoon on National Signing Day?

“It seems like yesterday me and Gavin were playing Mighty Mite football in the youth league, and now we’re signing our letters of intent to go play college football,” Murphy said.

“It’s surreal. It’s crazy.”

Lamp signed with Richmond University, while Murphy is heading to Keiser University. The two offensive linemen were joined by quarterback Zac Dowgiallo (Concordia University-Nebraska) and record-setting wide receivers Shamaar Mohr and Sean Atkins.

Mohr, whose 1.490 receiving yards are believed to be the new single-season county record, is going to Central Connecticut State. Atkins, the program’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,543 on 155 receptions) and touchdowns (48), will be a preferred walk-on at the University of South Florida.

Also signing Wednesday were baseball player Joe Veltri (Prince George’s Community College), cross country runner Andy Martinez (Daytona State College) and soccer player Cassie Bodi (Daytona State College).

“I was talking to a bunch of colleges out of state, but I really didn’t want to go that far because I wasn’t really ready to branch out that far yet,” Bodi said. “(Daytona State College) is a perfect fit for me.

“It’s close. I’ll play two years there and if I like the college life of doing soccer and school, then I’ll continue on and hopefully play at a higher level.”

And with older sister Emily playing for Eastern Florida State College, we’re going to have a little family rivalry going when the two programs play each other next season.

“The day I committed, (Emily) was like, ‘Congrats … but we’re going to beat you,” Cassie laughed.

While he’s not getting a scholarship – yet – Atkins couldn’t have been happier to become a preferred walk-on at USF.

“I’m so excited,” he said. “That’s been my dream school since I was a little kid. When I got offered as a preferred walk-on, it was a no-brainer. Yeah, there’s no money, but I believe in my ability, so I’ll be able to get a scholarship.”

Atkins, who had USF posters in his room as a kid, said he would like to become a physical therapist.

“This day is pretty much a dream come true,” he said. “Growing up as a kid, you see people doing this. Just to be a part of it is such a humbling experience.”

For Murphy, the dream of playing college football started a long time ago. The realization it was possible, though, didn’t happen until he became a Hawk.

“College football, to me, has been a dream for a while,” he said. “But it was a dream I didn’t think I could accomplish until I came here and found my identity and found out what I was good at.”

It was that experience, perhaps, that led Murphy to make two big choices about where he wants to go to college and the career path he plans on taking.

“It kind of felt like Viera,” he said of Keiser University, which had its inaugural season last year.

“It’s a small-knit community. They just love football, and their brand new, just like our program’s brand new. It was the perfect fit.”

Murphy said he wants to major in exercise science with the idea of becoming a football coach.

His inspiration?

“The Viera coaching staff,” he said. “Being able to impact someone’s life like that and doing something you love (is what I want to do).”