It’s a dream they’ve all had since they were kids.
And on Wednesday, it became a reality.
For Viera High senior football players Zak Sedaros, Tyler Cooley, Brady Touzet and Jackson Hatfield, getting a chance to take part in a national signing day ceremony was a special moment indeed.
“This day means a lot,” Touzet said. “Me and Zak were talking about this earlier. We’ve been talking about wanting to play in college since we were 10. It’s pretty much a dream come true for everyone.”
Touzet, an interior offensive lineman, signed with St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.
“They made me feel at home,” he said. “I have family down there. They have my major (computer science). And to be honest, the atmosphere there was amazing.”
Being close to home was important for Cooley, too. Though he spent much of his time at Viera playing defensive end, he got a chance to play some tight end for the Hawks as a senior and that’s the position he’s been recruited to play at Keiser University. He may also see some time as a long snapper.
“They’re a winning school. They’re a winning program, and it’s only two hours south of here,” Cooley said. “If I feel homesick at all, I can drive up here for the weekend and hangout with my parents and my sister. That’s a big plus for me.
“They have really good (academics) with small class sizes. For me, that’s most important.”
Cooley plans to major in sports management.
Sedaros, meanwhile, is heading to the University of South Florida where he’ll get to compete in the American Athletic Conference while studying pre-med.
“I definitely wanted to stay in-state and I wanted to go to a big school,” he said. “They play big football. I’ll definitely get to do that at USF and I’m excited about it.”
Though he tied the school record for interceptions with 14, he will head to the Bulls as preferred walk-on wide receiver, much like former Viera teammate Sean Atkins.
“He loves it,” Sedaros said. “He kind of talked me into it. It was good. It’s where I want to be so I’m excited about it.”
Of the four Viera players who signed Wednesday, Hatfield is the only one going out of state.
He’s heading to Mississippi College.
“When I went there, I felt like family. The students on campus, they’re so nice, so welcoming. The facilities are great. The coaches are amazing. And it’s in the Bible Belt. You can’t beat that. … Out of all my options, that one felt like home.”
Funny that Hatfield would say “option” because Mississippi College runs the triple option, which means the offensive line is going to have to be in good shape and ready to move.
Hatfield is interested in homeland security and might possibly minor in administrative justice.
He credited Viera coach Derek Smith, defensive coordinator Ken Reda and offensive coordinator Mike Degory for not only being like second fathers to him, but for showing him how to be a better man as well as a football player.
Smith said signing day is always an exciting time for him as a coach, not just because he gets to see his players get a chance to play college football, but because he gets to see his players simply go off to college
“It’s always fun,” Smith said. “One, it’s a proud moment because you’ve seen them grow over the past four years. Second, you know they’re happy. You know it’s an opportunity for them to extend their football career.
“But I can’t say anything more important than it’s a chance for them to get a college education to where they can choose their path in life as opposed to, sometimes, the path of life choosing them.
“It’s exciting to see that. These young men are great. We’ve got a couple more that we’re still working on for after signing day, but it’s great to see these four go on.”
Smith has always preached that the Viera program is like a family. And one thing is clear … the quartet that took part in Wednesday night’s signing day ceremony will always remember their time at Viera.
“It was special,” Cooley said. “Everything about it – the coaches, growing up with these guys. I met these kids when I was seven and I first moved here from New York.
“I couldn’t have asked for better friends, for better teammates or better coaches. Everything’s been special at Viera.”