Inglewood High School Principal Debra Tate was speechless as she kicked off a remarkable signing day for eight graduating senior football players at the basketball gymnasium on the morning of Dec. 15.
Since Tate made the bold step in hiring Mil’Von James as the Sentinels head coach three years ago, days such as this one where players and parents donned their new college polos and T-shirts to celebrate signing a National Letter of Intent is common place.
“Five million kids play high school football, but only 3200 are going to college. That’s less than one percent,” James told the audience as he sat at the table flanked by his players on each side. “A higher percentage of kids go to jail or drop out of school, but if I continue to do my job as coach the championships will come but this is what it’s all about. We are sending kids to college.”
For Kanika Mosley, the mother of Justus Ross-Simmons who was among two signing with Colorado State, it marked a moment of overcoming all of the trials and tribulations of a Black young man.
‘He’s made it out of high school and now he’s about to get an education and continue his dream that he has always intended ever since he was first grade which is to be a college football player,” Mosley explained to Inglewood Today.
Acting Inglewood Unified School District Superintendent and County Administrator Dr. Erica Torres was also on hand for the monumental occasion.
“It’s an amazing day in the Inglewood Unified School District. We are celebrating our athletes and all of their achievements. They have unveiled to us where they are going to attend college and they are excelling in sports and academically as well,” Dr. Torres told the newspaper. “They are doing such an amazing job in representing the Inglewood Unified School District and The City of Champions.”
Running back Tomarion Harden is one of three players that will be attending UCLA in the fall of 2022 and his mother LaTanya Harden could not be prouder.
“I am overwhelmed and very proud. I don’t have words to explain it. It’s been a long time coming, ever since flag football and all the way up to now. I am just so excited and so blessed that I don’t have a son that’s in the streets,” Latanya said.
One of my favorite Inglewood football players this season was the all-purpose dynamic playmaker on defense and offense Washington State bound Taariq Al-Uqdah whose parents sported his future college colors of crimson at the ceremony.
“I am humble. We feel blessed. This is a result of prayer and hard work, inspiration from the Lord, parents, grandparents, the coaches. I am just grateful to everyone and I want him to keep working hard and come back and make an impact on this community,” added Sheriell Al-Uqdah.
Father Esston spoke about the significance of being a father in the household.
“I was blessed to have my father in my life, so because of that experience there was no way that I could not be there for mine. I am probably more of a fan than I am a father. I am amazed of the things that he does.”
While dad is a USC man and the Trojans did make an offer, Taariq stayed true to Washington State although the head coach had been dismissed for not taking the vaccination.
“Loyalty is a big thing to me and they (Washington State) have always been there since the start of my recruitment. They never wavered and didn’t show any signs of wavering throughout this process and that’s the best place for me,” said Tarriq.
So with UCLA bound Justyn Martin, Marshon Oxley (Colorado State), Louis Brown (Colorado State), Damon Williams (San Jose State) and Clint Stephens on his way to UCLA, James says that he’s pushing to get at least a dozen more signed by February.