By Jeff Odom
When Freedom football player Nate Godwin met University of South Florida (USF) coach Willie Taggart he was going to be a Bull.
“When coach Taggart came in, I knew staying close to home was a better deal for me, for my family and for my supporters,” Godwin said. “I can’t wait, man. I feel like I’m a part of a movement.”
Godwin, along with teammates Isaac Tanner (Western Kentucky), Richard Bisaccia (Middle Tennessee State), Cody Coffin (Webber International) and girls track standout Sandra Akachukwu (Western Kentucky) signed their letters of intent Feb. 6 to continue competing at the next level.
Godwin, a defensive back, is excited about what the future holds for him at USF.
“We have a lot of kids coming in and a good recruiting class with coach Taggart, and I feel like we’re going to build something real special,” Godwin said. “I want to be the foundation of that. It’s going to be great to represent Freedom, and hopefully we’ll get more kids to come to USF and be successful.”
First-year Patriots football coach Todd Donohoe was proud of his players signing with major schools.
“This is a credit to their hard work, their perseverance, their parents and their supporters,” Donohoe said. “It’s exciting, and I know they’re going to do the right things. … They have laid the foundation for sure.”
Tanner, a linebacker, said signing with his friends was one of the most special moments of his life.
“I think it’s the start of something great, and I just want to leave a legacy once I move on to college, but I’m not going to be the type of player to forget where I came from,” Tanner said. “I fell in love with the school, and I felt like the players were great and they have one of the greatest bonds I’ve ever seen in college football.”
Bisaccia, whose father Rich is the special teams coach for the Dallas Cowboys, compared the signing to a “brotherhood.”
“It’s just awesome and a blessing to be signing with my best friend Isaac Tanner and the rest of my teammates,” said Bisaccia, a linebacker. “We didn’t win a lot of games, but the team came together and that was great.”
Before signing, Coffin stood up to thank his teachers and administrators for everything they did for him. The offensive lineman said he doesn’t want to go out as just an athlete, but a student who made a difference academically too.
“It’s definitely like a first pen to paper kind of feeling for me,” Coffin said. “I want to represent Freedom like I have the last four years and work my hardest. … Probably the biggest memories are being a student. Just the environment and the football team was an extra activity that I did, and I’m just glad that I finished a good four years at this high school.”
Akachukwu said she never imagined signing with a Division I school would be possible, and thanked her coach Dwight Smith for helping her get where she is today.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, like the hard work finally paid off,” Akachukwu said. “I feel like (Western Kentucky) will help me grow up, and I really like the team as well as the coaches. The background of the program is very strong, and I feel like I can succeed there.”
Girls basketball player Faith Woodard also participated in the ceremony after inking her name to a letter of intent in November to play at Georgetown.
—Follow Jeff Odom on Twitter: @JOdomLaker