By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — There were no surprises at Port Charlotte High School Wednesday morning for National Signing Day.
At least not for the kids who actually signed.
Tiyan “Pop” Bush, D’Andre Lewis and Stephen Nagy all inked scholarships in the school’s media center to play college football next year. Bush is headed to the University New Hampshire while Lewis will play at Mars Hill University in North Carolina and Nagy at Sterling College in Kansas.
Bush was a defensive force for the Pirates this season and made the Sun’s all-area team as a linebacker, recording 77 tackles, eight sacks, an interception and five forced fumbles. He’ll play safety for New Hampshire, a school he picked over Florida A&M, Valdosta State University and Stony Brook University.
But Bush says he’s ready to play wherever he’s needed to succeed at the next level.
“They say I’m versatile so if they need me to play somewhere else I can do it,” said Bush, who joins a long lineage of family members who’ve played in college. “Throughout my high school career I played every position on defense besides defensive line so I think I’m good fit because I can do most things.”
Lewis says he was strung along by Florida A&M near the end of the recruiting process and was “let go,” providing plenty of motivation as he heads up to Mars Hill. He had tears in his eyes as he spoke about his journey, pointing to his mother Geri Lewis as the reason he’s made it this far in his career.
“She’s done everything for me. It’s only been us two my whole life and she’s been my dad, my mom, my everything, basically,” Lewis said. “She’s raised me to be respectable and take care of grades first and my family first above everything. She’s done a lot for me,”
Nagy’s only offer was from Sterling and he’ll play either on the offensive line or at tight end for the Warriors.
“That was the only real school that gave me an offer. There were a couple of other schools looking at me but this was my only real offer,” Nagy said.
Ernest Harvey, who recorded 634 rushing yards, 279 receiving and eight touchdowns in an injury-shortened season, was also expected to sign Wednesday morning but he had his scholarship offer pulled by Florida A&M on Sunday for another athlete. He still has offers from Henderson State University in Arkansas and Concordia University in Nebraska, but coach Jordan Ingman says he’s currently more interested in exploring preferred walk-on opportunities.
“On Sunday FAMU pulled the rug out from under him. I’m very upset with how they went about it,” Ingman said. “They left him high and dry so we’re working very hard as a staff to find Ernest a home that he’ll be happy at.”
Port Charlotte kicker Devyn McCormick will also likely play at the next level. He has some small-school offers but Ingman says he prefers to walk-on at bigger school, which isn’t very uncommon for kickers. McCormick was one of the best kickers in the nation this season, making nine of his 10 field goal attempts — with a long of 47 — and only missed one extra points, as he was 41 of 42.
When it’s all said and done, Ingman expects five of his eight seniors from this past season — which ended in the regional quarterfinals — to be playing college football in 2017.
“When you look at the statistics, only the top 0.8 percent of high school athletes get college scholarships,” Ingman said. “Everybody thinks this is an every year thing and that this is something they expect — it’s not that way. 0.8 percent is less than one kid out of 100 that get scholarships so anytime we have these days, it never gets old. It’s never any less exciting. It’s always exciting and it’s always a blessing when it comes.”