Evergreen senior Zyell Griffin can’t stop saying it: “It’s really real.”
The childhood dream so many young football players have of playing under the lights on the biggest stages of college football has become reality for the speedy Plainsmen receiver, who signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday. He joined five teammates and many others around the county as the NCAA’s signing period for all sports except basketball opened.
“Around this time last year … that’s when the recruiting started picking up and it got really real,” Griffin said. “That’s when it all clicked in.”
Griffin, a 6-foot-1, 3-star receiver, blossomed his senior season, hauling in 50 passes for 845 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also electric as a kick and punt returner. His season featured a 99-yard field goal returned for a score.
While he originally believed he wanted to stay close to home, once he landed in Las Vegas, he knew the Mountain West school was a perfect fit.
“When I got to Vegas, it was like ‘This is home,’” Griffin said.
Joining him on that visit to Nevada was fellow Clark County gridiron star Yaro Duvalko, the Skyview quarterback. Duvalko, a 6-foot-3, 3-star pro-style quarterback, verbally committed to Utah State in June. On Jan. 27, he officially decommitted from the Aggies and re-opened his recruitment. On Wednesday, with a group of 15 Skyview athletes signing alongside him, he chose Big Sky’s Sacramento State to sign his NLI with.
“I just feel good having it signed and I found a good home,” Duvalko said. “It’s a dream come true but there’s another dream still to chase.”
Duvalko was 136 for 214 and 2,093 yards passing for the Storm this season. He also had 19 touchdowns as the Storm qualified for state.
“It just showed me you have to keep your options open,” Duvalko said of the late shuffle of his recruitment. “There’s always going to be a plan B you have to consider. I think that really matured me in a way.”
Alongside Duvalko on Wednesday was Storm teammate Ahmani Williams. The 6-foot linebacker followed in his father’s footsteps by inking with Eastern Washington University, where he’ll redshirt. Julian Williams played safety from 1997-2000 for the Eagles.
“There’s a lot of pressure and sacrifice that goes into chasing such a big goal throughout high school,” Williams said. “To have that culmination of all those early-morning workouts and missed parties and long study sessions, to feel it all pay off feels good. But it’s also exciting because now you can really get to work with an opportunity in your hands.”
Elsewhere in the county, Hockinson’s Peyton Brammer signed his paperwork to play football at the University of Montana. Originally, the 6-foot-5 athlete envisioned a future in hoops. When he was garnering Division I football interest his sophomore season, he started to reconsider.
“It’s a blessing for sure,” Brammer said of having multiple routes to pursue. “I love both of them. I grew up playing both of them. Both took off and were very good sports for me, turned into very serious sports for me.”
Brammer, who hauled in 33 passes for 703 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, faced road blocks each step of the way. He broke his foot and missed most of his junior basketball season. His senior season was cut short on the gridiron when he tore multiple ligaments in his knee. The injury will force him to grayshirt at Montana, meaning he will stay at home to rehab his knee through the fall and enroll with the Grizzlies for the second semester. He’s expected to play tight end.
Camas lineman Tristan Souza also accepted a preferred walk-on spot at Washington State University.