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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Three Ink on National Signing Day

Arkansas River Valley Business Directory

Surrounded by family, teammates, and coaches, three Greenwood Bulldogs signed to play for three different universities. Seniors Jack Edwards, L.J. Robins, and Peyton Presson made it official as to where life after being a Greenwood Bulldog will take them.

Jack Edwards – Harding University

Jack Edawards – Photo by Peggy Barger

While the name may not appear in a stat sheet, what Jack Edwards accomplished in his time at Greenwood was phenomenal. Coming to Greenwood just two years ago he made his name known being the Bulldog long snapper. In fact, his name on his X profile is @SnapperJack2024. Throughout the two seasons being with Greenwood, many would not have known who Jack was, because truth be known a Center, or a long snapper only get recognized when things go wrong. For Edwards, which was not the case. Handling the snapping duties on punts and field goals, Jack was perfect. No missed punt snaps or field goal snaps. For his effort, Jack Edwards was awarded the opportunity to join the NCAA Division II National Champion Harding University.

Going from a State Championship team to a National Championship team was the perfect fit. He joins Elkins RB Da’Shawn Chairs, Shiloh Christian RB Bo Williams, and Booneville RB/LB Dax Goff who have all committed to play for Harding this fall. Last season former Bulldog great Grant Ennis was the kicker for the Harding Bisons.

“I love the coaching staff, they’re all great guys. Coach Simmons, I enjoy talking to him a lot. I like the culture of the program. Reminds me a lot of Greenwood.” Jack Edwards said about Harding, “Obviously I like the [National] Champions, that’s a huge bonus.”

“It was amazing.” Edwards said about his time at Greenwood, “I played at two other schools, neither of them compare to anything here. Cultures great. The teams great.”

Peyton Presson – Culver-Stockton University

Peyton Presson – Photo by Peggy Barger

The story of Peyton Presson gets another chapter. For the last two seasons shoulder injuries plagued the talented Senior receiver. A broken collarbone against Little Rock Christian in the week 10 of the 2022 season, saw Presson on the sideline as the Bulldogs marched to their 16th State Championship appearance. Off-Season work on the shoulder had Presson poised to join a very deep and talented Bulldog receiving corps that included two 1000-yard receivers in classmate L.J. Robins and Junior Grant Karnes. It would not be as the shoulder would be re-injured in practice before the season. This was not to be the end. Presson would join back before seasons end carry the load of the receptions in his first game back. Then proceed to get four consecutive 100 yard games enroute to a 2023 Class 6A State Championship.

Enter Culver-Stockton College. Just below the Missouri-Iowa state line and on the banks of the Mississippi, sits the town of Canton, Missouri. A small town with a population of 2,774 is home to the Wildcats. A NAIA school that plays in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

“I’d never heard of it until I started following coaches.” said Presson about the recruiting process. The days of High School Coaches sending in film are nearly gone. It’s all about networking with coaches via camps, following them on “X” (formerly Twitter), and sending highlights from game film platform giant Hudl. Arkansas Tech made a run at Presson late extending an offer to join the Wonderboys, but after visiting the campuses and seeing the similarities his mind was made and Culver-Stockton was it.

“It was definitely fun, especially capping it off with that State Championship this year.” Presson said of his time as a Bulldog, “After all the years we tried and tried and tried to finally win it was a big moment for all of us.”

While it is easy to want to talk about the injury and the process to get back on the field, it is what Peyton Presson did coming back that stood out. “It was definitely something. Most people they come back in after an injury, they’re a little bit scared of play. I kind of saw it as, if it’s going to happen again, it’s going happen again, so why not do it going out at least 100%”

L.J. Robins – Northeastern State University

L.J. Robins – Photo by Peggy Barger

For two seasons, one thing eluded L.J. Robins, a State Championship. In 2021, he started on an offense that had to go against one of the toughest defensive lines in the state, El Dorado. When starter Hunter Houston went out with an injury, Dizzy Dean (Elkins, signed with Central Missouri) stepped in to lead the Bulldogs. Then we caught a glimpse of what the future of Bulldog Football would look like, then sophomore L.J. Robins and then freshman Grant Karnes tried to overcome an early deficit coming up short. In 2022, the Bulldogs went back to Little Rock for a third consecutive time to face off against Pulaski Academy, once again coming up short. Robins and Karnes would both contribute heavily, amassing over one thousand yards receiving. Now it’s 2023, one last chance to get the ring, and gosh did they. Repeating the same feat from the year before it was Robins and Karnes again with 1000 yards and now a State Championship trophy.

Northeastern State University, situated in Tahlequah, Ok. The Riverhawks play in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Conference. When L.J. suits up in the fall he will see familiar faces across the field. At Pittsburg State is former Bulldog Offensive Lineman Braden Stein. Central Missouri has former classmates Robins, Dizzy and Stone Dean. Lastly, the former Bulldog Linebacker Evan Williams plays for Missouri Western.

“I really love the place; I love the community.” Robins said about the school, “Everyone on my mom’s side, except my mom went there.”

Speaking on his career at Greenwood, L.J. Robins said, “Going into my sophomore year Coach Young put me at receiver. I wasn’t very good. haha I’m not going to lie. I ran my routes weird. But I became a student of the game, a student of the offense, a student of Coach Young.”

Coach Chris Young

When Head Coach Chris Young came to Greenwood in 2000, sending kids to the next level in football was just starting to become part of the program. A few had gone to play Division 2 on a scholarship and walk-on at the University of Arkansas, but since his arrival he has seen six quarterbacks sign to play Division 1 football, and a plethora of others in various levels of collegiate football.

“These kids, people don’t understand how hard they work for this.” Coach Chris Young said, “Especially you look at those three and all three have a different story. Jack came in, moved in two years ago and people don’t see the time he spent in here by himself in the indoor and the outside just snapping the ball to his dad or to his brother. He worked extremely hard and he’s going to a National Championship team. He’s leaving a State Championship team to go to a National Championship, he knows what it takes to win.”

“L.J. started three consecutive State Championship games.” Coach Young said, “He’s always been told he’s too small, and he continues to prove people wrong throughout his career. I expect him to do the same up at Tahlequah. He’ll have a great career there, be a great football player there.”

“Peyton Presson yeah know. So excited he gets the opportunity to play another year.” Coach Young said, “The two years filled with injuries. It was a great story, he was able to come back and start for us in the Play-offs and start in the State Championship game this year. But, look forward to him having a healthy career up there. Excited to see what he can do.”

Speaking on watching another class sign to the next level, Coach Young was jokingly asked if this ever gets old. “No it doesn’t get old” he said with smile, “It’s great for our program. The young guys get to come up here and they get to see what happens if you put in the work. It’s not easy. Those guys have worked their tail off to get where they are now. It’s a good reminder for our younger guys, number one don’t let somebody tell you what you can or cannot do. It’s up to yourself putting in the work, good things are going to happen. We’re hoping this is a yearly tradition at Greenwood.”

If the past is an indicator and looking into the crystal ball of Greenwood Football players looking to add to the history, this will definitely be a tradition just as it is in other activities at Greenwood High School.

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Ross Fujibayashi
Ross Fujibayashihttps://residentnewsnetwork.com
A Greenwood Graduate that has called Greenwood home since 1995. I originally started writing for the school newspaper my Junior year of High School, and have been writing on and off ever since. I have interviewed youth sports dads to Formula 1 drivers and love telling the story not only in print but from behind the lens.
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