By Jim Dolan
Fort Hamilton High School Principal Jo Ann Chester and Football Head Coach Dan Perez opened the principal’s conference room to two current seniors and one alumnus to sign their commitment letters for college football scholarships to three area schools on National Signing Day, Feb. 1.
From the class of 2009, Levon Williams returned to sign for a scholarship with Fordham University. After spending two years at Nassau Community College, Williams put in extra time to pull up his grades to match his outstanding athletic ability, and was finally recruited by a four-year college for admission this spring semester.
While at Fort Hamilton during the 2008 football season, Williams was a two-way player at linebacker and tight end and became the go-to receiver for then Coach Vince Laino.
On his signing, Williams remarked, “It was sad that I couldn’t do it in 2009, but I worked hard to see this day. I’m enrolled at Fordham now and it feels great to accomplish this. Coach Perez and Coach Laino helped me out through a lot of tough times.”
In addition to Williams, one of the two current seniors to sign for a football scholarship was one of the team’s defensive standouts, Toba Akinleye. Recognized by the PSAL as one of the top defensive ends with 17 sacks on the season, Akinleye is headed to Columbia University on a pre-med track. At the team’s recent awards luncheon, Principal Chester fittingly presented Akinleye with the school’s Scholar Athlete Award for his on- and off-the-field accomplishments.
On Akinleye’s signing, Coach Perez stated, “He’s our first player to go to an Ivy League school; I couldn’t be prouder.”
Another Fort Hamilton defensive standout recruited by Sacred Heart College in Fairfield, Conn., is Mensur Ibric. As a two-way lineman, Ibric became the on-field leader of the Tigers this season and was recognized for his efforts with his scholarship offer. As an integral member of the 2010 championship team, Ibric’s leadership was again vital when injuries set the team back near the conclusion of this past season. Ibric stated that the small college and location close to home appealed to him.
“It’s a place that they want me to bring my energy,” said Ibric, the recent recipient of the team’s Iron Man Award.
In addition to these recent signings, Fort Hamilton has sent other players to Division I Colleges for scholarships, including: Brandon Reddish ‘11 and Ivan Foy ‘11 to Syracuse; James Howell ‘11 to Wagner; Keith Stroud ‘07 to Rutgers and Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett ‘07 to Temple.
Commenting on these past Tigers, Akinleye stated, “We have a great program. A lot of guys have paved the way for us to go to big-time schools. People are starting to notice.”