In a festive atmosphere while surrounded by family, friends, coaches, and media inside the Tiger Palace, five Jesuit High School football standouts signed with the colleges of their choice at a special ceremony Wednesday (Dec. 15) afternoon, the first day of the football early signing period.
The five Tigers, who have led Jesuit to a 14-0 record this season and a berth in Saturday's Class 6A State Championship game, are: Tre'Quan Alexander – Rhode Island; Jaydn Girard – Wake Forest; Junior Vandeross – Toledo; Caleb Williams – Furman; and Wade Woodaz – Clemson.
School president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. and athletic director Terry Rupp addressed the signees, encouraging them to use what they have learned at Jesuit to continue on a path of leadership in college as 'Men for Others' – and to bring home a State title on Saturday night in Ft. Lauderdale.
The five seniors helped Jesuit reach the State Semifinal three straight years from 2018-20, and then the State Final this season. The past four seasons, Jesuit has a remarkable 51-6 record under head coach Matt Thompson, including 28-1 the past two seasons, with the lone loss coming on the final play of the State Semifinal last season. The seniors also helped extend the win streak over rival Tampa Catholic to 22 years with a 42-0 win in November.
* Alexander, a 6-2, 290-pound offensive lineman, joins Rhode Island program that was 7-4 in 2021 and competes in the FCS Colonial Athletic Association. Alexander, nicknamed "Mr. IHOP" (there are five IHOPs in Rhode Island) is among the state leaders in pancake blocks this season with 52. He has been a three-year fixture at guard for the Tigers and has accumulated a whopping 121 pancake blocks in his Jesuit career.
* Girard, a 6-1, 180-pound wide receiver, has been a big-play force for the Tigers the past three seasons. He joins a Wake Forest program that went 10-3 and won the ACC Atlantic Division this season, and the No. 20-ranked Demon Deacons are playing in the Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 vs. Texas A&M. Girard has a career-high 44 receptions this season, and for his Jesuit career he has 100 catches for 1,820 yards and 23 TDs. He was selected 2nd Team All State last season.
* Vandeross, a 5-10, 195-pound wide receiver, was a 1st-team All State selection last season. After playing primarily cornerback as a freshman and sophomore – in 2018-19 combined he had a team-high 9 interceptions which he returned for 225 yards – Vandeross switched to receiver for most of his junior and senior seasons, making a combined 100 receptions for 1,728 yards and 20 TDs in 2020-21. He also has been Jesuit's punter (38 yd avg) and has excelled in the return game, averaging 24.7 yards per punt return this season. Toledo plays in the Mid-American Conference and finished 7-5 this season and will play in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 17.
* Williams, a 5-11, 185-pound safety, has been a two-year starter following in the footsteps of his brother Spencer Williams '20, who now plays for Army West Point. Williams leads Jesuit this season with 6 interceptions (he has 11 the past two years), is tied for the team lead with 4 forced fumbles, and is second on the squad with 9 passes defensed and 3 fumble recoveries. As a junior Williams was named 1st Team All State when he was 3rd on the Tigers in tackles with 125 and tied for the team-lead with 5 interceptions. He joins a Furman program that is very familiar with Jesuit, as former Tigers Braden Gilby '18 and Lex Capitano '20 helped the Paladins to a 6-5 record this season in the FCS Southern Conference.
* Woodaz, a 6-4, 210-pound safety, has been a three-year starter for Jesuit, pairing with Williams the past two seasons to form perhaps the state's best safety combo. For his Jesuit career, Woodaz has made 216 tackles. The past two seasons he has 10 passes defensed, and this season he is tied for the team lead with 4 forced fumbles. Woodaz, who is expected to play linebacker in college, joins a Clemson program that has been extraordinarily successful during the past decade, going 120-17 since 2012 with two National Championships.
This is the second of four college signing ceremonies scheduled at Jesuit this school year. The third will take place Feb. 2 (it will include additional football signees), and the fourth on April 13. Each year, 20-30 Jesuit student-athletes sign to participate in college athletics.
Please see below a photo slideshow from Wednesday's signing ceremony, and below that is a video.