Trapper Pannell claimed there was no special moment, no specific instance when he suddenly realized he wanted to play at Sam Houston State.
The graduating Tivy senior quarterback received offers from UTEP, Incarnate Word and Sam Houston. During the past several months, he had leaned toward choosing the Bearkats, possessing a general feeling that Sam Houston was the best destination for him. A Jan. 18 visit to the campus confirmed that hunch. Pannell liked the campus, his future teammates and the program’s culture, so he officially committed.
On National Signing Day on Wednesday, he signed his national letter of intent in front of friends and family at Tivy high school. Five other athletes also penned their LOIs on Wednesday. Savana Trahan is going to fulfill a lifelong dream and play college volleyball at UTEP. Audrey Robertson plans on playing with her older sister, Juliana Robertson, at Lubbock Christian University. Stoney Rhodes signed to play baseball at New Mexico Junior College. Liz Twiss is taking her softball talents to Southwestern University and Jared Zirkel reaffirmed his commitment to place kick at Georgia.
Most of these athletes had already been committed to their respective schools for months; some even signed their LOI in private. Wednesday’s ceremony, though served as an opportunity to celebrate their athletic accomplishments with their peers.
“It’s been a pretty stressful process,” Pannell said. “I’m glad it’s over. It’s nice to have a plan. … I felt like I was wanted at (Sam Houston). It’s a really good program that’s known for winning. It was all-around a good choice.”
The feeling was mutual, according to David Jones. The Tivy football coach said that Sam Houston’s coaching staff was thrilled when Pannell committed, believing him to be one of the best quarterbacks in Texas. Jones also thinks Pannell possesses all the attributes to thrive in college. He’s been coaching the position for 38 years and hasn’t encountered many quarterbacks with more natural talent than Pannell. He has the arm strength, speed and height to play quarterback at a high level.
Pannell flashed that potential last fall, capturing District 14-5A Div. II offensive MVP after passing for 2,714 yards and 33 touchdowns while rushing for 656 yards and 14 scores. While he posted those numbers, his coach continued to send his film to multiple college coaches.
“He had the next-level ability for sure. … I’m thrilled to death that he got a chance,” Jones said. “I think he will do well. He’s a tough kid. He will just have to stay the course.”
But Jones also emphasized Pannell will have to polish his game when he arrives at Sam Houston. In fact, he reminded all six signees that they will encounter adversity in college, that they are going to have to work harder than they’ve ever had before if they want to succeed at the next level.
But on Wednesday, the six signees weren’t worried about future obstacles. They were just happy to sign next to friends they have known for years.
“It was really cool signing with everyone,” Pannell said. “We’re all good friends, so it was fun.”