SPANISH LAKE • On the biggest night of Ira Henry's life, sleep didn't come easy.
Then again it's hard to hit the hay with a phone glued to your ear.
The Post-Dispatch Super 30 is a yearly list of the top 30 senior football prospects in the St. Louis area.
A highly coveted senior offensive lineman for the Trinity football team, Henry was up all night chatting with the coaches from Auburn and Florida State, two of his final four choices whittled from a list of 27 scholarship offers that included some of the nation's most recognizable college football programs.
“I only got like four hours of sleep,” Henry said.
Henry was back on the phone with both coaching staffs Wednesday afternoon shortly before he joined the array of Trinity's athletes who were celebrated at a signing ceremony in the gym.
The only question mark in the Titans' loaded senior class, the 6-foot-5 and 300-pound Henry picked a Florida State hat from an array before him that included Auburn, Florida and Indiana. Henry called Florida State his “dream school” on multiple occasions. In the end the pull of the Seminoles was too good to resist as he signed his national letter of intent.
“The Seminoles were just different,” Henry said. “When I went down there I felt like we were already brothers.”
Brotherhood was a theme for Trinity on Wednesday. The seniors were the foundation which the Titans built their football program the last three years. In that time there were two district championships, a Class 2 runner-up finish in 2016 and a Class 3 state championship on Dec. 1, the first for the school.
After years of struggling to compete on the gridiron, Trinity completely reshaped the expectations and perception of its program. These seniors were the catalyst.
“The big thing was how we changed this school around and it's only going to keep growing,” senior quarterback Isaiah Williams said. “We started something special at Trinity.”
The proof was in the gym. Williams and senior linebacker Shammond Cooper signed with Illinois after spurning traditionally stronger programs. Cooper, the reigning Post-Dispatch All-Metro defensive player of the year, had to fend off a late charge from Florida State, which was very interested in seeing if it could flip him from his verbal commitment to Illinois. In the end, Cooper stayed true to his word and signed with the Illini.
Cooper said it was surreal sitting at the table with his teammates as they completed their final act as high school football players. It wasn't that long ago it was just a dream.
“It's what we've been dreaming about since freshmen year, for all of us to sign and go to a place where we can flourish,” Cooper said. “It's a great accomplishment for every single one of us.”
Senior running back Alphonso Andrews signed with Wyoming. He and his family had T-shirts made up with his commitment photo emblazoned across the front. Wyoming is a long way from home, but Andrews is excited to see what the future holds.
“It's different. I wanted to put myself in a different environment,” Andrews said. “Life throws you curve balls so you want to be able to adapt to things in life.”
Senior receiver Marcus Washington signed with Texas in December. Decked out in burnt orange, Washington could only smile as he talked about a day he and his teammates have dreamed about for a long time.
“Just seeing all of us signing is a great feeling,” Washington said. “We really did it. I just want to see everybody meet at the top and hopefully we all succeed at life.”
All the Titans took their own paths on the recruiting trail. Even after Williams, Cooper and Washington made their picks, they left Henry to his own devices. He was going to find the right fit for him on his own and his teammates respected that.
“The advice I gave him was to go with his heart and he did,” Washington said.