CLINTON — Three Clinton High School football players on Wednesday officially declared their destinations for the 2018 college football season.

Clinton High School hosted a National Signing Day ceremony highlighting CHS seniors Ty McGruder, Louis Harris and Jordan Parker. McGruder will play for Grand View in the fall, while Harris and Parker will attend Ellsworth Community College.

For McGruder’s mom Twyla Armstead, this moment is something she thought possible in middle school, when McGruder showed flashes of his future football self.

“It’s a great feeling for him to be going on doing what he loves to do,” Armstead said. “We’re excited and blessed.”

McGruder stays active in basketball and track and field, but he’s always had his sights set on football. On the gridiron, he was a second-team all-district wide receiver.

It wasn’t just his work ethic on the football field that got him noticed, though, head football coach Jon Wauford said.

“It became apparent with Ty that he had an opportunity during his junior year,” Wauford said. “That opportunity with football was especially helped by the job he did in the classroom. That opened doors for him.”

McGruder recently completed work with the Leaders Emerging and Developing program in the area and was an all-academic district selection in the fall.

“Ty is a good kid,” Armstead said. “He’s a leader and a lot of kids look up to him.”

Balancing school work with the college work load isn’t worrying McGruder just yet.

“Sometimes it was a challenge to go to practice and then go home and do homework,” McGruder said. “In college, I will only play one sport, so I will have more time on my hands. Time management will be important.”

For Harris, the recruiting process took time, talking with family members and seeing some of the students who have already gone from Clinton to Ellsworth.

It also didn’t hurt to have Parker by his side.

“I love football a lot,” said Harris, who was a first-team all-district selection in 2017. “They had the best coaching staff. Ever since I started playing, I knew I was good at it and I wanted to take it to the next level.”

Tonya Harris realized during her son’s freshman year that football could be a possibility in college.

“We didn’t know he was going to get this big,” Tonya said. “His dad is a big guy, too, so his size let us know that this kid could really go somewhere.”

Harris was the lone returning offensive starter for the River Kings in 2017 and earned all-district accolades as an offensive lineman. Harris also has been a multiple-sport athlete during his time at Clinton, playing basketball for the River Kings.

Harris’ size and skill was evident on the football field for Wauford early in his tenure.

“I thought that about Louis the first day I met him,” said Wauford about the possibility of Harris playing at the collegiate level. “All of our students, they’re not done yet. But I feel good about the quality of people we’re passing along.”

For Parker, he wasn’t with the River Kings long, but Wauford still knew his potential in the early going.

“Jordan joined us about a week before the football season, but from day one, we knew he was a special athlete,” Wauford said.

Grand View tabbed McGruder as a wide receiver in naming him one of 32 signees on National Signing Day.

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