Big Central players take the next step, sign on the dotted line on December National Letter of Intent day

Matt Fries of Cranford (middle, in Illinois shirt) after signing his National Letter of Intent for the Illini Wednesday. With him from left to right are Cranford assistant coaches Chuck Bell, Joe Hubert and Rob Kessler. In the back is head coach Erik Rosenmeier. (submitted photo)

In a ceremony at 7:30 this morning at Cranford High School, offensive lineman Matt Fries became the first Big Central Conference football player to signing on the dotted line to join to attend the college of his choice for 2022-23. His National Letter of Intent has been signed, sealed and delivered (electronically, of course) to the University of Illinois, where he’ll play Big Ten football next fall.

Several others are expected to sign today, while some will wait until the February signing date as they await other college offers, a process that has been delayed somewhat since the pandemic – especially at smaller schools – thanks to extra years of eligibility for college student-athletes and the proliferation of the transfer portal.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will be talking to local he student-athletes today as they make their decisions official, and will update this story with photos and audio as they become available.

Below is a list of players from each school, which college they are expected to sign or have signed with with, and the approximate time they’re expected to sign and send in their NLI, if they haven’t already.

Matt Fries – University of Illinois

Illinois football’s announcement that Cranford’s Matt Fries has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Illini. (Source: Twitter)

Thomas Amankwaa – Rutgers University

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, on Amankwaa, at today’s signing day presser:

“All he did was go out and have a tremendous senior year, like blew the doors off it. Something opened up, fortunately, and I think we’re getting a really spectacular — I think the biggest decision is do you play him on offense or play him on defense? Fran and Tiquan are fighting over this guy. So we’ll see. I think he’s not only a great player, but a great athlete.”

Hillsborough’s Thomas Amankwaa and his family on signing day in the High School Library (photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Isaiah Cherry – University of Delaware

Brandon Feury – Marist College

Tahmir Ellis – Delaware State University
FULL STORY with AUDIO: Plainfield’s Ellis feels like he helped start something for the Cardinals, as he heads to Delaware State

South Brunswick:
Jai Patel – Rutgers University
Omar Abdelaziz – Wagner College
Brian Rawls – Colgate University

It remains a mystery where the Big Central’s most highly-sought after recruit – Union athlete/DB Davison Igbinosun – will sign, but it appears he may be waiting until the All-American Bowl on January 8th. Union head coach Lou Grasso Jr. told Central Jersey Sports Radio that last week, but Igbinosun stirred the Internet Tuesday night with a Twitter graphic showing him and his brother Desmond, who’s currently at Rutgers, saying “Brothers for Life” adding “Next stop… Rutgers.”

That tweet posted at 8:49 p.m., and stood on its own for about 40 minutes, until 9:29 pm, when three more posts were made, showing similar recruiting-style graphics from Ole Miss, Tennessee and Kentucky, just three more among the 30-plus major D-1 offers Igbinosun holds, according to Grasso.

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