Ferndale High student-athletes sign letters of intent

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published March 6, 2018

 Ferndale High recently had three student-athletes sign letters of intent to play football at the next level. Pictured with Ferndale coach Eric Royal are, from left, KeShawn Smith, Anthony Merriman and John Thompson.

Ferndale High recently had three student-athletes sign letters of intent to play football at the next level. Pictured with Ferndale coach Eric Royal are, from left, KeShawn Smith, Anthony Merriman and John Thompson.

Photo by Donna Agusti

FERNDALE — Ferndale High’s KeShawn Smith, Anthony Merriman and John Thompson each signed letters of intent March 1 to play football at the next level. Merriman and Thompson signed with Olivet College, which is an NCAA Division III program, and Smith with Siena Heights University, which is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

All three players earned first-team All-Oakland Activities Association selections at the high school level.

Smith said he will play safety at Siena Heights.

“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was in little league, trying to make it to college,” Smith said. “Talked about it my whole high school career, about basically sitting at this table signing and going to a college. … I can save money for my mom. She doesn’t have to pay.”

Merriman is slotted to play either defensive back or receiver, or possibly both. His aspiration for the Comets is a lofty one.

“I want a national championship,” Merriman said. “That would be great, to especially do that as a freshman.”

Thompson also expects to be a defensive back at the next level. Although his signing represents a new phase in his life, it might be hard to duplicate the impact his time at Ferndale has had on him.

“Coming in from Oak Park my freshman year to Ferndale my sophomore year, it changed me dramatically,” Thompson said. “It changed me to a whole different person. It changed me dramatically as a person and a football player.”

Having a chance to play for the same team could make for richer collegiate experiences for both Thompson and Merriman.

“We’ve been best friends since we got here, and I believe this is a dream for both of us to play football together,” Thompson said. “I don’t even think this was planned. I think this happened by faith.”

Having an old high school teammate nearby can also make the transition to the collegiate level a lot easier for Merriman.

“It’s great,” Merriman said. “It’s a bond, somebody I can count on putting in work with.”

Ferndale coach Eric Royal played collegiate football at Lakeland College in Wisconsin, and his experiences can help put his players in the same position.

“We really try to model our program after things we learned in college, so I know if they can handle it here, they’re (going to) be very successful transitioning to college,” Royal said. “Expectations are high, so it really tells a lot about the students and their determination to continue their career and education (at) the next level.”

Smith discussed what he can take from being a part of Ferndale’s program.

“Basically, stay on top of your game and work hard,” Smith said. “Listening and using what you were taught to your advantage.”