For the second time this year, a Ridgeland High School football player has made a Big Ten Conference coach smile. Five months after Vonn Bell chose Ohio State and Urban Meyer on national signing day, Panthers senior Jermane Conyers committed to Indiana University on Friday night.
Conyers, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound defensive lineman, picked the Hoosiers in large part because of the relationship he's formed with defensive ends coach Jon Fabris. Fabris, a former University of Georgia assistant coach, is the son of legendary Rossville coach Frank Fabris.
"Honestly, I loved everything about it -- the campus, the coaches, the players and especially the way they stress academics," Coners said. "They are doing a good job recruiting right now, and they're on their way up. They had me ranked as their top tackle [recruit], so that made me feel good."
Ridgeland coach Mark Mariakis, who has had at least one major college recruit in six of the last seven years, believes the fit will be good for both sides.
"Jermane is a kid who has matured mentally and physically more than anybody we've had here, and we've always known he could be something special," Mariakis said. "He's got a great skill set to play as a defensive end or tackle. He can move (4.71 in the 40-yard dash) and he has long arms, which is a major factor for linemen.
"From day one he's felt comfortable with Coach Fabris and Indiana. Coach Fabris talked to Jermane about more than just football, which impressed him and made him feel at home because he's heard that kind of talk around here for four years."
Conyers, rated a three-star recruit by 247sports.com, has 10 offers, including from Western Kentucky, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Marshall. Ending his recruitment before training camp starts was one of his goals.
"It's nice in that it takes a lot of stress off you and you don't have to worry about getting hurt," he said. "I can now concentrate on my senior season."
Conyers can't help but look ahead a bit, though. He's already thinking about a possible reunion with Bell when the Hoosiers and Buckeyes meet.
"Yeah, I've thought about it and I would love to play against Vonn," he said. "I enjoyed playing with him as a teammate, and I would love to play against him in college."
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.