National Signing Day: Dwyer star Xavier Scott signs with Illinois football
PALM BEACH GARDENS — Dwyer senior Xavier Scott was all smiles at the Panthers' National Signing Day ceremony in the school gym on Wednesday morning.
With a few pen strokes, he put months of uncertainty to rest and secured a place in Power 5 college football.
Scott accepted a late offer to join Bret Bielema's Illinois Fighting Illini on Wednesday, following through on an offer and commitment that came together in the last 10 days.
"I'm definitely excited. I'm Big Ten, baby, and I just can't wait to get up there and show what I have," Scott said.
"When we walked out of that office [after the Illinois offer], it was with a smile because we were ready to commit."
Listed at 6-foot, 180 pounds, Scott is rated a three-star defensive back prospect according to 247 Sports. He fielded seven Division I offers, including Florida Atlantic, Pitt, Navy and Air Force.
Scott played wherever needed for the Panthers football team over the past few years, often roving the secondary on defense or creating explosive plays on offense. Dwyer finished 4-6 in 2021.
Injuries limited the playmaker during his senior football campaign and he ultimately decided to step away from the Dwyer boys basketball team in December to focus on his football future. Scott was the starting point guard and "leader" in the Panthers' run to the state championship game last season.
Scott admitted the struggles had been hard on him over recent months, but said he leaned on his family and kept believing he'd find the right college opportunity.
On Jan. 25, Illinois defensive coordinator Ryan Walters offered Scott, who committed to the Fighting Illini on Monday.
"I definitely doubted myself a couple times, especially to my dad," Scott said. "We talked many nights and he told me everything was going to be OK and to just follow my dreams."
State champion diver heads to Appalachia
Class 4A 1-meter diving state champion Christian Torres is trading the sunshine and flat ground of South Florida for the mountains and country roads of West Virginia.
Torres officially signed with the Mountaineers at Wednesday's ceremony, the latest achievement in a banner year for the diver. In the high school postseason, Torres swept district, region and state titles.
Torres reflected on the high's and low's of his six years in diving in his speech, grateful for the opportunities he'd found at the end of a diving board.
"It's mind-blowing. I've been dreaming of this day for so long of being able to take my diving to the next level," Torres said. "Now that it's actually happening, it's just amazing.
"As a kid I kind of just went with the flow, but now that I'm older, I'm starting to establish goals. I had this moment in my mind and I'm glad it's finally here."
Soccer star turns attention to postseason
Dwyer soccer veteran Julia Ziegenfuss committed to Coastal Carolina last week and made it official with the Catamounts by signing at Wednesday's ceremony.
Ziegenfuss has 43 goals and 16 assists over the past three seasons playing as a forward with the Panthers' varsity girls soccer program.
The signing was a bright moment for a player whose team has battled significant adversity this season with the passing of head coach Kyle Gero in late December.
The Panthers (8-3-1) won all six regular season games since the season restarted in January, including wins over quality programs like Wellington (12-2-2) and Tallahassee Lincoln (12-5-2).
Dwyer will look to keep that momentum in Thursday's District 13-6A championship match against Seminole Ridge (15-3-3). First kick is scheduled for 7 p.m.
"Coming back from the tragedy, we haven't lost a game yet," Ziegenfuss said. "We're definitely a stronger team because of it and it would be nice [to win the district title] just for Coach Gero, his wife and family to show that we're working even harder than we were before to keep his legacy as head coach."
Eric J. Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-525-5087.
National Signing Day at Dwyer High School
Violet Avila, Beach Volleyball, Master's University
Kailyn Jean-Baptiste, Softball, Tennessee State
Tiffany Meek, Florida Gulf Coast
Reid Kerr, Lacrosse, Embry-Riddle
Zack Robinson, Baseball, Central Connecticut State
Xavier Scott, Football, Illinois
Fabian Smith, Football, Lake Erie College
Christian Torres, Diving, West Virginia
Julia Ziegenfuss, Soccer, Coastal Carolina