By Dan McWilliams
National Signing Day on Feb. 2 was once again a big event for Knoxville Catholic High School student athletes.
Eight seniors from KCHS signed national letters of intent with colleges and universities.
Six Fighting Irish football players signed: Tommy Winton with East Tennessee State University, Javis Mynatt with Wofford College, Josh Turbyville with the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, RaaPhell Mayes with the University of Virginia-Wise, and Eli Jones and Hayden Todd, both with Western Kentucky University. Laney Barber signed in softball with Chattanooga State and Landon Lutterman in baseball with Volunteer State.
Josh Turbyville, whose father, Josh Sr. (’91), played quarterback for the Fighting Irish, served as a kicker and punter for Knoxville Catholic. As a senior in punting, he recorded 45 touchbacks with a 41-yard average, a longest punt of 78 yards, and seven punts that went inside the 20. He is excited about going to UTK, where he will be a preferred walk-on.\
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I grew up watching Tennessee. Being able to sign and know that I’m about to be on TV. The players I saw when I was younger, watching Tyler Bray or Michael Palardy—those people.”
Josh values his KCHS background.
“It means a lot. Through tough times, I sought God, so I could just go home and pray, and I knew everything was going to be OK. Knowing I at least had Him by my side, it helped push me to be better,” he said.
He added that he will miss his fellow Fighting Irish players.
“I will. I’ll also try to keep in touch, but I’m kind of looking forward to the future. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for my Catholic teammates.”
Tommy Winton played wide receiver and defensive back for the Fighting Irish. As a senior, he racked up 35 receptions for 581 yards and 11 touchdowns, rushed seven times for 61 yards, and made eight punt returns for 109 yards and one TD of 55 yards. On defense, he made 31 tackles, including one tackle for loss, with one interception and four pass breakups.
He is looking forward to going to ETSU.
“It’s just a blessing, having a coaching staff believe in me the way they do,” Tommy said.
The KCHS coaching staff also believed in him, he noted.
“They trusted me with everything from year one, really day one, honestly,” Tommy said.
Tommy, like Josh, said he will miss KCHS once he’s in college.
“I’ll miss everybody, the community feel, the way everybody backs up the football program, the way the school backs up the football program, just really everybody in the community and the way they’re for us,” he said.
Knoxville Catholic taught him the value of prayer, Tommy said.
“We pray before everything. Even before we signed, we prayed. If I forget to pray, the school is never going to forget to pray,” he said.