Marion High School Athletics


Five Patriots ink on Signing Day

Photo Credit: Chuck Livingston


Five players who played major roles on Marion football teams that won 23 games over the past three seasons signed on Wednesday to continue their college careers. Carter Benton, Kendal Brister, DeAngelo Foreman, Ashton Gray, and Dewayne Williams signed with their respective schools in the Marion Performing Arts Center on Wednesday morning, marking Marion's largest signing day class in five years. “The kids signing to play college ball here today have learned all the lessons that you have to learn to become successful football players,” said Marion coach Lance Clark at the ceremony. “I am very excited for them. This game teaches you how to be tough, how to work through adversity and learn some tough life lessons. These guys have all learned those life lessons, and I couldn't be more proud of them for that.” Benton, who signed with Arkansas Tech in Russellville, caps his Marion career as a three-year starter, and a two-time all-conference selection. He started at tackle, guard, and center during his career, and played them all well. Benton locked a starting role in August of 2021 as a sophomore and never left the lineup, save for a pair of 2022 games that he missed due to injury. “The coaches and staff at (Arkansas) Tech are super excited about getting Carter on board there,” said Clark. “Carter has one of the more consistent players we've had during my time here at Marion. He never complains, he's excellent in the classroom, and he gives great effort and output every day.” Brister signed with Central Arkansas, a Division 1-AA subdivision school, located in Conway. The all-conference defensive back took over a safety in October of his sophomore year and never relinquished his role, finishing his Marion career with 101 tackles, six interceptions, and a fumble recovery. Brister saved his best for last, racking up 45 tackles as a senior and intercepting a team-high six passes. He plans to run track and play soccer this spring. “The UCA coaches love the growth that Kendal has shown as a player and a person during his time at Marion,” said Clark. “They're really excited about his growth potential at the collegiate level.” Foreman will continue his college career with Arkansas Baptist, based out of Little Rock. He earned three letters during his Marion career as a sure tackler and as the team's special teams ace. Foreman racked up 23 teams on special teams alone during his senior season to easily lead that unit, while also earning time at linebacker. “Arkansas Baptist met DeAngelo and really liked his potential as a player, and also as a leader,” said Clark. “This is a super high-character young man who has sacrificed a lot during his time here for the betterment of his teammates. The Buffs are very fortunate to be adding a versatile, young player, with great academics and character.” Gray signed on Wednesday with North Texas, and Division 1 football program, located in Denton, Texas. The all-state performer and two-time Team Captain rewrote the Marion record books in his two seasons as the team's starting signal-caller. Gray rushed for 2,184 yards and 32 touchdowns in his three seasons, and he passed for 2,989 yards and 30 scores. Gray's 2023 is likely the most productive offensive season in the history of the program, which dates back to the early 1940s. As a senior, Gray amassed 3,251 total yards (1,919 rushing and 1,332 passing) with 43 touchdowns (30 rushing and 13 passing). “I am beyond proud of Ashton Gray, not just for his accolades and stats because those speak for themselves, but for how much he's grown as a leader over his career,” said Clark. “He's got unbelievable confidence. He went through ups and downs here as a player, but all that adversity has made him very tough, and I think he proved that this year. He's extremely steady, he's a great leader for them. North Texas only signed one running back this year, and he's sitting right there.” Williams will join Brister at Central Arkansas, a program that signed 15 Arkansas kids in the 2024 class. The three-time letterman and all-conference performer wraps his Marion football career with 160 career tackles, including 15 behind the line of scrimmage, with two interceptions. He cracked the starting lineup as a junior, when he finished second on the Marion tackle chart with 66 tackles, and a crucial interception to give the Pats field position to spark Marion's first victory ever over El Dorado. He was better than ever as a senior, leading Marion with 86 tackles, including seven tackles for loss. “The UCA coaches have all called D. Will a steal,” said Clark. “He's got tremendous upside as an excellent athlete. He's extremely well-liked and respected by his teammates. His best football is absolutely in front of him. He's humble, hard-working, and extremely bright. He will make an impact at UCA just as he's done here.”

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