As a junior, Jeff Surrell got to watch from the sidelines as his brother worked his way to a college scholarship.
It was a lesson well learned for Surrell, who returned from injury for his senior season to earn himself a place at East Central University. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound defensive back signed his letter of intent with ECU on Wednesday at Ardmore High School.
"For four years, I didn't think I would be this far," Surrel said. "It's a blessing. I've got great coaches. The ability to be here right now is exciting."
Surrell, who led Ardmore with five interceptions as a senior, was one of three returning starters for Ardmore this season.
After splitting time between offense and defense at Ardmore, Surrell will get a chance to play on one side of the ball at ECU. He said that'll give him more of a chance to develop his technique and work on his craft.
While Surrell, who missed a majority of his junior season with an ankle injury, grew during his time off the field in 2011, Ardmore coach Douglas Wendel said Surrell grew even more as a leader for the young Tigers this fall. Surrell was one of four Ardmore players to earn All-Ardmoreite Super Team honors.
"Over the last 12-15 months, he's embraced that opportunity that was put before him — to play quarterback, to play cornerback, to play slot receiver — whatever was asked of him," Wendel said. "He closed the deal and did it.
"I'm as proud of him as any kid I've coached."
Surrell celebrated his signing with a message to the large crowd of students and administration in attendance: One of us goes to East Central, we all go to East Central.
Not only was it a tribute to his support system, it was also symbolic of his relationship with his brother, Josiah Reed.
Reed, an All-Ardmoreite Super Team selection in 2011, is currently playing football at Northeastern Oklahoma State in Tahlequah.
Surrell said having a brother go through the recruiting process made his a lot easier. Surrell had a shot to play with his brother for NSU, but said he received the blessing of Reed to seek his own opportunities.
"He just told me that if I go to East Central to just do my thing, to be me. We're still gonna be brothers, regardless," Surrell said.
"I just felt comfortable there. They're winning, they have a lot of fans at the games. Plus, it's close to home."
"You've got to give some credit to Jo, his older brother, who was a great model for him," Wendel said. "[...] To see this type of success, to finish with good grades and to see how this opens doors for you."
Page 2 of 2 - Surrell's father, Jeff Reed, said the hard work paid off for his two sons.
"What we try to enstill in them is excellence, and to strive to do your best," Jeff Reed said. "The hard work and the dedication paid off."
Erik K. Horne