In what is quickly becoming a Ridgeland football tradition, another Panther standout has received his first Division I college football offer.
Rising senior Jermane Conyers got the offer from the University of Indiana on Monday, and the offer came from a name very familiar to folks in the Rossville area - Jon Fabris, the son of former Rossville High coach Frank Fabris, who led the Bulldogs to a 13-0 season and the 1962 Class AA state championship.
Fabris coached defensive ends at the University of Georgia from 2001-2009, and was hired by Indiana for the same position in 2012.
"It's very exciting, and I was actually kind of shocked how fast it happened," said the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder, who has been clocked with 4.7 speed. "Playing college football has been a dream of mine since I started playing when I was four years old."
Mariakis said the offer came just over five hours after Fabris saw Conyers for the first time.
"All Coach Fabris had was Jermane's name on the prospect sheet I sent out and that's all he knew about him," the Ridgeland coach explained. "He came down here Monday morning about 11:15. He watched Jermane work out in the weight room for about an hour, and then he and I spent an hour watching film."
After e-mailing film of Conyers to Indiana's head coach and defensive coordinator, Mariakis said Fabris stayed after school to watch Jermane do some agility drills.
"Apparently he also talked to the head coach and the defensive coordinator again at some point, because by 4:30 p.m., they were making him an offer," Mariakis said. "So it was essentially about five hours from seeing Jermane for the first time to offering him a full ride. I guess it was a good thing Jermane was at school that day. It was quite a day for him."
Conyers said he liked what he heard from Fabris about the Hoosiers program.
"I really liked (Coach Fabris)," he said. "He was really straightforward with me. He told me how it was going to be and what I needed to know as a recruit."
Mariakis said Indiana likes Conyers as a defensive lineman, but they also think he could play on the offensive line with his agility.
"I don't think he's the kind of guy that can stretch the field for them as a tight end, at least not at this point in time," Mariakis added, "but he's big, strong, and athletic, so I'm sure he'll help somebody somewhere."
Conyers said he's learned a lot about the recruiting game by observing how his former teammates handled things during their own recruitments.
"You just have to stay calm, relax, and just play," he said. "If you do that, the recruiters will come."
Mariakis said UTC and Middle Tennessee State have also shown interest, but with spring drills just over a week away, he expects the recruitment of Conyers to ramp up even more, especially now that his first offer is in hand.
"He's got a great opportunity," the coach added. "He knows the ball is in his court. He has to keep his grades up and have a great senior season, but this is something that he's been working for and it's something all of our kids work for. If you do what you're supposed to do, you'll have a chance to go play."
Ridgeland's spring practice begins Wednesday, May 8. The annual spring game is set for Thursday, May 23 at 6 p.m.