EAST ST. LOUIS — Once a lethal duo at East St. Louis High School, the passing combination of Lamontiez Ivy and Daniel Williams will soon be reunited again.
An all-Southwestern Conference wide receiver and one of the top deep threats in Southern Illinois, the 6-foot-3 200-pound Williams has signed to attend Jackson State in Jackson, Miss. Williams, who caught 39 passes for 729 yards and eight touchdowns in helping the Flyers reach the Class 7A playoffs this past season, is the second Flyer in two years to choose Jackson State.
A freshman, Ivy was a backup quarterback for the Tigers during the 2012 season. He did not see any action.
Williams, who had given a verbal commitment to Ball State, made his college choice official Wednesday, during a brief ceremony at East St. Louis High School.
"I went down on Friday and just really liked everything about the school. The coaches, the facilities, the players ... everything was first class,'' Williams said. "I talked to Lamontiez and he said he really liked it down there. It's a place where I think I'll get a chance to show what I can do and also get an education. It's a place where I can be happy.''
In addition to Williams, Flyers all-SWC linebacker Markese Jackson announced that he will play football at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Jackson will be a preferred walk-on, meaning he will receive many of the same benefits as a scholarship player.
Jackson will redshirt during the 2013 season.
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said that Williams and Jackson are players who have done things the right way during their high school careers and are now seeing the rewards.
"First of all, they are two great kids who took care of their work in the classroom, worked hard in the summer, didn't miss practice and just continued to get better as time went on," Sunkett said. "Now they're seeing the benefits of that hard work. I think it's great that Daniel will be reunited with Lamontiez down at Jackson State. He'll already know somebody when he gets down there. I think Carbondale is a great spot for Markese. He'll get a chance to show what he can do down there.''
Williams said he wasn't disappointed Ball State didn't work out.
"They were looking for somebody smaller with more speed,'' Williams said. "I wasn't upset because I had the backup plan at Jackson State.
Jackson, a 6-0, 195-pound middle linebacker, was the heart of the Flyers defense. An all-SWC performer, Jackson was in on 110 tackles, with 75 solos. He also had four quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery during the 2012 season.
Jackson, who plans on majoring in mass communications, will play either middle or outside linebacker for the Salukis.
"It's a great school with an excellent football program. I think they've made the playoffs seven out of the last 10 years,'' Jackson said. "I just really liked it from the time I stepped on the campus. They made me feel like family.''
Jackson said he also looked at Lincoln and Greenville Colleges, among others. He said not being a scholarship player this season will help him.
"It will make me even hungrier to show them what I can do so that I will be scholarshiped next year," Jackson said. "I'm redshirting, so I won't lose a year of eligibility. I know I've got to get bigger, stronger and faster, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to be able to play college football.''