Southfield — Ray Buford and 19 of his teammates at Southfield High signed national letters of intent Wednesday morning at the school's fieldhouse in front of several hundred people, including family members and friends.
Buford was part of a Division 1 secondary that helped Southfield win the Division 2 regional championship this season, finishing 9-4 with a semifinal loss to eventual state champion Warren De La Salle.
"It's a great day and I'm excited to sign these papers and get things rolling," said Buford, a cornerback who will play at Minnesota. "I'm so proud of everybody who is signing today. It's a big accomplishment.
"We had a special team. We wish we could have taken the state championship, but we did a lot of things people didn't expect us to do. We beat our number one rival, Oak Park, twice and that was a big deal."
So, why Minnesota?
"I chose Minnesota because they were the first Big Ten team to choose me," Buford said. "They had faith in me and I have faith in them. I'll play cornerback in college and I'm looking forward to it."
Safety Dior Johnson will be joining Buford at Minnesota. Cornerback Davontae Ginwright will be going to Western Michigan and safety Ja'Mar Antwine committed to Central Michigan, but will be attending Atlanta Prep School instead.
"We had some lock down kids in the secondary," Ginwright said. "Winning the regional championship was big, but we really wanted to win state. My highlight was when I had two picks (interceptions) in the playoff win over (Detroit) King.
"I'm going to Western Michigan because I like coach (P.J.) Fleck. He seemed real interested in me and I liked the program, it felt like home. They're building something big there."
And, yes Ginwright is proud of his teammates.
"It feels good to see everybody continuing their football careers," he said. "It makes us feel like we got something accomplished. All the hard work we put in during the offseason paid off for us."
Southfield coach Tim Conley was thrilled to see so many players signing with their parents looking on, then joining them at the table to put their own signatures on the national letters of intent.
"It's been a lot of hard work, not much for the top notch kids who are going Division I, but for some of the others," Conley said. "I think we had five Division I, two I-AA, 10 Division II, one Division III, one NAIA and then one to a prep school.
"We had 18 kids sign last year, 14 on signing day, then four more did Division III or Junior College packages so those two groups together have been incredible, really an incredible group of kids."
Southfield High's signees
Ja'Mar Antwine – Atlanta Prep School
Ray Buford – Minnesota
Adrian Carter – Austin Peay
Aaron Cooper – Grand Valley
Makeen Culpepper - Alabama A&M
Cristian Daniels – Olivet
Armani Davis – Malone
Devin Davis – Urbana
Keith Dewberry – Lake Erie College
Ricky Foxhall – North Carolina A&T
Jeremy Gates – Saginaw Valley
Davontae Ginwright – Western Michigan
Calvin Graves – Grand Valley
Marques Grimes – Ohio
Charles Harris – Buffalo
Kanye Harris - Northwood
Dior Johnson – Minnesota
Adrian Springer – Tiffin
Josh Stovall – Siena Heights
Aaron Turner – Grand Valley