Cass Tech’s James Ester headlines large PSL contingent signing with colleges

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Cass Tech High School's Jaylen Billings shakes hands with teammate James Ester after Ester announces he will be attending Northern Illinois University.

Detroit – Detroit Cass Tech defensive end James Ester was dressed in red Wednesday morning during a National Signing Day event for PSL players at the Horatio Williams Foundation.

Ester, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end, earned a spot on The Detroit News All-Detroit first-team after making 16 TFL, including 10 sacks, to help Cass Tech earn a PSL championship.

Ester signed with Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois. He recently took official visits to Akron and Northern Illinois, which both have new coaches – Tom Arth at Akron and Thomas Hammock at Northern Illinois.

More: Local recruiting: Tommy Schuster flips to North Dakota, Tyrece Woods heads to Buffalo

More: Blue Chip players Darius Robinson, Devin Nicholson still excited to play for Missouri

“It was crazy, really came to the last minute, but in the end when I went there it just felt like it was home, the place that I needed to be,” said Ester, whose host at Northern Illinois during his visit this past weekend was former Cass Tech quarterback Rodney Hall. “It definitely helped me (to have Hall), a guy I know and who I have been in contact with before, explain their experience at the school.

“It’s exciting to be coming in with a new head coach so everyone will have a clean slate, just to know that I’ll be able to show what I can do immediately. I’ll be playing strong side defensive end or weak side, so I’ll either be in a four-point stance or standing up as a rush end and just trying to go after the passer really.”

The PSL said 60 players in total signed in December and on Wednesday to play college football, at all divisions.

Central High School's Victor Nelson Jr. will be attending Saginaw Valley State University.

Detroit Central defensive tackle and offensive lineman Victor Nelson signed with Saginaw Valley. He got in on 17 TFL, including 12 sacks, to earn a spot on The News All-Detroit first-team.

“The coaching staff is very good, Coach (Joe) Perri, that’s my guy who is the D-line coach,” said the 5-11, 290-pound Nelson. “They have a nice indoor facility. I feel the coaching staff is going to better me as a player and a man.”

Ester’s Cass Tech teammate, receiver Jevan Swanigan, will be playing for GLIAC champion Ferris State.

“Ferris is a great school; as you saw last year, they played in the national championship game,” said Swanigan, who caught a 45-yard TD pass in Cass Tech’s PSL title game win over Detroit King. “Ferris State also has a great academic program. The reason I picked them is because everybody there treated me like family and Coach (Tony Annese) was real nice to me, felt like a second home.

“Coach Annese is a really good guy. When I went for the visit he told me that he treats everybody like they are his own son and that’s something that I really love, coming from Cass Tech, because Coach Wilcher treated me like his own son. I can’t wait to get on campus.”

Martin Luther King Jr. High School's Lorenzo White Jr. will be attending Davenport University.

Swanigan will be catching balls thrown by former Cass Tech quarterback and Harlon Hill award winner Jayru Campbell.

King receiver Dominick Polidore-Hannah is still considering Ferris State but hasn’t signed yet. Polidore-Hannah had a pair of TD receptions (22 and 44 yards) in the 41-25 Division 3 state title game win over Muskegon.

Detroit Denby running back T’Shawn Wilkes and his teammate, linebacker Tymetrius Patterson, have also signed with Ferris State.

“I’ll be playing linebacker at Ferris,” said the 6-2, 240-pound Patterson, who played linebacker his senior year at Denby after playing defensive end in previous years. “My vision was better at linebacker because I could see everything and I’m a physical player so I like to hit.”

Detroit King running back Lorenzo White Jr. signed with Davenport, which finished 6-5 (3-5 GLIAC) this past fall after going 1-10 in 2017.

“I got interested in them when I watched them early last season,” said White, who played running back, fullback, defensive line and linebacker at King. “Once they offered me I knew it was an opportunity I needed to jump on.”