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West Forsyth seniors Crowell, Hughes sign to Division I programs
West Forsyth
West Forsyth seniors Jack Hughes, left, and Wyatt Crowell signed Thursday to Division I programs. Hughes will play football at Marist College, while Crowell will play baseball at Florida State. - photo by David Roberts

Wyatt Crowell has seen Florida State at the peak of college athletics. 

Now, he's getting his own chance to return the Seminoles to national prominence.

Crowell joined fellow West Forsyth senior Jack Hughes in signing his National Letter of Intent on Thursday, as Crowell pledged to continue his baseball career in Tallahassee.

“My dad’s been an FSU fan his whole life, so I kind of grew into that," Crowell said. "When I was younger, I was an FSU fan and FSU football is really fun to watch — kind of not anymore, but they used to be.”

Hughes signed to play football at Marist College after racking up 174 tackles in his past two seasons with the Wolverines.

“Well, I had a whole bunch of schools talking to me, but Marist is the one that threw out the offer," Hughes said. "They brought me up to the school and took me on a one-on-one tour – it wasn’t like there were any other kids there. They took me through the school and it was just everything about them. They love me, I love them. I went up there and I just fell in love.”

Hughes, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebacker, was part of a stingy defense that buckled down during region play and held its opponents to 18.6 points per game.

Hughes fell short of his 104-tackle mark from his junior year, a small price to pay to be part of the Wolverines' parsimonious unit. 

“Above all that, it was just the brotherhood we had,"  Hughes said. "We all liked each other. We were willing to sacrifice a tackle for someone else to make it in the right place. We wouldn’t be selfish. We played as a team. As you can see, with the linebacking corps, none of us really had — except Eli (Orr) — none of us really had an outstanding number of tackles because we played as a team. We did our jobs.”

Marist is a Division I FCS program in Poughkeepsie, New York, that competes in the Pioneer Football League.

Along with the school's finance major, Hughes said the proximity of the campus appealed to him because he has family in New Jersey. 

“It’s a great place to be, because all my family lives up there, too," Hughes said. "People are going to come to the game that I want to be at the game. They all live in New Jersey, so they can be able to make it to my games.” 

Jack Hughes
West Forsyth senior Jack Hughes, left, signs his National Letter of Intent on Thursday to play football at Marist College as his mother, Donna Hughes, looks on. - photo by David Roberts

Crowell, the reigning Forsyth County News Player of the Year, grew up watching Florida State and credits the 2014 national championship team, led by two-way player Jameis Winston, with strengthening his love of the program. 

"That’s when I really fell in love with FSU," he said. "Because when you’re young, you want to see a good team play and watch them win. So that was a lot of fun.”

Crowell will head to Tallahassee as a pitcher despite flashing his potential at the plate last year.

After being shut down early in his junior season because of elbow discomfort, Crowell wreaked havoc on offense, hitting .414 while smacking seven doubles and three triples. 

But Crowell realizes his future is on the rubber, where he posted a 2.10 ERA in 30 innings as a sophomore. Crowell said he's worked to develop his arm strength through weighted-ball programs to complement his offspeed pitches.

“My best pitch is my curveball," Crowell said. "That’s what I started getting recruited for, is my curveball.”

Before he gets to Florida State, though, Crowell hopes to lead a renaissance at West Forsyth. The Wolverines finished 11-18 last year, including a 3-12 mark in Region 5-7A play.

“The last two years haven’t been too strong," Crowell said, "so this year we’re trying to turn it around and shock everybody, win the region and try to make a run in the playoffs.”

Wyatt Crowell
West Forsyth senior Wyatt Crowell, second from left, signs his National Letter of Intent on Thursday to play baseball at Florida State. Pictured, from left, father Les Crowell, Wyatt Crowell, brother Cooper Crowell, mother Kelley Crowell and sister Sadie Crowell. - photo by David Roberts