CARTHAGE — Carthage senior running back Keaontay Ingram committed to the University of Texas in May of 2017. And on Wednesday, he finally made it official.

Ingram, along with 10 other Carthage High School student-athletes, signed their national letters of intent as part of National Signing Day during a morning ceremonial at the CISD Performing Arts Center.

“It means a lot to me,” said Ingram (6-0, 190), who is rated as the state’s No. 1 running back by 247sports.com. “It takes the pressure off my mom that I’m getting a free education, and she doesn’t have to pay for nothing. As a kid you wanna do something like this and now it’s finally here.”

Ingram had almost 30 Division I offers, including open invitations from Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M, and USC.

But there was something different about the Longhorns.

“It’s the type of energy that hasn’t been there in a long time,” Ingram said. “It doesn’t look too good right now but all the recruits are on the same page and have the same mindset: to go in there and change the program around.”

According to 247sports, Texas has the third-best 2018 recruiting class in the nation. Fellow East Texan, Arp safety DeMarvion Overshown, signed with the Longhorns in December.

Ingram capped a stellar high school career with back-to-back state championships. Last season, he rushed for 2,325 yards and 37 touchdowns in helping the Bulldogs go 16-0 and repeat as Class 4A Division I champs.

He was soaking up the atmosphere in front of family and friends Wednesday morning.

“They’re my brothers,” Ingram said of his teammates' signings. “I know the amount of work they’ve put in, in the offseason and how much dedication they put into it. To go on the stage and sign that means a lot, it shows that hard work pays off.”

Five other Carthage football players signed scholarships as well.

Bulldogs receivers Dewaylon Ingram and Dee Bowens will remain teammates in college after both signed with Sam Houston State. Dewaylon Ingram (6-1, 175) had 60 catches for 1,061 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2017, while Bowens led the team with 62 receptions, 1,444 yards and 23 TD’s.

“It’s very special because I know we’re gonna go out there and make plays,” Dewaylon Ingram said of teaming up with Bowens in college.

The Carthage linebacking tandem of Ahmad Brown and Mykel Gates also signed Wednesday.

Brown (6-0, 230) will play at Tarleton State University after posting 161 tackles (23 for loss), three sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2017.

“For me personally I think it’s a special day being one of the first ones in my family to go to college,” Brown said. “It’s a blessing that I got a free education and I won’t have to put the burden on my parents.”

Gates (6-0, 216), meanwhile, will be attending Blinn College with a chip on his shoulder.

“Blinn is just a stepping stone for me,” said Gates, who had a team-high 165 tackles (20 for loss) with three sacks and a defensive TD last season. “I’m trying to get there, get out and go D-I. It was just a good environment. I knew some of the coaches like (Eddie Jones) and they told me I would get in and get out.”

Carthage defensive back Mekhi Colbert will also go the junior college rout at Tyler.

Colbert was a standout on both sides of the ball in 2017, but will most likely play defensive back in college. He had 43 tackles, seven interceptions, and one defensive touchdown last season.

Carthage also had two volleyball signees — Matti Doffitt (Mary Hardin-Baylor) and Courtney Edge (Eastfield College) — along with a pair of softball signees — Hope Kruebbe (Chipola College) and Carson Robertson (UT Tyler).

Callahan Baldree signed a baseball scholarship with Weatherford College.