GILMER -- Choosing a college can be a tough decision for any high school student. But throw in the opportunity to advance an athletic career and you've got a whole different animal to tackle.

It took Kris Boyd about a year and a half to come to the decision he should sign with the first school that offered him. The Gilmer defensive back signed with Texas on Wednesday, 605 days after the Longhorns broke the ice and became the first of 13 power conference schools to offer him.

Boyd committed to the Longhorns last week in favor of fellow finalist Texas A&M, but he continued to grapple with the decision behind closed doors.

Gilmer's Kris Boyd runs the ball during the Buckeyes' 35-25 win over West Orange-Stark in the Class 4A Division II state championship game on Dec. 19, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

"It's a huge relief," Boyd, dressed in a long sleeve Longhorn shirt and camo pants, said after faxing his letter in. "But then you get kind of a weird type feeling in your stomach thinking about all the other opportunities that you had with other schools. It wasn't really an easy decision for me choosing UT over A&M.

"I still think about it now, even when I was in there signing the papers. It was just a hard decision. A&M was still in the back of my head, but I'm pretty sure when you make a decision and choose something over something else there's always going to be a thought of the other outcome."

Aside from Boyd's finalists of Texas and Texas A&M, the defensive back had 11 other standing offers to choose from. Within the state, he held offers from TCU and Texas Tech. The list was rounded out by Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Boyd headlined a group of six other Buckeyes that signed with six different colleges Wednesday. The group will join Gilmer athlete Blake Lynch -- who is already enrolled at Baylor -- in the collegiate football sphere.

Quarterback McLane Carter, East Texas' leading passer, signed off with Incarnate Word. Receiver Nick Smith joined Southland Conference rival Houston Baptist.

Defensive lineman Dakota Williamson and receiver Chase Tate signed into the Division II ranks. Williamson inked with East Central University in Oklahoma and Tate will join several other regional standouts at Texas A&M-Commerce.

Quinn Fluellen, a fourth Gilmer receiver heading to the next level, faxed in his letter to Trinity Valley Community College for an opportunity to be re-recruited by a four-year school.

Together, with Lynch, Wednesday's six college-bound players helped the team to the 2014 Class 4A Division II state championship.

Boyd, however, had the double-edged sword of sorting through the most options.

"It was a tough decision between my top two schools," Boyd said. "I was stressing about it and thinking over it. But coach (Charlie) Strong is a good coach. His coaching staff is good. I fit their scheme. I've already talked to all of them and he's known for defense. So why not go play for him and those coaches?"

Losing the key defensive back to Texas A&M would have been rough for the Longhorns.

Texas A&M won the most top-flight East Texas recruits. It gained signatures from Whitehouse safety Justin Dunning, Newton defensive back Roney Elam, Gladewater defensive tackle Daylon Mack, Lufkin offensive lineman Erik McCoy and Sulphur Springs athlete Larry Pryor.

Baylor added three East Texas recruits, including Lynch. Texas Tech won two recruits from the region.

Boyd's signature helped Texas hold ground in the region after a 6-7 season and gives the Longhorns a new point of reference for its East Texas prospects.

"It was very tough decision, but you kind of have to think this is your decision," the Gilmer star said. "You have to be selfish and think about your opportunity and not anybody else's."

Gilmer quarterback McLane Carter signs his letter of intent with Incarnate Word alongside his brother and current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback G.J. Kinne and another family member. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)
 Carter Gets His Shot

Head coach Jeff Traylor and Kris Boyd vented their frustrations with college's lack of interest in quarterback McLane Carter just minutes after Gilmer capped a 35-25 win against West Orange-Stark for the Class 4A Division II crown.

The Buckeyes' signal caller threw for 3,969 yards and 47 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 16 games despite sitting more than 20 quarters due to the team's dominance over opponents in the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs.

Carter got a few bites in January and finally landed an offer from Incarnate Word in San Antonio. He signed with the Cardinals on Wednesday.

"It was maybe two weeks ago I got a call from them and they said, 'You're the guy. We want you to come take an official (visit)'" Carter said. "I went down there and loved everything about it. I thought a couple of days and I made a commitment. I'm very happy with my commitment."

Carter will join an Incarnate Word program that launched in 2007. It began Southland Conference play against popular local destination teams, including Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin last season and finished the year with a 2-9 overall record.

The team is in position for future success, however. It only lost 12 seniors and should have about 75 letter winners returning to the 2015 roster.

Head coach Larry Kennan has a long history of success. A long-time NFL offensive coordinator, he won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1984 and a World Football Championship as the head coach of the London Monarchs in 1991.

Kennan spent time as the offensive coordinator for the Colts, Seahawks and Patriots franchises before retiring from coaching in the NFL after the 1997 season. He was the executive director of the NFL Coaches Association for the 13 years prior to taking the Incarnate Word job in 2011.

"He's been around," Carter said. "He's been in the NFL. He's won a Super Bowl ring. He's been around a lot and knows his stuff. He's been around some great players and I respect him a lot for that."

Boyd was very pleased for his Gilmer teammate.

"They're getting the best quarterback," Boyd, who caught for 808 yards and nine touchdowns as a senior, said. "You look at his stats, he led his team to state. I've seen quarterbacks all around the nation. None of them impress me the way he has. He's a ball player."

Gilmer receiver Quinn Fluellen signs his letter of intent to Trinity Valley Community College with friends and family. (Rob Graham, ETSN.fm)
Fluellen Heads To The NJCAA

Quinn Fluellen probably has not signed with a college football program for a final team.

One of the spark plugs in the state championship rally from a 25-7 deficit, the receiver signed with Trinity Valley Community College in Athens and hopes to get more looks from four-year schools in later seasons.

"I'm hoping for a lot of success and just to get re-recruited to possibly take the Division I route," Fluellen said. "It's really exciting to sign. I never thought it would happen. It's shocking. But I thank God for getting me this far."

Despite competing for possessions with fellow seniors Kris Boyd, Blake Lynch, Chase Tate and Nick Smith, Fluellen caught 46 passes for 639 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

"Quinn chose to go a different route," head coach Jeff Traylor said. "What's interesting is all seven kids signed with different schools. I thought that was interesting. That makes me proud. My kids are being individuals. They're not just going with their buddies. They're doing what they think is best for them. Quinn thinks he can still play at a higher level and wanted to go the junior college route. Kudos to him. He'll be re-recruited and I think he was under recruited as well."