NEW LONDON -- Tyree Wilson sat in front of about 70 people tucked away in West Rusk's gymnasium Wednesday.

A letter of intent to play football for Texas A&M during the 2018-19 season lay on the table where he sat. He took a pen and signed the appropriate places. There was applause.

The next five minutes consisted of him posing for pictures, pretending to sign the document over and over. Next, his teammates and coaches came for group pictures. After that his family and friends, draped in Aggie gear, lined up one by one as photographers and videographers grabbed their shots.

He then walked over to reporters to field questions. It won't be last interview for Wilson, who is about to take a much bigger stage in College Station. It might, however, be his last interview at the high school in New London, a town of just less than 1,000. Before dismissing the crowd, coach John Frazier gave a small speech.

"As you move on to this next chapter in your life, just know you will always have your biggest fans here in West Rusk," he said.

Wilson seems ready for the next phase. After he skipped out on the early signing period, there was speculation on whether Wilson would stick out his commitment with the Aggies. When Texas A&M fired coach Kevin Sumlin, that only added to the rumors.

Wilson said Arkansas made a hard push that forced him to weigh his options. In the end, it was Terry Price, the defensive end coach who stayed with the Aggies, that gave him confidence to do the same.

"It just felt like home," Wilson said. " I have a great relationship with coach Price. He stayed and I just couldn't beat it."

The recruiting process, despite being an avenue for every high school athlete's dream, can weigh on one. Wilson said though he is happy to get to Texas A&M, he is relieved to be done with it.

"It's exciting, but kind of annoying," he said. "All the coaches trying to hit you up and say this school is good and all that. But it's the best thing that happened to me, going to A&M on a full ride scholarship. I'm going to make the best of it."

Wilson finished the 2017 season with 126 tackles and 38 tackles for loss, which led the area. He also had five sacks and forced five fumbles. He was the leader of a defense that allowed only 9 points per game and held Class 3A Division II state champion Newton to its lowest point total of the season.

Frazier, having seen Wilson grow in his time with the Raiders, assured that the stats don't lie. The Aggies are getting a physical and dedicated athlete at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds.

"They're getting one of the best," Frazier said. "They're getting a grounded kid that's very humbled. He's going to grow to love his coaches and teammates. He's going to go out there and do a lot of great things, not just for himself, but for his family and the people of West Rusk."

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