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Ozark's Whatley, along with Nixa's Ward and Antonelli will sign letters of intent


Ozark’s Jace Whatley and Nixa’s Spencer Ward and Jayden Antonelli will be among the area seniors making their commitments official during the February national letter of intent signing day Wednesday.

Whatley will sign with Missouri Southern, Ward with Pitt State (Kansas) and Antonelli with Army.

A Missouri Southern linebacker helped convince Whatley Southern is the right place for him, but don’t be confused. Whatley split his time between linebacker and tight end as a Tiger, but projects as a full-fledged tight end in college.

“I talked to a former Rogersville player (Zach Bergman) and he loves it there. That gave me that final (confirmation) where I could say, 'All right, that's my school,’” Whatley said.

Whatley will join Nixa 2023 grad Kaleb James on the Lions’ roster. He also spoke with James during his Southern visit.

“He's going to be a good friend when I go there,” Whatley said. “My parents even liked him more than I did."

Ward will be part of a double whammy of former Nixa players landing at Pitt State. His older brother, Steven, has transferred from Missouri State to the Gorillas.

Spencer will be a defensive back and Steven a linebacker.

“Ward brothers on same defense = Big problems for offenses,” Steven Ward tweeted.

Rockhurst quarterback Ethan Hansen is among the familiar faces Spencer Ward will know who will become part of Pitt State’s incoming recruiting class. He threw a pair of touchdown passes against Nixa in a Class 6 Quarterfinal last fall.

Antonelli gave the Army a verbal commitment last summer.

Former Ozark linebacker Gage Depee, who played at Branson as a senior, announced last week he will sign with Washburn.

NAIA signings will also take place Wednesday, but are not official.