Valley’s Ian Crim-Davis and Brandon Thomas sign to play college football

Published 1:09 pm Friday, March 15, 2024

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Two more Valley stars realized their dreams on Friday as the Rams held their third signing day during the current school year. 

Ian Crim-Davis and Brandon Thomas both signed the dotted line to continue playing football at the next level, with Crim-Davis signing to play for Morehouse College and Thomas signing to play at the University of Lousiana Monroe. 

Crim-Davis had a lengthy recruiting process, but he committed to play for Morehouse in early February. Friday made Crim-Davis’ decision final and was a culmination of all the long hours he had put in over the past several years at Valley. 

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“It’s amazing,” Crim-Davis said. “I’ve been waiting for it. Long football season, a long basketball season, but it finally came. No time is better than God’s time. I’m just so thankful for this opportunity.” 

Thomas and Crim-Davis were integral parts of Valley’s basketball team as well, and they had to wait longer to sign as they went to the semifinals in 5A after winning a state championship last season. 

Thomas burst onto the gridiron last season after not playing football the season prior. Thomas finished with 700 yards and nine touchdowns. 

Thomas was one of Valley’s most dynamic athletes on the football field and the hardwood, and he had offers to play either sport at the next level. After several months, Thomas made his decision to play football at ULM public on Friday. 

“It was very tough,” Thomas said. “I had to make a big decision. Me and my mom talked about it, so I just chose what was best for me [and] what was going to get me to the next level.” 

With Thomas not having as much experience on the gridiron as the rest of Valley’s recruits, his recruitment process started later than most. Thomas’ recruitment took off after football season concluded, and his decision to go to ULM came down to a visit earlier this year. 

“They just showed me love when I went for a visit in early February,” Thomas said. “It was a lot because I didn’t know if I wanted to play football or basketball. I was good at both of them.” 

Crim-Davis started at guard for the Rams on the Hardwood and started at wideout and defensive back on the gridiron. Crim-Davis finished with 427 yards and three touchdowns on offense last season while also adding 23 solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and an interception on defense. 

Crim-Davis and Thomas mark the fifth athletes to sign to play at the next level for Valley. Cam Dooley and Jay Harper signed to play football at Kentucky and Wisconsin respectively earlier this year while Jackson Sanders signed to play baseball at Auburn. 

The five athletes are not only some of the best to come through Valley High School, but the group of guys are also close friends off the field.
“That’s my brother,” Crim-Davis said about Thomas. “I’m the oldest, I’m just one of the shortest. I always wanted to sign with my bros and do everything with them. I just love them so much.

“My emotions are just all over the place. I’m just excited. We’ve been together since fourth grade. The whole team is going to be great.” 

“It’s very special,” Thomas said. “You have Cam going to Kentucky, you have Jameson going to Wisconsin. You have Ian going to Morehouse and me going where I’m going. For us to be successful growing up together, that’s just good.” 

The amount of athletes that Valley has seen sign this year to play at the next level is a testament to how far the program has come. 

Valley’s football coach and athletic director, Adam Hunter, gave a speech prior to the signing, and he got choked up just trying to explain what Thomas and Crim-Davis have meant to the community and to Valley’s athletic program. 

“The senior class … and those five guys that have all had big commitments this year, they all mean a lot to us,” Hunter said. “They’ve worked hard, not only for us as coaches but as ambassadors for our program and for our community. They are what you call the utmost respectful kids we’ve got. They’ve just meant a lot for us over the years.”

Valley basketball coach Marshon Harper has coached Thomas and Crim-Davis since elementary school. Harper has served as a coach and as another father figure for the two, and he could not be more proud of the athletes and the people that Thomas and Crim-Davis have become. 

“Unbelieve guys, good character guys,” Harper said. “We’ve been rocking since the fourth grade. Just like another son to me. In the school, everybody looks up to them, everybody wants to be like them.” 

Thomas and Crim-Davis have dreamed of playing at the next level for a long time, but they both know that leaving Valley High School is going to be a tough process. 

“I’m going to miss my friends, making memories,” Crim-Davis said. “Like Coach Hunter said, just stay being me and stay being true. I’m going to keep doing that.” 

“I’m going to miss my teammates and the love Valley showed me,” Thomas said. 

The two have served as examples for the younger generation at Valley, and Thomas and Crim-Davis hope to continue being good role models and inspire other young athletes in the community to take the next step. 

“Find you a group of people who do the same thing as you,” Crim-Davis said. “Some days you’re going to want to take off, but you just have to do it. It’s going to make the best out of you.” 

The Valley community has shown up in droves throughout all the signing days during the school year as the excitement for the athletic program has reached an all-time high. 

Crim-Davis and Thomas signed later on in the year than most, but fans of both schools should be excited about the type of athletes they are getting. 

“They’re getting a great athlete. Somebody that can go both ways and bring a lot of energy to the table,” Crim-Davis said. “They’re going to have somebody that is ready to compete at the freshman level and not scared of anybody.”

“They’re getting a hard-working player,” Thomas said. “I’m going to go up there and try to be the best person to come out of there.”