This was the senior class that “rejuvenated” a normally bubbly coach like Doug Nichols.

And now, they create their own paths.

On National Signing Day — the one in February, the traditional one, to be more specific these days — the Osceola Kowboys sent eight players on to the collegiate ranks Wednesday in a ceremony at the OHS auditorium.

While proud to say he’s known and coached this group, Nichols lamented that they’re moving on.

“After we lost in the playoffs (to Tampa Steinbrenner in November), they remember after the game I told them how much I love them,” he said. “They’re funny, hard-working, accountable to a man, and wanted to be coached. They rejuvenated me and my coaches; some of us were thinking about coming to the end of everything we have to do in coaching.

“But these guys became like coaches, telling the younger guys about what it takes to get them through the Kowboy program, and whether they’re showing it or not.”

Here’s the list of Wednesday’s signees:

  • Quarterback Davon Wells — he got to play the fun “shell game” of hats between Army, Notre Dame College (Ohio), and the school he chose, The Citadel, an FCS program in Charleston, S.C. It is the state’s military college, and a program that presented the chance to play QB, where he threw for 650 yards and 13 TDs and ran for 949 and 10 more as a senior.
  • Running back DeWayne McGee — Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) gets the two-time 1,000-yard back’s  (993 as a senior, close enough) services. Also had Rhode Island in the mix.
  • Linebacker Oshea Shelton — Vermillion (Minn.) College, a two-year program in Ely, gets the Florida native, who had a cheering section of a couple dozen family and friends Wednesday.
  • Cornerback/safety Dan Cooper — Stays in Florida, signing with FCS program Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.  Picked off three passes in 2019, and had a vocal cheering section on Wednesday as well.
  • Defensive lineman Bryce Barrett — Taking his three sacks with him to Butler (Kan.) Community College, one of the country’s premier two-year football programs.
  • Defensive linemen Trey Varnado and Jacob McKinney — the two tackles are headed to the Division II program in Rindge, New Hampshire. McKinney had four sacks his senior year, Varnado two.
  • Defensive end Dylan Ruiz — Can probably take the same flight as his friends to the University of New Hampshire. He tallied 20 sacks in 2019, the school’s (maybe the county’s) highest single-season total in a decade.