LOST CREEK, W. Va.  College football’s second national signing period officially gets underway Wednesday, with a multitude of in-state prospects expected sign letters of intent.

A handful of in-state D-I prospects utilized the early signing period back in December, taking away some of the dramatics from the usual signing day in February.

One of the state’s top players expected to sign at the Division II level is South Harrison all-state running back Freddy Canary who committed to West Virginia State last month.

Canary, who is also a state champion sprinter, chose the Yellow Jackets over multiple track-and-field scholarships.

“I had a good bit of D-1 offers for track,” said Canary. “Akron was one of the last two I was going with. I just felt like West Virginia State was for me.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound speedster, joins a West Virginia State roster that will return 24 players from in-state high schools.

Canary began his senior campaign on a tear, racking up touchdowns and leading the Hawks to an undefeated 8-0 record.

After a broken hand forced an early exit for Canary in a loss to East Hardy, the senior still made his return a week later, wearing a cast that that made his extremity look more like a club than a hand.

“When all the wrapping went on to the cast, it was a good four pounds,” said Canary. “It definitely slowed me down a little bit. I couldn’t really juke as fast, so it definitely played a role.”

Tyson Murray, WVMetroNews.com

South Harrison running back Freddy Canary finished sixth in the MetroNews HS Football Player of the Year voting, receiving the most votes among Class A players.

A broken hand, however, was not going to keep the star tailback off the field as he racked up 180 rushing yards and four touchdowns that following week in a win over Liberty Harrison.

“It took my left hand away. I couldn’t throw stiff arms out or carry the ball in my left hand,” said Canary. “It was just something I had to deal with. I felt like I needed to be there for my team.”

Canary continued to leave his mark with the Hawks, posting a single-game Class A playoff rushing record with 368 yards and five scores in a first-round victory over Richwood.

“I give all the glory to God,” said Canary. “Without God, playing with a broken hand would not have been easy. He definitely had the protection around me throughout those games and was watching over me.”

After losing to eventual champion Wheeling Central in the quarterfinals, Canary ended the year with 2,215 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns.

He also finished sixth in the MetroNews HS Football Player of the Year voting, receiving the most votes among Class A players.

But his overall football story isn’t finished yet. With an offer from former WVU running back and current West Virginia State coach Quincy Wilson on the table, the South Harrison star jumped at the opportunity.

“I don’t think my business is done with football,” said Canary. “I think I have more to prove to the state of West Virginia than what happened to me at the end of the year. I just would like another shot at playing. That’s where my heart is.”

As for this spring, Canary, the 2017 McCoy Award winner and Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year, will finish out his senior year sprinting for the Hawks, looking to defend his state titles in track — and then some.

“Committing for football it isn’t going to change a thing,” said Canary. “I’m still going to try to protect the throne, and give it everything I got.

“I have basically one goal this year,” he continued. “That is to break James Jett’s records and that’s what I’m really aiming for this year.”

— By Joey White

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