By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Over the last four years, Garrett McBroom, Jonah Motley and Dustin Brothers stood side-by-side — brothers locked in arms — as the Stillwater High School football team battled on Friday nights.
And while Claremore transfer Aaron Patterson was the new kid on the block, he became just as much a part of that brotherhood — often relaxing outside the locker room after practice with the other three.
It seemed only fitting that all four signed their national letters of intent together Wednesday in the Stillwater High School Student Center.
“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” the aptly named Brothers said. “It’s a good way to represent the brotherhood of our football team. It’s like taking my brothers with me to college.”
“I’m super proud of all these guys,” Stillwater coach Tucker Barnard said. “It doesn’t happen very often that you have four linemen sign scholarships. I’ve never had this many in one group. It’s just a tribute to their hard work and all the effort they put in over the last four years.”
That tradition of brotherhood will continue for three members of the group. McBroom, Motley and Brothers all signed to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, joining another of their Stillwater senior brethren — Darian Williams, who is already enrolled at NEO.
“I really like it,” McBroom said. “I’m excited about possibly playing next to the people I played next to last year. It will be more comfortable for me to be surrounded by those guys. ... We definitely have a brotherhood and I’m excited to keep our brotherhood going.”
Patterson won’t be joining the brotherhood in Miami.
Instead, he’s hoping to make a name for himself in front of his real family at Northeastern State in Tahlequah. Patterson’s uncle, Tim Stewart, was a four-year starter for the RiverHawk basketball team and Patterson’s mother is an NSU alumna.
“All of my family are alumni from Northeastern State,” Patterson said. “I know my family is really proud of me and I love how happy they are with it, but I love it down there too. I chose them for the family tradition plus everything else.”
But that doesn’t mean the bond he formed over the last year will be forgotten.
“We practiced together every single day,” Patterson said. “The lineman group, we’re always extremely close. So being here with my best buds makes it a little more sweeter. I wish they could join me at NSU but we’ll all keep in contact for sure.”
McBroom had the chance to join Patterson in Tahlequah, but said he was sold on NEO after a trip to Miami.
“I’m ready to be a Norseman,” McBroom said. “I went on a visit and I really liked the campus and the coaches a lot. I have a lot of players from last year going with me, so that just adds to the comfort level.”
Motley and Brothers may not have had the same opportunities as Patterson and Brothers, but there is little doubt that both could have a big impact at the junior college level.
“I think they all definitely have a chance to make an impact,” Stillwater defensive line coach Jeremy Hughes said. “A guy with Jonah’s size has a chance to go to NEO and see playing time immediately if he works hard enough. NEO does bring in a bunch of recruits and a lot of those guys are looking at NEO as a springboard to the next level. It will definitely be competitive for them to get on the field, but I think that with some work they have a chance to crack the lineup and be good players for NEO.”
Whether or not any of the four crack the lineup remains to be seen. But Stillwater offensive line coach Chad Cawood said just watching them sign those national letters of intent made him emotional.
“It’s rewarding to see four young men fulfill their dreams of playing college football,” Cawood said. “It’s exciting and I’m just as happy as I could be for them. Now they’re on to a new journey and I’m sure if they work as hard as they did for me, they’ll do fine.”
Through all the hardships — the blood, the sweat and the tears lost in practice — this band of Pioneer brothers has remained steadfast and true to each other.
And when the time came for all four to put the final stamp on their future, McBroom turned to Barnard and asked, “Should we do it all together?”
As if there were any other way.