Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009 | 5:23 p.m.
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Steve Silver and Ray Brewer analyze the 2009 National Signing Day with a view from the valley.
It has been nearly a year since Justin Chaisson decided he wanted to be an Oklahoma Sooner.
Bishop Gorman's hulking defensive end made it official Wednesday, signing a letter of intent to continue playing football in Norman, Okla. He committed last January. Chaisson was one of 15 recruits from the Las Vegas — including eight from Summerlin schools — to sign.
"It's a great feeling to finally sign that letter of intent," Chaisson said. "It's no pressure anymore. I feel great and especially relieved that I'm able to move on. I can't wait to get down to Norman."
Though he signed at Gorman, Chaisson's family made one sideline of Gorman's gymnasium look like an Oklahoma home game. More than 30 of Chaisson's relatives showed up to the signing wearing Sooner red.
The family sported about a dozen Oklahoma jerseys customized with Chaisson's name and No. 97, which Oklahoma coaches assured him he would retain in college.
"I have a great family, great support system," Chaisson said. "They're always there for me. The jerseys show how much they care about me and I appreciate that a lot."
Jim Chaisson, Justin Chaisson's father, said he was happy signing day finally arrived.
"It's been a long recruiting process," Jim Chaisson said. "He started getting offers when he was a sophomore. Oklahoma is where he fit best. He loved the school and loved the atmosphere."
Chaisson is currently ranked as the No. 73 college prospect in the nation and the sixth best strong-side defensive end by recruiting Web site Rivals.com.
Chaisson drew attention of major colleges when he set an unofficial state record with 23 sacks as a junior to help the Gaels captured the 2007 large-school state championship.
He cemented his status as a top prospect by tallying two sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked extra point in the Under Armour All-America game in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 4.
Chaisson chose Oklahoma over Florida, LSU and USC. He will join former Bishop Gorman graduates Demarco Murray, a tailback, and Ryan Reynolds, a linebacker, who are currently with the Sooners.
Chaisson said he expected to compete for playing time as a true freshman.
"They're not promising me anything but they said if I have a good summer then I have a good shot of playing," Chaisson said. "There are five defensive ends down there now and they travel five. I'll be the sixth coming down, so I have to beat one guy out. With that, I'll just have to prove myself."
When Chaisson signed, Gorman defensive line coach Gino DiMaria addressed the crowd, saying he loved Chaisson "like a brother."
"He's one of the more fierce players on the field I've ever seen," DiMaria said. "He will be another guy, like Demarco Murray, that you will see play on Sundays."
Chaisson is one of eight Gorman athletes, including four Division I football players, to sign letters of intent on Wednesday. Offensive tackle Sam Womack signed with Navy, while cornerback Charles Childers and safety John Therrell will stay in Southern Nevada to play for UNLV.
"UNLV is a very nice place," Therrell said. "The people there are very supportive, and I know I'll never get homesick."
Gorman was not the only Summerlin school to have a signing day ceremony.
Palo Verde had three — defensive back Torin Harris (Southern California), tailback Sidney Hodge (UNLV) and linebacker Liloa Nobriga (Colorado) — ink letters. Palo Verde won the Sunset Regional title in 2008, but lost in the state title game 13-12 to Reno's McQueen High.
"These three kids are besides great athletes are great kids," Palo Verde coach Darwin Rost said. "Whatever they choose to do they will be great at. They were a pleasure to coach. I think the reason we've been successful is because it was so much fun to go out and coach them everyday. "
Harris was offered a scholarship at Southern California's camp last summer when he was clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
"All of (USC) the coaches were great," Harris said. "They all have great intensity. Not just in practice, but everywhere."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.