MAGAZINE, Ark. - No matter if you're heading east or west on Highway 10, visitors to Magazine are greeted with the same sign: "Magazine Rattlers State Football Champions 2010"
There's no question the residents of this small town (pop. 912) are proud of their football team.
Now, they can be a little prouder.
On Feb. 2-National Signing Day-Rattler senior Skyler McElroy signed a letter of intent to play football at Arkansas Tech University, thereby becoming the first player in Magazine High School history to sign a college football scholarship.
"There have been great athletes that have come through here," McElroy said. "It made me feel special."
For a time though, there was a question as to what sport McElroy would play. The sight of a 6'5", 290 pound behemoth shooting hoops is a bit jarring, but basketball was McElroy's first love.
"I always played basketball," he said. "I've just always loved basketball, I just realized football was my sport and I liked it a lot, so why not give it a shot?"
Through that realization, and some gentle suggestion from Magazine head football coach Josh Jones ("You can't develop 6'5, 290."), McElroy took to the gridiron, and it was one Friday night his sophomore year that made him realize he had a chance to make it in this game.
"I pancaked Byran Jones three times when we played him when he was a senior," he said, laughing at the memory. "He went and started the next year for the Razorbacks."
"He's got the film to prove it!" Jones added from across the room.
So with confidence soaring, the question became, could McElroy gain the exposure he needed while playing at 2A Magazine?
"There were always people telling me, 'Aw, you're from a smaller school and you can't make it, you won't get noticed by colleges, nobody will look at you. Nobody will notice the little 2A people,'" McElroy said. "I just worked harder and tried to make myself more visible to them."
It worked. Offers poured in, something Jones expected as he watched McElroy develop.
"Honestly, I wasn't surprised," he said. "I was a little surprised that some others didn't. I think some major D1's might have missed out."
And about Magazine's small town status?
"If you have the talent to play ball, they're going to find you," he said. "It doesn't matter where you are."
McElroy is forging new ground for Magazine. No matter where his football career takes him, he'll always carry Magazine, Ark. (pop. 912) with him wherever he goes.
"It's going to make me strive to be better and to prove to everybody that maybe, you can keep going, and give people hopes and dreams that, even if you go to a small school, you still can make it at the next level."