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FOOTBALL: Andrean Trio Sign Collegiate Letters of Intent

MERRILLVILLE – There have been a lot of banner days for Andrean football recently, but Wednesday’s National Signing Day ranks near the top of that list. Three 59ers signed their letters of intent to play college football as Josh Barajas officially committed to Notre Dame, Jake Paliga to Valparaiso and John Daugherty to St. Francis.

For Barajas, signing day was the culmination of a long process that saw many major collegiate football programs after him for his services at linebacker.

“Part of me is glad that it’s over,” Barajas said. “Some of the stuff is time consuming and it weighs on you. It was tough and I’m relieved it’s over, but it was a good problem to have.”

With a lack of depth at linebacker, the Fighting Irish have big plans for Barajas early in his career. While he doesn’t officially report until June 14, he’ll be attending meetings and other practices since he’s not far from South Bend.

“I’m looking to make an impact early,” he said.

Proximity to home will not only give Barajas a leg up in getting on the field, it’ll mean that he’ll have a cheering section on Saturdays.

“My whole family will be able to come and watch me play,” Barajas said. “That’s a huge part of why I committed to Notre Dame.”

Staying even closer to home is quarterback Jake Paliga who will don the colors of the Valparaiso Crusaders.

Despite getting plenty of playing time during the 2013 championship season, Paliga was only a one year starter under center for the Niners. Still, that didn’t deter the Crusaders from calling.

“They contacted me during the first week of the tournament and said they were going to offer,” Paliga said. “They even came and did and in home visit.”

One of the things that attracted Paliga to Valparaiso was not only being close to home, but it was working with a coaching staff that had great success in their first year with the program.

“They won more games in their first year than the program had in the previous four years combined,” Paliga said. “They’re a bunch of friendly guys that love the game. That was definitely one of the selling points for me.”

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John Daugherty was one of the standout linemen protecting Paliga and he’ll be continuing his career at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne.

Daugherty, who also considered an offer from Butler before committing to St. Francis is excited for the opportunity to play at the next level, especially at St. Francis.

“It’s a great family fit and a great school,” he said. “I love the coaching staff, love the program and I think their best ball is still to come.”

Not only was Daugherty excited for the opportunity to play college ball, he was happy that he got to share the moment of signing with his teammates.

“These guys are my best friends and have been through it all,” he said. “It’s a dream come true, especially to sign with them on the same day.”

Andrean is going to send at least two more players to the collegiate football ranks, although their commitments aren’t official yet. Lineman Lukus Berber is expected to play at the University of Chicago while receiver and defensive back Jamie Johnson will be headed to play at Iowa Central Community College. 

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