ANNA — Surrounded by friends, teammates, coaches and family, Anna senior Keelan Crosby signed his national letter of intent to play football for the University of North Texas on Wednesday morning.

Crosby was a three-year starter for Anna and a catalyst whenever he was on the field, whether on defense or offense. A three-time all-district selection, Crosby made first-team all-district as a safety in 2016 and first-team at quarterback in 2017. In his senior season he rushed for 1,068 yards and 14 touchdowns and threw for 427 yards and five TDs.

“First of all, I'm proud of myself for being able to get here,” Crosby said. “I've got say it's an amazing feeling to be able to sign to a D-I school and play the sport I love to play.”

While he's signed to play safety for the Eagles, Crosby said he's also been told he could play cornerback too.

“Either one is fine with me,” he said.

This is the first year the NCAA has allowed an early signing period for football, a three-day period from Dec. 20-22. Feb. 7, 2018 is still the final signing day for this cycle.

As for his time as a Coyote, Crosby said he has both good and bad memories.

“One bad memory is our last football game last year against Princeton. We lost that game by one point and that kept us out of the playoffs. A good memory though was this year. I actually went a season without getting hurt. Overall, I loved playing for Anna. It was a great experience. The coaches were there for me. My teammates were there for me. It's just a great football program overall.”

Crosby said he plans to study criminal justice at UNT.

“We're excited for him and this new chapter in his life and for him to be able to go out from here and represent our program and our school and our community,” Anna head football coach Jason Heath said. “And we're excited that he's going to be relatively close by where we can still go watch him and support him.”

The Eagles compete in Conference USA, where they won the league's Western Division with a 7-1 conference record this season, played for the conference championship then faced Troy in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 16.

Coyotes offensive coordinator Joey Hector said there was “a difference in the entire team” when Crosby was on the field.

“These kids around here have a belief in Keelan Crosby — that when he's on the field they're going to win the game,” he said. “As far as a young man, I've seen him grow from the time we pulled him up as a young freshman in a playoff game and blowing his knee out on the first or second play of the game. To see him battle through some of the injuries he's battled through and to reach the Division I level speaks volumes about his character.”

Anna defensive coordinator Noble Polk echoed Hector's praise.

“Having him on the defensive side of the ball was a big help. His being back there in that secondary, being able to be a three-year starter for us, being able to anchor and be a captain back there, helped those young guys come along,” Polk said. “Everything that he's worked through, everything that he's put his body through to be able to reach this point, it's finally paying off for him. We're all just happy to see him succeed and we're hoping for nothing but the best.”