Last Wednesday, Lovejoy had a list of athletes sign letters of intent to Division I (FBS) programs such as Mississippi, Georgia Tech and N.C. State and Division I-AA (FCS) schools such as Chattanooga, Appalachian State and South Carolina State.
Of all the Wildcats’ signings, tight end Arshad Jackson’s commitment to Ole Miss was the lone surprise.
“Ole Miss is coming up to be a winner, and I like that challenge,” said the 6-foot-6 star. “They had one of the best recruiting classes.”
(Mississippi finished No. 7 in the recruiting rankings.)
Unlike Jackson, Travis Custis decided to stay close to his Clayton County home and attend Georgia Tech next year.
“The best thing about playing college football will be the competition,” said Custis, who rushed for 2,118 yards and 35 touchdowns last season. “It will be twice the amount as in high school and much faster. I’m just ready for it.”
Wide receiver Ju’Michael Ramos is also ready for the challenges and thrills that lie ahead at NC State next year.
“The atmosphere will be the most exciting about being a member of the Wolfpack,” Ramos said. “When you come out of the tunnel and you see 60,000 fans looking at you, having your number on. I think that will be a good experience.”
Linebacker Veion Robinson will also play Division I football but at Middle Tennessee State.
“A couple of years ago guys didn’t know if they were going D-I but we worked hard our last couple of years,” Ramos said. “We worked hard during the summer, did what we were supposed to do on and off the field and academically. This is nothing that was given. We had to work for it. This is what you get when you work hard.”
Quarterback Alejandro Bennifield, linebacker Zane Fields, defensive lineman Nathaniel Norwood and others will all compete on a lower level. Bennifield signed with Chattanooga, Fields officially committed to SC State and Norwood will attend Appalachian State.
"This has got to be the best team I've ever played on," Fields said. "Great guys who compete every day--we're brothers. We will all stay in touch and keep pushing each other even though we might be miles and miles away from each other."
“When you get to the college level its big-time football no matter where you are,” Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said. “I’m excited for them and I believe they are all going to be able to make a positive contribution.”
Three athletes from Woodward Academy and two from Landmark Christian were just a few of the athletes from Fulton County who will continue to put on a helmet and a set of pads.
Former Woodward linebackers Austin Roark and Jameel Spencer signed Letters of Intent with Stetson and Georgia State, respectively.
Both defensive players also spoke about what will make playing on the next level special.
“The competition factor,” Spencer said. “Anything I can do to raise my level of play is a good opportunity.”
“Being able to travel and say you play collegiate football,” Roark said. “Not too many people get to say that. The overall experience will be very exciting.”
Teammate Alex Robinson, the War Eagles’ former kicker and punter, signed his scholarship with Pennsylvania.
“I felt the best games that I played this year were when we played the best teams,” Robinson said. “You can’t beat the feeling that you have when you play in a competitive environment especially at the college level—it’s amazing. I can’t wait to get up there and play.”
“A lot of people don’t realize there are a lot of high school players and very few get to the opportunity to play at the next level,” Woodward football coach John Hunt said. “These young men have that opportunity and it was well deserved and well earned.”
Robinson, Roark and Spencer also talked about what they will miss the most.
“I’ll miss the Friday night lights,” Robinson said. “I formed a bond here with other players the past couple of years. It’s not to say I won’t have that same bond up there but I’m going to miss all of my friends I’ve made here.”
In Fairburn, Landmark’s Reed McGuire (defensive lineman) and Cole Higbie (safety) officially agreed to attend Air Force and Wofford, respectively.
“Playing on TV will definitely be special,” McGuire said. “But the fact that I will get to play with a bunch of other guys who have worked as hard as I have and we get to come together as a team is the most exciting thing.”
"Both of them are great competitors and hard workers so I think they are going to appreciate the amount of work and time that you put in at that level," Landmark football coach Wayne Brantley said. "They're going to enjoy the competition of being on the field with guys where there are not too many weak spots. Everybody is a really good player and you can never have a letdown."