As in years prior, National Signing Day 2017 was a success in DeKalb County.
Eighty-three players from DeKalb public and private schools and Decatur High School signed letters of intent Feb. 1 during the “national holiday.” As usual, DeKalb has several four- and three-star recruits who signed with Division I schools, including Cedar Grove offensive linemen Netori Johnson and Justin Shaffer, both of whom signed with Georgia; Tucker’s Aaron Sterling (South Carolina) and Eugene Brown (West Virginia); Stephenson’s Carlito Gonzalez (Auburn) and Towers’ Devonte Wyatt (Georgia).
DeKalb’s signing day mostly featured players who signed with Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, Division II schools or Division III schools. Arabia Mountain had four players to sign with a school from one of these divisions, including linebacker Terray Bryant, who signed with FCS school Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio.
Bryant said he signed with Youngstown because of the family atmosphere surrounding the football program.
“They take care [of the athletes], [the football program] have a lot of support from the school and they have good academics,” Bryant said. “I plan on winning a national championship there.”
Bryant led the Arabia Mountain Rams in tackles last season with 193 total tackles and 140 solo tackles. He also led the team in forced fumbles (eight) and fumble recoveries (eight).
Bryant was a part of Coach Stanley Pritchett’s first freshman class. Pritchett said the 2017 signing class was the foundation of his program.
“This was my first ninth-grade class. I’m so proud of them,” Pritchett said. “We started off good; [then] we had a couple of rocky seasons in the middle and we ended with a region championship, going to the second round [of the playoffs], which was the first time in school history. We just want to celebrate them as they go on to the next level.”
Southwest DeKalb had three signees, including defensive back Mitchell Edwards, who signed with Alabama A&M. Edwards finished fourth on the Panthers’ defense in tackles with 64 (29 solo) and tied second in interceptions with three.
Edwards said he chose to sign with Alabama A&M because he wants to go to a school designated as an Historically Black College and University.
“I feel like Alabama A&M was a good fit for me,” he said. “The coaches were nice and I just think that’s the place for me.”
For Edwards and his teammates Jerry Marshall (Columbus State) and Demonte Lampkin (Edwards Waters College), signing their letters of intent capped off a season that started with the loss their head coach Michael Tanks. Edwards said dealing with the up and down of emotions this past season was overwhelming.
“I didn’t expect coach Tanks to pass away like that, but it definitely gave us motivation to go out there and win,” Edwards said. “We didn’t go all the way to state but we did well enough because in four years we never went to the playoffs. So we went to the playoffs just for him.”
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