Tears of joy rolled down the faces of parents and staff who attended Rockdale County High School’s signing day on Feb. 5.
The day was bittersweet. School officials thought they had a record number of signees–12. But learned after signing in the morning that four of their players had their offers from West Georgia Technical College rescinded. The college announced it will not offer a football program.
“After careful consideration, West Georgia Technical College has chosen to withdraw a request that was made to the Technical College System of Georgia to approve football as an additional athletic program for the Golden Knights,” interim President Pat Hannon said in a release.
Kimberly Alexander gives her son, Ken Hike, Jr., a big kiss after the Columbia High student signed to attend Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Rockdale High’s Coach Venson Elder is working with Why Not Sports to find other offers for the students. Rockdale’s Salem High and other schools also must find replacements. Why Not Sports is a non-profit that educates student athletes on academic requirements needed for college.
Rockdale High Principal Georgi Nour said she is still proud of the hard work by her students, coaches and teachers.
“This is the largest group we’ve ever had on National Signing Day, at least during the five years I have been here,” said Nour, who had three students to sign letters of intent in 2013. “It is because we have strong leadership from our coaches that the students have performed on and off the field. They are not only good athletes, but they have excelled academically. I am proud of each and every one of them.”
Coach Elder said it was critical for his players to excel off the field in the classroom, as it was to perform well on it on Friday nights.
Students piled in from all over DeKalb and Rockdale County to sign in at the "National Signing Day Frenzy" on Feb. 5 at Taco Mac in Decatur.
“We spent countless hours working with the kids. Wewanted to make sure that they did what they were supposed to do in theclassroom and on the field. They all met the new NCAA academic requirementsfor core classes. None of them made below a ‘B’ in their core subjects,” said Elder. “Today is a special day—a very special day. We are all proud of them.”
In October 2013, On Common Ground News reported on an interactive seminar, which focused on the NCAA’s new academic eligibility requirements including increasing the GPA from 2.0 to 2.3 in core courses and raising the number of required courses from 14 to 16 for Division II schools.
The Rockdale team members joined dozens of athletes at the Decatur Taco Mac restaurant, which also hosted the DeKalb County signees as part of the “National Signing Day Frenzy.” Sponsored by SCORE Atlanta, 92.9 FM The Game, and the National Guard, the event was a celebration for families and their athletes to fellowship and reflect.
“It was pretty hard, but through prayer, hard work and the grace of God we are here today, standing proud,” said Kimberly Alexander, mother of Ken Hike, Jr., who played Cornerback at Columbia High School. “This is my baby. I’m overjoyed for him. I haven’t even slept in two days. I have been so excited about this day.”
Hike says he’s just happy to make his mom proud.
“She raised three of us on her own. She’s what I call my A1 since Day One,” said Hike, who has received a full ride to Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama, to study healthcare for athletes. “She means the world to me. To sign this scholarship and know she doesn’t have to worry about anything coming out of her pocket means absolutely everything to me.”
The 12 Rockdale County High School football players who signed on Feb. 5, 2014, National Signing Day are:
Linebackers Robert McCray (Indiana University)
Kentavius Preston (Southern University)
Brandon Harris (Alabama State)
Corner Backs Shakym Peters (Alabama State)
Anthony Davis (Saint Augustine University)
Defensive Lineman Julian McKnight (NC A&T)
Offensive Linemen Tyler Seabolt (Centre College)
Heritage High: 2: Offensive LinemanChandler Peeples and Defensive End Jalen Jackson signed their National Letters of Intent with Cumberland University.
Arabia Mountain High: 9: Cornerbacks Nasiir Edwards (Air Force) and Christopher Daniel (West Carolina); Running Back Destinn Middleton (Limestone College), Linebackers Jonathan Shepard-Smith (Davidson), Demetro Stephens Jr. (Army); Safety Junior Sigalo (Appalachian State); Wide Receivers Gregory Phillips (Purdue); Jonathan Slaton (Charleston Southern) and Defensive Tackle Kayton Samuels (Syracuse).
Columbia High: 6: Linebacker Deshon Cooper (Mississippi State); Offensive Guard Terronne Prescod (N.C. State); ATH Antonio Holloway (Garden City Community); Cornerback Ken Hike, Jr. (Tuskegee); Defensive End Christopher Jones (Delta State) and Offensive Tackle Christopher Jones
Lithonia High: 5: Defensive Backs Khaylan Williams (Navy) and Devon Wallace (Albany State);Offensive Guards Montez Kilgore (Point) and Deonte’ Davis (Presbyterian College) and Tight End Avery Williams (Point).
Martin Luther King, Jr High: Defensive Linebackers Chaka Diarrassouba (Hampton); Larenz Griggs (Georgetown); Marquis Cain (Campbellsville); Wesley Green (South Carolina); and Alanmichael Harkness (Appalachian State); Wide Receivers DeAngelo Holt (Valdosta State) Romello Shumake (Valdosta State); Randy Blue (Missouri Baptist); Quarterback Roland Rivers Jr. (Valdosta State); Place Kicker Avery Parrish (Middle Georgia); Offensive Lineman Tryonn Walker (Middle Georgia) and Keshawn Parrish (Texas Southern) and Slot Back J. Credel (Highland Community College) and Deffensive Linemen Andrew Garrett (Western Carolina) and Linebacker Dwayne Taylor (Tusculum).
Redan High 3: Running BackKevin Parker (College of Faith); Wide Receiver Brandon Brinson and Defensive Back Miciah Owens will be attending Arkansas Baptist.
Stephenson High: 23: Tight EndsMontez Sweat (Michigan State); Ari Werts (Gerogia State); and Khalil Vincent (Point); Offensive Guards Jordan Harris (Mississippi State); Tyler Jones (N.C. State); and Gavin Brown (Antelope Valley); Defensive Linemen Jamal Hawkins; Theron Chatman; and Treikell Jones will be attending Mississippi Valley; Defensive Linemen Abdul Mahmoud (Paine); Cahnce Harper (Point); Braxton Butler (Johnson C. Smith); Daniel Durdren (Valdosta State); Tommy Smith (Antelope Valley); Tavonn Salters (Georgia Prep Sports Academy); Linebackers Malik Ricks (Georgia State) and Delinine Warren (UT-Chattanooga) ; Safety’s Cameron Glenn (Wakeforest); Ronald Peterkin (Georgia State) and Jared Tucker (Kentucky); Wide Receivers Saddiq Green (Georgia Prep Sports); ATH Dallas Rivers (Vanderbilt); and Kicker Wisdom Nzidee (Paine).
Tucker High: 15: Running BacksStephen Reynolds (Savannah State); Joseph Farrar (Furman) and Devin Towns (Wingate); Defensive Tackles Elisha Shaw (Alabama); Deandre Bailey (Arizona Western); Ramel Crawford (Charleston Southern); Defensive Back Jalen Pearson (Miles); Safety’s Davanta Reynolds (North Carolina Central) and Joseph Proby (Garden City Community); Linebackers Justin Hughes (Kansas State); Detric Dukes (Georgia); Malik Campbell (Campbellsville); Kirk Tucker (Oklahoma State); Cornerback Dominick Sanders and ATH Demetrius Smith (Campbellsville).
Pictured at top: Rockdale County High School Principal Georgi Nour (center) beams with pride as she stands with the school’s signees.