Signing Day Sweeps Through Southwest Georgia

The football year officially ended on Sunday, but the new college football season is already here- officially beginning Wednesday.

National Signing Day- the time where dreams are realized for coaches and high school players alike. With pictures, cheering sections and plenty of ink abound, there was plenty of excitement for what the future may hold.

It's been a long time coming for Deerfield-Windsor's Patrick Forrestal. The offensive lineman is following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps to the Naval Academy. Switching to the defensive line for the Midshipmen, Forrestal is the epitome of leadership.

"I know I have to keep my work ethic up. I know it's not going to be easyâ|just have to keep working hard once I get there. I've gotten to the goal, but I have to keep on climbing," Forrestal said.

At Colquitt County, six Packers signed scholarships. John Gray and Garrett Pierce continue the Valdosta State pipeline becoming the 9th and 10th Packers to sign with Valdosta State under head coach Rush Propst.

Wide receiver Bobby Hill is joining an elite freshman class at Ole Miss. While Johnny Ward stuck to his commitment with South Florida and new head coach Willie Taggart.

"I'm just excited that I still have the chance to play football after high school. The legacy we have (at Colquitt County)â|every year we have at least five or six guys signingâ|going on to do bigger and better things," Ward said.

"It was just the coaches. They make bonds with everybodyâ|everybody looks out for everybody. Ole Miss is a great program with a great atmosphere also," Hill said.

Albany Indians quarterback Emanuel Byrd looks at his commitment with Georgia Military College as the beginning. Byrd views his signing as an opportunity and motivation to find a future division one school.

"Even with the schools that didn't pick me up, I use that not as a bad thing. I use it as motivation everyday to get better and to prove those same schools that I can play on their level," Byrd said.

Across town at Monroe High, Division-II is the route for wide receiver Kevin Williams and linebacker Anthony Smith.

Williams heads to North Carolina's St. Augustine with Smith signing his letter of intent with Fort Valley State. Just like in their senior seasons, the Tornado standouts are still planning to turn heads on the college campus.

"My dadâ|he put that in my head a lot. It doesn't matter what school you go toâ|the school doesn't make you, you make the school. What you get out of it is what you put into it," Williams said.

"Just because it's D-2, they still have a lot of players that enter the draft. If you come here and show your talents, you can have a shot at the league," Smith said.

Signing with Fort Valley, Smith will see some familiar faces in the SIAC. Westover's second team all-region defensive end Joshua Burton is heading to Morehouse College. Equipped with a 3.66 GPA, Burton is preparing for the future- even after his days with the Maroon Tigers.

"I try to maximize everything that comes my way, so I'm going to give my best to the program. I understand that going to Morehouse is going to set my life after football," Burton said.

At Lee County, Kenneth Hurley was all smiles about his Benedict College decision. The tailback with blazing speed saw Benedict as the only team capable of keeping up.

"I had a visit the last couple of weeks and it was amazing. I had a lot of fun and the coaching staff was amazing. It was awesome," Hurley said.

Terrell County quarterback Jerkerious Scott is moving to the secondary for Tennessee-Chattanooga, but Scott's not the only player changing positions at the next level.

Sherwood Christian's Quan Cameron is moving from defensive tackle to offensive guard for West Georgia Tech. Cameron went to three high schools in four years, but found a home at Sherwood.

"I woke up this morning and said I made it. It's been a ride and been toughâ|a lot of long days and nights, but I made it and I thank god for it," Cameron said.

Another signing day has come and gone, but for these local stars the path has only begun.