COVINGTON -- The excitement of National Signing Day was felt at all three Newton County high schools as 14 players signed their letter's of intent on Wednesday.
Getting the prize for signing with top programs were Alcovy's Devon Edwards and Eastside's Sheldon rankins.
Edwards is heading to ACC school Duke where he will play cornerback while Rankins, who signed with Big East Louisville, was selected for his ability at defensive end position.
Before selecting Duke, Edwards had one other offer from Furman but had a lot of other major Division 1 schools looking at him, including Maryland, N.C. State and Georgia Tech. But Duke was where he felt like he belonged.
"I knew it was a good place for me when they didn't care about size and all that. Then their graduation rate is like 99 percent, you couldn't beat that no matter where you go," said Edwards.
In his final year at Alcovy, Edwards rushed for over 1,000 yards while gaining a total of 1,917 all-purpose yards setting a new record for the Tigers. While there is no doubt that Edwards can run, he is excited about being strictly a cornerback.
"I like it, people don't get to hit me and I get to hit people," he said. "I should play as a true freshman but nothing is sure so I have to go in and get earn spot."
For the past three years, Rankins has been a terror to the opposing offenses. Now he has to rebuilt his reputation but he feels that he is ready for the challenge and will do whatever it takes to become a top defensive lineman again.
"I'll be a young pup again but you just have to go in there work hard and take care of what you're suppose to. If you take care of business everything will fall into place," said Rankins.
"It was bound to happen at some point, either the college level or if I make it to the NFL. All you can do is prepare and prepare each day. Just go hard and never let up."
Rankins was being recruited by other major schools such N.C. State and Wake Forest, but once he went to Louisville for his visit he knew being a Cardinal is where he is suppose to be.
"I had a great time with the coaching staff and the players. I saw the city; saw the facilities, saw everything they had to offer. It was a winning situation however you swing it," said Rankins. "It'll be a great experience."
Even though Eastside had four signees on the first day of eligibility, all four were to quality and established programs. Joining Rankins on the gridiron from Eastside are Shaquille Huff, Dante Blackmon and Blake Rouse who are heading to FCS schools.
Huff had eight different offers including Louisville, Cincinnati and Colorado State. But he decided that playing defensive tackle at Middle Tennessee fit him best because it gave his parents and friend a greater opportunity to see him play.
Blackmon, who will he heading to Appalachian State where he will be a defensive back, had a hard decision before picking the Mountaineers. Having had interest from Indiana, Wake Forest, Georgia Southern and Buffalo, he felt that Appalachian State felt more like home. Plus he will not be alone as former Eastside quarterback and all round athlete Justin Wray is there as former Newton quarterback Demetrius McCray.
When Rouse takes field at Georgia Southern, he will be in a new position as they are considering moving him from linebacker to defensive end.
"The coaches were talking about redshirting me my first year. They talked about changing my position from linebacker to defensive end. I don't care I just want to play," said Rouse. "I have to work out and work on my flexibility more than anything."
Six players, Newton's Antonio Williams, Chase Dial, Sean McKenzie, Torey Parks, Teyshawn Curry and Alcovy's Tre Sorrells, will all join former Newton head coach Nick Collins, who is an assistant coach, at Point University.
Other Newton signees include Damon Gresham (Howard University), Javonte Williams (Morehouse College) and Nick Hardeman (Mercer University).
"We had eight outstanding young men sign national letters of intent (scholarships) to attend various colleges and universities across the country. We are proud of these young men and the dedication that they have shown over the last four years. Congratulations to their parents for a job well done," Newton head coach Cortez Allen wrote in a statement. "They have prepared these young men to take on the next stage of their lives."