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Eighteen local players pick colleges on National Signing Day

Eastside head football coach Rick Hurst, left, and athletic director Bruce McColumn stand behind Eagle signees Antonius Sims, left, and Zach Kimmel on Wednesday. Sims will play for Georgia Military College, and Kimmel will play for Faulkner University in Alabama.

Eastside head football coach Rick Hurst, left, and athletic director Bruce McColumn stand behind Eagle signees Antonius Sims, left, and Zach Kimmel on Wednesday. Sims will play for Georgia Military College, and Kimmel will play for Faulkner University in Alabama.

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Presbyterian College-bound Joaquin Ross was the lone signee from Alcovy on Wednesday. Sitting with Ross are his parents Sabrina Ross and Antonio Ross. Also supporting Ross’ decision are, standing from left, Zion Ross (brother), Kirk Hoffman (head coach), Raymond Ross (grandfather) and Nanpon Ross (brother).

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Newton had four players sign letters of intent Wednesday. Heading on to play on Saturday are, from left, Kingsley Eijike (University of Alabama-Birmingham), James Hardeman (University of Pikeville), Duronte Carter (Mercer University) and Treyvon Richardson (Jackson State).

Local Signees

The following players from Rockdale and Newton counties signed a letter of intent to play in college next season:

Alcovy

• Joaquin Ross, Presbyterian

Eastside

• Antonius Sims, Georgia Military College

• Zach Kimmel, Faulkner

Heritage

• Chase Alford, Georgia Tech (designated walk-on)

• Dominique Packer, Harvard

• Dustyn Moore, Kent State

• Tyler Weaver, Air Force

• Michael Raiford, Navy

• Terrell Flowers, Albany State

Newton

• Kingsley Eijike, Alabama-Birmingham

• James Hardeman, Pikeville

• Duronte Carter, Mercer

• Treyvon Richardson, Jackson State

Rockdale

• Neville Hewitt, Marshall (from Georgia Military College)

Salem

• Damion Gordon, Savannah State

• Kevin Holmes, Savannah State

• Rafeeq Badee, Savannah State

• Bilal Hewitt, Benedict College

• Antoine Leonard, Benedict College

COVINGTON -- It was a good day for several local football players Wednesday as 17 signed their letters on intent and another chose a walk-on destination on National Signing Day.

Heritage led the field with five players, including Region 8-AAAAA and Citizen Defensive Player of the Year Chase Alford who is designated as a preferred walk-on at Georgia Tech.

Heritage's linebackers are all moving up. Dominique Packer signed with Harvard University and Dustyn Moore inked with Kent State University.

Other Patriots players heading on include defensive back Tyler Weaver (Air Force), offensive tackle Michael Raiford (Navy) and defensive end Terrell Flowers (Albany State University).

"Really proud of these young men," said Chad Frazier, who coached at Heritage for five years before accepting the athletic director/head football coach job at Villa Rica High School last month. "Not only what they have accomplished on the field but looking at the schools these kids are signing with is a testament to the character and commitment they have to being great at life. These guys do everything well and we as a Heritage family are very proud of them."

Salem had five players sign, including a trio headed to Savannah State -- quarterback/wide receiver Damion Gordon, defensive end/linebacker Kevin Holmes and offensive lineman Rafeeq Badee. Nose tackle Bilal Hewitt and linebacker Antoine Leonard signed with Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.

After giving his verbal commitment with Georgia State in December, Newton defensive end Kingsley Eijike decided that the University of Alabama-Birmingham was a better fit for him. Eijike was also being courted by Appalachian State and Furman, which would have put him head-to-head with older brother Justice Eijike at Georgia Southern.

Other Rams heading elsewhere are Treyvon Richardson (Jackson State University), Duronte Carter (Mercer University) and Region 2-AAAAAA first-team running back and Citizen Offensive Player of the Year James Hardeman (University of Pikeville).

With more players waiting in the wings, the first two players coming out of Eastside are Zach Kimmel (Faulkner University) and Antonious Sims (Georgia Military College).

"Both are well-deserved," Eastside head coach Rick Hurst said. "Antonious is going to a junior college and he'll go back in that recruiting pool in two more years. I think he'll be playing (Division I) within 18 months. I think he's going to have a great career there and end up somewhere else big.

"They're really excited about (Kimmel). It's like I told the coach, he does a good job on the D-line eating up blocks. That's what he did for us, He ate up blocks and allowed our linebackers and secondary guys to make the tackles."

Joaquin Ross, who is heading to Presbyterian College, was the lone player from Alcovy to sign Wednesday.

Rockdale didn't have any seniors sign Wednesday, but former player Neville Hewitt, who spent the last two seasons at Georgia Military, signed with Marshall University in Huntington, W.V.

Rockdale sports writer Kurt Aschermann Jr. contributed to this story.