Next stop: The college gridiron

By Anthony Rhoads and Jeffery Armstrong

Lovejoy's Shannon Mayfield definitely stood out on the football field for the Wildcats but he also was solid academically.

Now, his academic and athletic skills are paying off as he has signed with Cornell University, an Ivy League school in Ithaca, New York.

"It is a wonderful atmosphere so it will easy to fit in," Mayfield said. "The campus is beautiful."

Keith Boykins, a linebacker, was a four-year starter at Lovejoy and will now be playing at Furman.

Lovejoy's Aaron Williams signed with Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

Maurice Leggett, who was named the News-Daily's Football Athlete of the Year in 2003, has signed with Valdosta State, one of the top Division II programs in the country.

"He's one of the top five players I've ever had here in 15 years," Mt. Zion head coach Jackie Green said. "He'll be a good fit (at Valdosta)."

Leggett is looking forward to the chance to play for the Blazers.

"It's a chance to play for a national-championship team," he said. "It's focused on winning, just like at Mt. Zion."

Anthony Edwards of Riverdale knows about winning programs, having been a part of a playoff team for the past three years.

Edwards, the running back who's adept at blocking for others as he is at carrying the ball, will take his considerable talents to Florida A&M University. Edwards said when he was on the Tallahassee campus, he felt at home.

"I felt that Florida A&M was the perfect spot for me," said Edwards, who plans to major in Physical Therapy and Business. "The coaches and the players were real honest with me and I liked the fact that they really stressed all their academic accomplishments."

Florida A&M currently is a Division I-AA school; the school has been flirting with the idea of moving up to I-A, but it is unsure if it will be able to ascend.

North Clayton head football coach Don Shockley joked on Wednesday that his players are somehow able to sign letters of intent despite the coaching they've received during the last few years. Once again, a group of Eagles signed college scholarships even though they didn't fare well in the standings.

Demarcus Flanagan and Nathaniel "Champ" Rainwater will once again play on the same team n going from North Clayton Eagles to Fort Valley State University Wildcats.

"I liked the fact that Fort Valley is a running team and the coaches told me that I'm sure to be in the running back rotation," said Flanagan. "I got a good vibe from the coaches when I made my visit there. I just have to apply coach Shockley's values he taught us and I can't help but succeed."

Rainwater, who will play strong safety at Fort Valley, said he was impressed with the team's defensive scheme.

"They run a special defense that employs five defensive backs n it's a speed defense," said Rainwater, who is leaning toward Agriculture Economics as a major. "That will be nice."

Rainwater's decision came down to Clark-Atlanta University and Fort Valley State. He chose Fort Valley because he believes the football team is one of the best around.

"I really think that Fort Valley State is the best-kept secret in Georgia," Rainwater said.

He is also glad to go to college with Flanagan, one of his closest friends.

"Demarcus and I have played football together for years, starting with rec ball. He's like a brother to me and I'm glad we'll both be there," said Rainwater.

Two more North Clayton athletes, Kevin Battle and Greg McClover, also signed letters of intent Wednesday afternoon.

Battle, a News-Daily first-team wide receiver, is looking forward to playing for the West Georgia University Braves, a Division II school. He chose West Georgia because of the school's positive atmosphere.

"I felt a good vibe there, especially from the coaches and players," said Battle, who plans to major in Business. "Now all I have to do is prove to the coaches that I'm their starting wide receiver."

McClover is heading to Georgia Military College, a junior college in Milledgeville, and will play defensive end. He will be there on a dual mission n to play football and to work hard in the classroom.

"I'm going to a place where I will have the opportunity to work on my discipline," he said. "I'm not worried about playing football; I can do that n I really want to make sure my grades are good."