By Doug Gorman
With the start of the high school football season less than a month away, Lovejoy senior quarterback Mario Fannin won't have to worry anymore about impressing college recruiters.
The Wildcats' senior quarterback has verbally committed to play college football for the Auburn Tigers. Although verbal commitments aren't legally binding, Fannin is expected to sign with the Tigers next February on National Signing Day.
"He told me tonight he was going to play for the Auburn Tigers," said Lovejoy coach Al Hughes. "I am so proud of him. He's a great kid, and he is deserving of this. He could have gone anywhere in the country, but playing at Auburn will be a great opportunity for him. There are a lot of former Auburn football players playing on Sunday."
Fannin is a gifted athlete, capable of playing several positions once he gets to college, including wide receiver and defensive back, should he not win a role as a starting quarterback.
The Wildcats' rising senior found himself in an SEC recruiting battle as Tennessee and Florida were among the teams showing interest.
There has been an SEC recruiting pipeline stretching from Lovejoy High School during the last couple of seasons as former Wildcat standouts have moved on to play at the major-college level.
Offensive lineman Anthony Parker, a redshirt- freshman, and Chris Scott, a true freshman, will both be seeking time as starters on the Tennessee offensive line this season.
Former Lovejoy defensive lineman Michael Heard is projected to be starter at Mississippi State.
Keith Fitzhugh is also enrolled at Mississippi State and ready to start his freshman year for the Bulldogs.
"It's great to have so many kids playing in the SEC. I can assure you, it says a lot about their hard work, not their coach," Hughes said.
Fannin returns to the Lovejoy lineup for his senior year with the goal of leading the Wildcats to another Region 4-AAAAA title.
A year ago, the Wildcats lost to Mt. Zion and North Clayton to open the season, but bounced back to finish with an 8-4 record.
Lovejoy beat Redan 24-14 in the first round of the playoffs, but fell to Houston County 44-26 in the second round to end its season.