By Doug Gorman
Avery Walls was all set to finish up his high school football career at Union Grove.
Then you might say divine intervention took over.
After a family move and the desire for a Christian-based education, Walls, a highly-recruited Division I safety, enrolled this summer at Eagle's Landing Christian Academy.
He becomes part of a Class A program with 75 players, including Christian Reeves, who has committed to Virginia Tech and Matt Rochell, who will play his college football at the Air Force Academy.
ELCA landed Walls after his mother phoned the school this summer, informing them of the family's desire for the talented football player to enroll at the private school in McDonough so he could get a Christian education.
"It wasn't so much a football thing as it was she wanted him to be part of this environment to finish out his high school experience. It's good when there's a buzz about you and it's a good buzz," said assistant coach Tim Luke, who is also on the pastoral staff at Eagle's Landing First Baptist.
Head coach Jonathan Gess, who is 24-11 in three years at ELCA with trips to the playoffs each season, is glad Walls was added to the roster.
"He is a good kid, and he is the type of kid we want here at ELCA," Gess said. "To be honest with you, we are building a program here where kids want to come and play."
Walls said he was welcomed with open arms at his new school even before many of his new classmates realized he was a football player."
"You get a Christian education, and you are surrounded by players and coaches who are going to love you every day," he said. "It's a great environment, both socially and academically. That is a really big mix."
Walls isn't ready to announce his college choice yet, but he has cut down the list and will decide officially after making some more visits.
No matter where he lands, it will be with a big-time program.
Among those schools which still have a chance to land Walls are Stanford, Cal, UCLA, Virginia, Michigan and Michigan State.
Walls and his teammates opened practice Monday, which was also the first day of school at ELCA.
It hasn't taken the new ELCA football player long to adjust to his new surroundings.
"I want to bring leadership. Our defense has to become one. We are already a family, which is a great start." Walls said. We just have to make sure we are on the same page once the season starts."
Walls will officially make his debut for the Chargers on Aug. 27 when the team travels across the state line for a game against North Florida in Tallahassee.