By Doug Gorman
Eagle's Landing Christian Academy is building a pipeline for its athletes, and it leads straight to Athens.
Thursday morning long-distance runner Luke Baker became the third ELCA athlete to sign an athlete scholarship to the University of Georgia this year,
He joins softball player Julia Echols and soccer player Carli Shultis as new members of the Bulldog Nation.
Also on Thursday, football player Darrien Hudson signed his football letter of intent to play football at Antelope Valley College in California.
Baker is about to begin his senior track season, but he already has compiled an impressive resume. The future Bulldog won the 3200 last spring and added a cross country title in the fall.
Now his goal is to finish strong with a state title in the mile-run.
Unlike many athletes who head to Georgia to continue their athletic careers, Baker never grew up bleeding red and black, but once he visited the campus, he knew he was home.
"I never really was a fan of anybody," he said. "When I visited the campus I loved it."
Baker, who is still undecided about his major, looks forward to the competition once he gets to college.
"It will be fun to compete against guys even in practice who are at the same level. I have always enjoyed competing. and I look forward to the challenge."
Hudson heads West: If they gave an award for the ELCA athlete traveling the furthest to play at the next level Hudson might win. Hudson will play for the two-year school located in Lancaster, Calf.
Hudson found the junior college on line after his ELCA coaches helped him find a place to play.
"Some of our coaches know their coaches, and they saw me play on film and were really excited about me," he said.
Hudson will play slot receiver for the Mauraders with the hopes of eventually transferring to a four-year school closer to home to finish his career.
"I just going to keep on working hard, working harder then I did here, and maybe move on from here," he said. "I like schools in the Southeast, but if I find a school out there that's fine too, I am just going to let it take care of itself."
ELCA athletic director Scott Queen has watched his school take its sports program from a GIS program to a competitive Class A squad in the Georgia High School Association.
He says with seven athletes signing letters of intent this year, including Baker and Hudson this week, ELCA seniors are being rewarded for their hard work.
"They are incredible kids, with great work ethics, and great academic records," he said. That is why they are where they are at right now."
Baker and Hudson join six other ELCA athletes who have already signed scholarships.
Echols, Shultis, Will Evans (Georgia Southern--golf) and Patrick Evans (Jacksonville State--baseball) and Katie Patterson (Georgia Perimeter--softball) will also play at the next level.