Above, Terri Brown, left, mother of Lovejoy offensive lineman Justin Brown talk moments after he signed his scholarship to UAB on Wednesday. Top, Randy Anyanwu calls the coaching staff at Buffalo after signing his national letter-of-intent with the Mid-American Conference team. (Staff Photos: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON — It was pretty much business as usual at Lovejoy on National Signing Day.
The Wildcats, a four-time region champion, had six players sign to colleges, including five with a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision school. Heading the list for the Wildcats was Ole Miss signee DeMarquis Gates, a four-star recruiting prospect.
Also signing on Wednesday were Randy Anyanwu and Brandon Williams with Buffalo while Jordan Collier and Justin Brown each signed with Alabama-Birmingham. Rilwan Akintoye signed with NAIA startup Southeastern University in Winter Haven, Fla.
And new head coach Edgar Carson said several more players will likely sign in the coming weeks.
“We still have some players that will be making up their minds in the coming days,” said Carson, who took over for Al Hughes in early December. “This is a great opportunity for these young men to get a free education, and continue to play football at a high level. They are all great character kids.”
Most expressed a sigh of relief once they finished filling out their scholarship paperwork with the assistance of their parents and the Lovejoy coaching staff.
“It has been a big weight lifted off my shoulders when I signed that scholarship,” said Anyanwu, an all-region defensive end. “I’m ready now to start getting ready for college football.”
In December, Anyanwu had committed to Western Kentucky, but after former coach Bobby Petrino left for the Louisville job, he began the recruiting process over. After a visit to Buffalo in mid-January, he decided to commit to the school.
“I’m really happy for him, because I know it was a tough decision,” said Randy’s mother, Victoria. “My goal was for him to pick a school he was comfortable at for academics and to play football. My part in this process was, from a spiritual side, to lift him up, and pray that he made the right decision. He is a very mature young man.”
Brown also decommitted from Western Kentucky and picked UAB a week before National Signing Day. He said he felt a little more comfortable with the Blazers coaching staff. This past season, Brown was an all-region selection after helping lead a potent offensive attack.
“Oh my God, I’m happy and relieved it is over,” Brown’s mother, Terri said. “Justin has worked hard to earn this scholarship. I’m excited for him, and this is a mother’s dream come true.”
Gates also saw his dream of playing in the SEC come true with the signing to Ole Miss. Despite missing the entire season following knee surgery, the Rebels continued to recruit the linebacker.
“They showed loyality in me, and I showed the same thing in them,” Gates said. “They have some great coaching, and some great players coming in. We are looking to start something special at Ole Miss. I’ve always wanted to play in the SEC, and Ole Miss has given me that opportunity.”