FROM THE SIDELINES: SIgning Day is about the athletes

Published 10:53 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It is Signing Day. And often lost in all of the excitement and hoopla surrounding college football and its newest crop of players is one simple aspect; the kids who play the game.

For all the talk about Marcus Lattimore, Eric Mack, Phillip Sims and DeMarcus Milliner and where they will play and who they will help and where they project, we often miss out on the number of young men who will have an opportunity to get get a free education while playing the game they love.

We get excited about the kids that are heading to the buzz schools like Alabama and Auburn and forget that the kid going to Miles College or West Alabama or Jacksonville State deserves just as much celebration.

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Wednesday, a few individuals will get together to celebrate some of those athletes. Six of Marengo County’s seven collegiate commits are headed to Batter Up in Demopolis just before lunch to pose for pictures, shake hands, answer questions and enjoy their day.

When we at The Times first presented the idea, Jason Windham and the folks at Batter Up jumped at the chance to open their doors at lunchtime and welcome in the public especially for the event and Sean Parker and Rob Pearson loved the notion of using the 104.9 Coaches’ Show format to further promote local youth. So Wednesday’s event will be the production of a handful of separate entities with a common goal; the celebration and encouragement of local young people.

Demopolis High’s Larry Cobb (Tuskegee), Anthony Hardy (Tuskegee), Fred Irby (Jacksonville State) and Martaze Jackson (Tennessee) will meet up with Linden’s Justin Delaine (Auburn) and A.L. Johnson’s Jeron Boykin (Troy) for a few hours to bask in their accomplishments to this point and talk about the road that lies ahead.

And that is what Signing Day should be. It should be a landmark, commemorating what young athletes have accomplished to this point and an acknowledgement of the opportunities and hard work that still await them.

And, truth be told, it doesn’t really matter from a real world standpoint whether it is USC or Kentucky or the College of the Ozarks. Every player who gets an opportunity to continue playing the game he loves and further his education and personal development in the process deserves celebrating.