Seniors select colleges

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Wednesday was National Signing Day, an unofficial holiday for rabid college football fans, and high school seniors from Covington County were among the young student-athletes making decisions.

Three Straughn Tigers made their plans for the future official at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning in the field house on the campus of Straughn High School.

Straughn seniors Garrett Windham and Michael Hobbs both signed letters of intent to play Division I-AA football in the Southern Conference.

Fellow Straughn Tiger Brent Nall declined to accept offers and followed his heart making a commitment to the University of Alabama.

Red Level's Randall Hunt is also being recruited and has at least one offer on the table. Hunt, however, did not sign Wednesday. He is waiting to make a decision.

Garrett signed a letter of intent to play college football in Tennessee as a member of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (UTC) Mocs.

Straughn Head Coach Trent Taylor said Windham was recruited by Samford, Middle Tennessee State University and UTC. The decision to sign with the Mocs came at a time when Windham is just now beginning to realize his own potential, Taylor said.

"Garrett is a kid who I think, finally, in the last two-and-a-half years, realized what a young man with a 6-foot-6 frame can do," Taylor said.

The scary thing for the defenders who will try to get past Windham and to the quarterback is that he is still growing. He is 17 and will not turn 18 until this summer.

Taylor said he expects the effective Windham to play offensive tackle for the Mocs after an impressive career at Straughn.

Windham capped off his high school career with at least 15 pancake blocks in 2003 while serving as the "anchor of the strong side of the offensive line," Taylor said.

"He had positive grades in all 11 games this past season," Taylor added.

Straughn running back Michael Hobbs will also play Division I-AA football in the Southern Conference as a member of the Wofford College Terriers.

Hobbs signed with the Terriers after being recruited by Louisville, The Citadel, Furman, Delta State and Samford.

Taylor said Hobbs' decision to sign with Wofford had a lot to do with the Terriers offense and the school's academics.

"I think the simple fact that in the day and age we live in everybody throws the ball 60 times a game and Wofford runs the ball 60 times a game. I think that had a lot to do with it," Taylor said. "I project Michael as playing fullback and halfback. They use a lot of backs and he could see some playing time next season."

The Terriers are coming off a successful season losing to eventual National Champion Delaware in the playoffs. The Terriers were 12-2 overall and won the Southern Conference with a perfect 8-0 record. Wofford Head Coach Mike Ayers received the Eddie Robinson Award as the Division I-AA Coach of the Year.

Taylor said Hobbs has always wanted to be a doctor and Wofford's reputation as being strong academically did not hurt in the school's recruitment of the Tiger's leading rusher in 2003.

Hobbs capped off his high school career with 1,581 yards and 10 touchdowns on 224 carries in 2003 to go with 142 yards and 1 touchdown receiving. For his career, Hobbs rushed for 4,153 yards and 44 touchdowns on 697 carries. He also caught 48 passes for 569 yards and 3 touchdowns. On special teams, Hobbs amassed 885 returns yards on 56 attempts.

Straughn linebacker Brent Nall committed to the University of Alabama on Wednesday after being recruited by the Crimson Tide. Nall made an official visit to the Capstone during the football season and even entertained Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula in Andalusia when he flew down to recruit the linebacker.

The Crimson Tide's scholarship limitations, however, meant Shula could not offer Nall a scholarship. The University of Wyoming was also recruiting Nall and even flew him up to "Cowboy Country" for an official visit. Samford and Delta State were also after Nall.

In the end, it came down to a dream.

"I think when Brent looked on down the road, he saw himself in a crimson helmet," Taylor said about his star linebacker. "I think if scholarship limitations wouldn't have been what they are he would have been offered.

"Brent committed to the University of Alabama when he was seven-years-old," Taylor added.

Nall should be a middle linebacker on the college level and Taylor said he expects him to work hard to get playing time very soon.

"If Brent has a good preseason, with their depth, I think he could see playing time on special teams," Taylor said.

Nall capped off his career as a Straughn Tiger with 61 solo tackles and 89 assists in 2003. He also recorded 10 tackles for a loss. Nall's career statistics add up to 155 solo tackles with 277 assists and 22 tackles for a loss. He also recovered four fumbles, intercepted a pass and blocked a punt.