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National Signing Day: Football not the only game in town as other sports' stars sign
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Football might grab the big headlines, but signing day isn’t just about the local gridiron greats.

Flowery Branch basketball star Ishmael Hollis signed his Letter of Intent to play for Western Carolina on Wednesday.

Currently, Hollis is averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks per game for the Falcons and is a McDonald’s All-American nominee.

Next year, he’ll play for a Catamounts team that will have graduated five seniors.

“They want me to play right off the bat,” Hollis said. “But doing that depends on how hard I work so I’m going to Cullowhee in May to get started.

“I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity.”

Another hardwood star also made it official Wednesday in Gainesville’s Jaymee Carnes, who signed to play for Wake Forest.

“It’s a relief to get it over with,” Carnes said. “At first the process is fun, but then it gets to be too much and I’m just so happy to have the future set.”

Carnes will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference against traditional powerhouses Duke and North Carolina and is looking forward to the competition.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Carnes said. “I’m going into a program that’s really on the rise.”

Local baseball standouts also got in on the action Wednesday, getting their future plans out of the way and in the open in order
to focus on their forthcoming senior seasons.

“It’s super relaxing,” said Flowery Branch’s Brad Stone who signed to play at Georgia College and State University. “Now I don’t have to worry about who’s in the stands, I can just go out and have a blast.”

Lakeview Academy’s Ralston Cash, who signed to play baseball at the University of Georgia, is excited about the opportunity to have a national pulpit of sorts.

“God is giving me the stage to get the word out about him,” Cash said. “I need, and plan, to take advantage of it, which isn’t what a lot of people in my position do.”

Also signing baseball Letters of Intent were Gainesville’s Sloan Strickland (Georgia Perimeter College) and K.J. McAllister (Coastal Carolina).

“This is all overwhelming, but fun,” Strickland said. “I’m glad I’m now going to be able to enjoy the rest of the year because it’s one of the best times I’ll have in my life.”

McAllister will have 75 percent of his tuition paid for, a large sum for college baseball players, and he knows that with it comes the responsibility of hardwork.

“They only give 11.7 scholarships,” McAllister said. “So when they offer you as much as they did me, they don’t want you to come in and sit the bench.

“I want to make an instant impact and I’m going to work hard in order to make that happen.”

An interesting sidenote to another baseball signee, Michael Head (North Georgia College & State University) of North Hall, is that he’s never actually suited up for the Trojans.

“I played in showcases and went to a prospect camp at North Georgia,” Head said. “I’ve always loved baseball and I’m happy that I’ll be playing on a school team for once.”

North Hall cross country star Ty McCormack made his intentions known Wednesday when he signed to run for Clemson.

“If you’d asked me two weeks ago where I was going to school I would have said Auburn,” McCormack said. “But I took one last trip to Clemson and while there realized how great their Chinese department was and decided it was the right school for me.”

McCormack intends to major in international business and, after becoming fluent in Chinese, work in China.

“Running is going to take me places,” McCormack said. “But it isn’t going to be my career and I shouldn’t go to a college just based on the running program.”

Flowery Branch cross country runners Eileen Devico and Ana Lopera also signed Wednesday, the duo will run for Brenau University next year.

“I loved competing in high school,” Devico said. “Running is my passion and to be able to do it in college makes me really happy.”

Her future and current teammate Lopera echoed Devico’s sentiments, “I’ve always loved running and I love that the school is really close to home,” she said.

Buford also had several non-football players sign Letters of Intent on Wednesday, they included baseball players Eric Eck (Wofford), Jeb Dills (Gordon College) and Cameron Crawford (North Georgia); softball player Alysha Rudnik (Georgia Tech); tennis player Audrey Marlette (North Georgia); soccer player Jacey Chandler (South Alabama) and cross country runner Matt Johnson (Augusta State).