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National Signing Day: Numerous local athletes expected to sign letters of intent
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Today’s the day when the top high school football prospects put the pen to paper and sign their letter of intent to play college football. National signing day makes all those flimsy verbal commitments finally the real thing.

There’s no more wiggle room for players to change their minds. No more official visits. And for this year’s senior class, recruiting web site chatter and rumors are now a thing of the past.

The thing that stands out about the signing class of 2008 locally, much more so than last year’s class, is that everything was bound to change at a moment’s notice.

Habersham Central’s Tavarres King, The Times 2007 Football Player of the Year, is one of the only major Division I signees in the area that never wavered with his original commitment. King declared at the end of his junior year of high school he was going to sign with the Georgia Bulldogs, and the speedy wide receiver already made it official, signing his letter of intent with the Bulldogs prior to signing day. Buford’s Demetris Murray also never wavered in his early verbal commitment to attend his first choice of South Florida.

But King’s and Murray’s firm early decisions were clearly the exception to the rule.

The rest of the class of 2008 was up in the air almost until the last minute.

A Seminole decided he’d rather be a Buckeye. One future Fighting Irish decided Gators were better. And the Yellow Jackets picked up one recruit and lost another following initial verbal commitments.

Gainesville High defensive end Keith Wells declared just two days ago that he was going to sign with Ohio State. The Times Elite 11 pick originally decided early on in the process he would fit best at Florida State, before looking north to schools like OSU, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

Flowery Branch quarterback Jaybo Shaw, The Times 2006 Football Player of the Year, originally committed to sign with Middle Tennessee State. After Georgia Tech fired former coach Chan Gailey and hired Paul Johnson, the Yellow Jackets extended a scholarship offer Shaw’s way.

He quickly accepted.

But Gailey’s departure and Johnson’s hire for the Yellow Jackets didn’t have the same effect on every player previously verbally committed.

Buford linebacker T.J. Pridemore was verbally committed to play for Georgia Tech. Then the coaching turnover took place and he decided he would be better suited for a new school (Florida) and even a new position (fullback).

It turns out, Pridemore will be moving to Gainesville, Fla. with a friend.

Buford defensive tackle Omar Hunter, the No. 2 rated defensive lineman prospect in the country by, will also be signing with the Gators. Hunter committed fairly early in the recruiting process to Notre Dame. However, he eventually opened up his recruiting possibilities to a final three of Florida, Georgia and Southern Cal, before choosing the Gators last month.

Gainesville’s Tyler Adetona also had a change of heart, choosing Indiana over his original verbal commitment of Troy.

Other notable expected signings today include White County’s Brandon Vaught (Western Carolina), Riverside Military’s Tersoo Uhaa (Furman), Buford’s Jaytee Swanson (Miami of Ohio), Cody Vining (preferred walk-on to Valdosta State), Kody Case (Valdosta State). Wolves senior Billy Johnson will attend Georgia as a preferred walk-on to be a snapper, Buford coach Jess Simpson said.

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