McEachern’s signing class of 10 players included four — Kofi Amichia, Amba Etta-Tawo, Nick St. Germain and Darius English — who are headed to Football Bowl Subdivision programs, while Walton’s group of nine included Kentucky-bound brothers Daron and Zack Blaylock.
Also signed to FBS schools Wednesday were Lassiter teammates Niles Clark, Charlie Hegedus and Kenny Orjioke, North Cobb’s Darius Conoway and Martez Hester, Hillgrove’s Kenyan Drake, Osborne’s Nyiakki Height and Pebblebrook’s Khalid Henderson.
“I’ve been thinking about this moment since I first put on football pads,” said Etta-Tawo, who is expected to play wide receiver at Maryland. “This means a lot. I’m looking to go there and have a chance to play early. There style of offense suits me, so I’m really excited.”
Etta-Tawo became the second member of his family to sign with an Atlantic Coast Conference team. His older brother, Etta, signed with Clemson in the spring of 2005, though a heart abnormality forced him to give up football.
English, a defensive end, and St. Germain, a kicker, each signed with South Carolina, where they will join their former McEachern teammates — and 2011 Gamecock signees — Rory Anderson and Marcquis Roberts.
“It was really difficult to choose between multiple Southeastern Conference schools,” said the 6-6, 225-pound defensive end. “The SEC is the best conference in college for football, and having those guys already there was a big influence because now I’ll know someone there that can help me out with things.”
Amichia, a 6-4, 261-pound offensive lineman, received offers from Cincinnati, Southern Mississippi and Central Florida before deciding to go to South Florida.
“I don’t know how to swim, but I’ll definitely go to the beach a few times and see the attractions,” Amichia said of the Tampa-based school.
The Blaylock brothers picked Kentucky to extend their playing careers because, as Zack put it, “We’ve always been together and we think we work well together.”
The Blaylocks will be followed to Lexington by Henderson, who originally chose Tennessee but decommitted early last month. The linebacker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time that Vols coach Derek Dooley was noncommittal on whether he would fulfill his offer to Henderson.
“It’s been hectic,” Henderson said Wednesday. “I had to get back into (recruiting) after decommitting and had to narrow down my choices again. I’m excited to get to Kentucky’s campus early and start working.”
Also staying together will be North Cobb teammates Hester and Conoway when they enroll at Ball State.
For Hester, the decision to sign with the Cardinals was largely because of the Muncie, Ind., campus’ proximity to extended family.
“It is in Indiana, and I know it’s cold up there, but my grandparents live in Michigan, so it will be easy for them to come see me play,” he said.
Height, Osborne’s lone college signee, will be playing for a different coach than the one who recruited him — Neil Callaway was fired after the season — but that didn’t deter him from staying with the Blazers.
“I always said that, when I make my commitment, I’ll stay with it,” Height said. “I really liked the academic programs at the school. I want to major in sports medicine and they have one of the best programs around for that, so it fit me.”
Orjioke hadn’t played a full season of football until he enrolled at Lassiter before the 2011 season. The Nigerian-born defensive back moved to Cobb County from Los Angeles and got noticed almost on the spot when he began playing for the Trojans.
Ultimately, Orjioke had “20-plus” scholarship offers by the end of the season, and now he will have the chance for a homecoming after signing with UCLA and first-year Bruins coach Jim Mora Jr.
Orjioke’s two Lassiter teammates, Clark and Hegedus, both signed with North Carolina State on Wednesday.
While many of the county’s football recruits went through the whirlwind recruiting process, Drake made his decision nearly a year ago. The 6-1, 198-pound running back committed to Alabama on Feb. 14, 2011, and never looked back.
Drake was one of 26 signees for a Crimson Tide team that is restocking after winning its second BCS championship in three years.
“Coming off that national championship, I felt like I was on that team,” Drake said, “It was special to see them win because that’s where I’m headed.”