National Signing Day

EC’s Boston expected to sign with Auburn

by Chris Goltermann


All-County standouts Tonarius Portress (Newnan) , Markell Boston (East Coweta) and Bryce Gemmel (East Coweta) all expect to be signing letters of intent today. Boston will sign with Auburn while Gemmel and Portress will become teammates at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. 

For the second consecutive year on National Signing Day, a high school football safety is a signature away from joining a program in the Southeastern Conference.

But the road — as well as the destination — will differ.

Following a whirlwind final month of recruiting efforts that included an offer from East Carolina and visits to Alabama and Nebraska, East Coweta senior Markell Boston looks to have been swept away by Auburn in a last-minute effort Monday by this year’s BCS finalists.

The Indians safety/wide receiver, who earned Newnan Times-Herald Player of the Year Honors while also named Region 3-AAAAAA Defensive Player of the Year, changed his verbal commitment to Auburn shortly after learning of an offer Monday morning after returning home with a similar scholarship offer after visiting Nebraska this past weekend.

“I’m very thankful for this Auburn offer. Words can’t explain,” Boston said in a YouTube interview on Monday with an Auburn recruiting website. “That’s my dream school. It’s convenient for my mom and the rest of my family. It was a no-brainer.”

A year after Coweta County football programs produced an impressive seven Division I scholarship offers, one of which to University of Georgia safety Tray Matthews out of Newnan High, today should bring another busy day of athletes among both football and soccer standouts signing national letters of intent.

All three of the county’s public schools will hold signing ceremonies today starting with Newnan High at 8:30 a.m., and followed by East Coweta (10 a.m.) and Northgate (1:30 p.m.).

It expects to include rival players from Newnan and East Coweta becoming future junior college teammates while two members of Northgate’s 2013 Class AAAAA State Championship girls soccer team will also move on as teammates at the next level.

Boston, meanwhile, adds his name to a growing list of football standouts from Coweta that have continued to impress college scouts.

It comes after a tremendous senior season with the Indians where he made an impact on offense, defense and special teams. His totals included 87 tackles and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Along with two punt returns for scores, Boston also led the Indians with 588 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 38 catches.

All were totals that he eclipsed from his junior year at East Coweta, when he mostly spent time as a backup safety with the Indians in addition to starting on offense.

“I didn’t expect any of this to happen,”Boston said on Monday. “To commit to Auburn, that’s a big thing for me. My highlight tape for 11th grade was nearly as good.”

Unlike Matthews, who verbally committed to Georgia prior to his senior year, Boston was a relative unknown to most college scouts when the 2013 season began. Along with a change of uniform number from No. 17 to 4, was a renewed commitment to the weight room during the offseason.

"I am not going to lie," he said in September after catching three touchdown passes in the first month of the season. "I was skipping it. Now, I am sort of settling in and getting in some good workouts. It’s helped."

Boston, who received his first major Division I offer from East Carolina in mid January, was informed Monday at the school that Auburn had reached out to make an offer.

Defensive coordinator Ahmand Tinker has been at the center of recruiting efforts through East Coweta, which expects to have at least three other football players signing today at the school along with girls soccer standouts.

Among other Indians football seniors expected to sign today are Sanoj Allen with Brown University. It’s the second straight year a player with Coweta has gone on to commit to an Ivy League program, following former Heritage School star Candler Rich with Yale in 2013. Rich was a freshman standout for Yale in the fall, playing in all 10 games and earning the program’s Most Valuable Freshman award.

East Coweta senior quarterback Bryce Gemmel, who earned Times-Herald Offensive Player of the Year and All-Region honors, is expected to join Newnan All-Region players Tonarius Portress and Anfeney Turner in signing with Garden City Community College in Kansas.

Gemmel also plans to play baseball at the school, which plays in the highly competitive Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference. Most recently, former East Coweta standout running back Tay Willis competed for Highland Community’s football program before signing last year with Southern Illinois.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, West Georgia Technical College announced it was withdrawing a proposal to add football as a competitive sport that would have made it just the second NJCAA program in the state. Four seniors from Coweta signed with the school last February.

WGTC Interim President Pat Hannon said the program has been under review and it has become evident that the College could not continue to sustain the requirements for the program as well as the associated long-term costs.

“After careful consideration, West Georgia Technical College has chosen to withdraw a request that was made to the Technical College System of Georgia to approve football as an additional athletic program for the Golden Knights,” Hannon said in a prepared release.

In addition to Boston, Gemmel and Allen, Indians senior running back Weylin Orr is expected to sign with the Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. All-Region and All-County offensive lineman Qua Fuller has also received attention from college recruiters.

Newnan’s football signees today are also expected to include senior Chris Porter with Point University. Teammate and fellow All-Region and All-County defensive lineman Mark Harris is also mulling offers among standout players to receive attention from college recruiters.

“He’s still figuring thing out right now,” said Newnan head football coach Mike McDonald of Harris, who wants to major in architecture with an emphasis on building construction.

The senior recently received the school’s Coca-Cola Golden Helmet Award for academic and athletic performance.

Trinity Christian also has several seniors receiving attention from college scouts including quarterback/safety Daniel Shoates, fullback/defensive lineman J.D. Farlow and wide receiver Glen Whisby.

Heading into what should be an exceptional girls soccer season this spring, seniors from both East Coweta and Northgate’s programs will be among those to have athletes signing today.

Lady Viking midfielder Taylor Hendrix and defender Ashley Keller will both move on to play at Shorter College. At East Coweta, forwards Serenity Waters and Nicole Brandley will ink scholarships with UNC-Wilmington and Georgia Southern over consecutive days.

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