Local student-athletes shine during NCAA early signing period

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It was another busy NCAA early signing day across the area as dozens of local student-athletes signed their National Letters of Intent.

Lakeside senior lacrosse player Ridge Johnson made the biggest splash, becoming the first athlete in school history to sign a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame. Johnson chose the Fighting Irish over offers from Harvard, Furman and Towson, among others.

Johnson led the Panthers to back-to-back 6A Region 3 titles. His superb academic record, along with his exposure at camps, his play with the Panthers and with his Atlanta-based travel team, drew the attention of Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan.

“The academics were really a big thing for me and the networking that would come out of getting a degree from Notre Dame, because academics is something that I take pride in,” said Johnson. “This was the best fit for me, going up there and visiting the campus was a great time and I think I can spend the next four years of my life there,” he added.

Lakeside’s Ridge Johnson signs to play lacrosse at Notre Dame.

The Lander Bearcats will start their varsity wrestling program with Evans High School wrestling legend Drew Eller. The senior begins his final season of high school wrestling with a perfect 158-0 record. The three-time state champion chose Lander over several Division I offers so he could help build a program from the ground up. Lander begins a competitive varsity schedule in December of 2019.

“Right before I was about to commit, I visited Lander and I just felt that the campus, the staff and everything made sense to me, like literally everyone says it felt right,” said Eller. “I walked onto the campus and just felt like this where I am going to be, it felt right ,” he continued.

Eller will put his perfect high school record on the line when the Knights begin the 2019 varsity wrestling season on November 19.

Evans wrestler Drew Eller signs to Lander in front of his family.

Edmund Burke Academy’s Jeremy Gay grew up watching the Georgia Southern Eagles baseball team, with dreams of one day suiting up for the Eagles. The first college baseball game he ever attended was at J.I. Clements Stadium in Statesboro. Tuesday he got one step closer to his dream, as he signed to play with Georgia Southern.

“It is really just a dream come true, looking forward to this day for my whole life,” said Gay. “I have had a dream of playing college baseball but it’s also been a dream to play at Georgia Southern University, and I now I get the opportunity to do both of those things, so it’s pretty special for me,” he added.

Gay helped lead the Spartans to the 2018 GISA state championship. His head coach, Waynesboro native and former Major League Baseball pitcher Jonathan Broxton, is proud to see another local player pursue his dreams with GSU.

“Luckily he is going to a school where I signed, so I knew some of the coaches and I made some calls after he committed and all that so it has been really really fun for me to be able to be a coach this year,” said Broxton.

Edmund Burke Academy’s Jeremy Gay signs to play baseball at Georgia Southern.

There will be more signings around the CSRA through the third Wednesday in November.

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