County athletes sign college letters of intent
by Emily Horos
April 17, 2014 01:49 AM | 3981 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
All of the Cherokee County School District athletes who attended the NCAA signing day ceremony pose for a picture at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center on Tuesday. In all, 36 county athletes signed national letters of intent to  continue their playing careers at the next level.
All of the Cherokee County School District athletes who attended the NCAA signing day ceremony pose for a picture at the Northside Hospital Cherokee Conference Center on Tuesday. In all, 36 county athletes signed national letters of intent to continue their playing careers at the next level.
CANTON – Cherokee County school administrators and coaches paused Wednesday to recognize a crop of high school athletes, who have made their decisions to play sports at the college level public by signing a National Letter of Intent.

The ceremony, sponsored by the school district, was the second to be held this spring. It recognized 36 athletes, who signed their Letter of Intent between Feb. 6 and April 16. Each of the county’s six high schools was represented. Etowah has the most signees with nine. Cherokee and Creekview had seven each. Woodstock had six. River Ridge had five and Sequoyah had two.

Among the latest to be added to the list of signees was Etowah basketball player Jack Shaughnessy, who finished his career with the Eagles with 1,168 points and signed with Seattle University in Washington. Shaughnessy said he made his decision two weeks ago, but didn’t announce it until Tuesday.

“It was a big decision, but I was really happy with the coaches there,” Shaughnessy said. “The coaches there have been recruiting me since the beginning of my senior year. They have been consistent.”

Cameron Dollar, the coach of the Redhawks, was a point guard like Shaughnessy and the player said the connected pretty quickly.

“I love ball screens and they run a lot of ball screens,” Shaughnessy said. “(Dollar) was the point guard for UCLA when they won the national title (in 1995). He is a players’ coach. It fits perfectly.”

Etowah boys’ basketball and boys tennis coach Don Hurlburt said that seeing Shaughnessy’s letter-of-intent brought him back to his own day of signing in high school.

In addition to Shaughnessy, Hurlburt stood with two of his tennis players — Taylor Barie (Carson-Newman) and Ryan Templet (The Citadel) — as they were also recognized.

Hurlburt wasn’t the only coach serving double duty for the ceremony. Creekview athletic director Kevin Higgins stood with six athletes that signed, but sat next to his daughter, Lindsey Higgins, who was recognized for committing to play volleyball for Reinhardt next year.

Kevin Higgins called it a proud moment.

“As an administrator you are very proud, but when your own daughter signs and has the opportunity to go play at the college level, that’s outstanding,” Higgins said.

For some athletes, the road to a college scholarship took a bit longer. That was the case with Cherokee wide receiver Blace Brown. In his final season with the Warriors, and his only as a wide receiver, Brown led Class AAAAAA in receiving yards and set a school record for receptions with 80. He was eventually named All-State and the Cherokee Tribune Offensive Player of the Year. But because he did not play that position until his final year of high school, not many colleges new what Brown could do for them. He finally signed with Troy University.

Another Cherokee football player, Logan Witherow signed with Reinhardt.

“Obviously you are very proud,” Cherokee football coach Josh Shaw said. “They have worked very hard to get to this point. It’s great recognition not only for them, but for our program as well.”

Sequoyah’s Lex Lauletta was another player that took some extra time to find the perfect fit. The two-sport athlete, who played quarterback for the football team and is also a leader on the golf team, signed with Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where he will play both sports.

Darwin Breaux, who serves as the quarterback coach and head football coach, is also the men’s golf coach.

“When I found that out, I just knew it was the perfect situation,” Lauletta said. “I said to him ‘if go for football, you’ve got to give me a spot on the golf team too’. He said that would be no problem.”

Lauletta is in midst of the goal season with the Chiefs, but said he continues to practice his quarterback skills to stay sharp in both games.

“I’ve been throwing in the yard and just trying to get better every day,” he said.

Woodstock football coach Brent Budde has the largest group of players signed. Tyler Baggett (West Virginia Wesleyan), Austin Biggers (Ohio Northern University), Blake Jacobs (Rhodes College) and Andrew Lenhart-Frey (United States Merchant Marine Academy) will all be moving on from the Wolverines.

For Baggett, who plans to pursue and advanced degree, academics were as important as athletics.

“I feel like I found a school that fits my academic and my football interests,” Baggett said. “They are on the upswing with football and will allow me to take pre-pharmacy classes. I’m extremely pleased with the school I chose.”

Cherokee softball player Layken Adkins was one of the few players to actually sign her letter of intent at the ceremony. With the staff from West Georgia Technical College on site, Adkins made her commitment official.

River Ridge football players Devantae McIntosh and E.J. Ellis are both headed to University of the Cumberlands — but not before they compete in the Region 7AAAA track meet. Girls’ basketball coach and track coach Jason Taylor was waiting at the event to take the pair, along with Lucy Stone to compete in the meet later on Wednesday.

Among the Division I signees were Etowah’s Brandon Engle (football, Coastal Carolina), Brent Jones (baseball, New Jersey Institute of Technology), and Victoria Stairs (lacrosse, Kennesaw State), River Ridge’s Nick Masterson (basketball, Kennesaw State)

Cherokee baseball player Trevor Nevill and Creekview volleyball player Kayley Edgar elected to stay close to home, signing with Reinhardt. Creekview wrestler Hunter Smith won’t be going far either, as he inked with Life University in Marietta.


Name Sport College

Mariah Johnson Soccer Faulkner

Tevor Nevill Baseball Reinhardt

Stephanie Gillenwater Volleyball Clark Atlanta

Layken Adkins Softball West Ga. Tech. College

Blace Brown Football Troy

Logan Witherow Football Reinhardt

Jordan Cox Lacrosse Young Harris


Name Sport College

Emily Fraysier Tennis College of Coastal Ga.

Kayley Edgar Volleyball Reinhardt

Destiny Pellegrino Lacroose Point University

Isaiah Rodgers Football Emory and Henry Colllege

Lera McNamara CC/Track Tennessee Tech

Lindsey Higgins Volleyball Reinhardt

Hunter Smith Wrestling Life University


Name Sport College

Brent Jones Baseball N.J. Inst. of Technology

J.T. Thomas Baseball Chattahoochee Valley C.C.

Jack Shaughnessy Basketball Seattle University

Brandon Engle Football Coastal Carolina

Keith Gordon Football Georgia Military Acad.

Victoria Stairs Lacrosse Kennesaw State

Taylor Barie Tennis Carson-Newman

Ryan Templet Tennis The Citadel

Joey Payton Wrestling Brewton-Parker College

River Ridge

Name Sport College

Nick Masterson Basketball Kennesaw State

Jake Hicks Tennis Middle Ga. State Devantae McIntosh Football Univ. of the Cumberlands

E.J. Ellis Football Univ. of the Cumberlands

Lucy Stone Basketball Armstrong Atlantic State


Name Sport College

Kristina Koslowski Swimming Queens University (N.C.)

Lex Lauletta FB/Golf Dickinson College (PA)


Name Sport College

Parker Austin Baseball Berry College

Tyler Baggett Football West Virginia Wesleyan

Austin Biggers Football Ohio Northern

Blake Jacobs Football Rhodes College

Andrew Lenhart-Frey Football U.S. Merchant Marine Acad.

Esteban Suarez Lacrosse North Greenville University

Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides