By James Butler
MCDONOUGH Ga. – With four new signees on Wednesday, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy has had 15 student-athletes to sign Letters of Intent this school year.
The school’s 15 signees thus far this season are participants in football, baseball, wrestling, softball, golf, and volleyball.
A pair of players from ELCA’s 2015 Class A Private School State Championship-winning football team was among the four Wednesday signees. Donald Hammond, III and Chandler Reeves, made official their pledges to Air Force and Clemson respectively.
“Chandler and D.J. were just great leaders for our football team,” ELCA head football coach Jonathan Gess said. “They were great ambassadors for our school as well, both academically and spiritually.”
Reeves said he was honored to be headed to last season’s FBS runner-up Clemson.
“I would have never thought I’d be here signing at such a big school,” he said. “It’s definitely a blessing to be here and to be able to sign with one of the top schools in the nation.”
Watching Clemson raise the program’s national profile was also exciting for Reeves.
“It’s funny how it happened,” Reeves said. “This summer when I committed I think they were No. 12, and then I commit and they have this year that blows them up. It’s kind of a cool feeling.”
The 6-foot-6, 270 pound offensive tackle may redshirt during the 2016 season as Clemson coaches would ideally like him between 290 and 300 pounds. He does not know whether he’ll play left or right tackle, but he understands that his performance will determine how far he goes.
“They haven’t decided which side yet,” Reeves said. “They said to me if you can get the job done you will play.”
Gess, for one, cannot wait to see Reeves on the field for the Tigers.
“I’m definitely excited to see what Chandler’s future holds two or three years from now,” he said.
Gess also sees Hammond as being a key piece for the future of Air Force football.
“I think D.J. has an opportunity to go in there and make an impact right away,” Gess said.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback had interest from schools like Jacksonville State, Syracuse and Clemson among others – though not all as a quarterback. Still, his decision to attend Air Force had little to do with what position he would play on the field.
“I was really looking at my future, after I graduate college,” Hammond said. “Out of all my choices, that was the most secure future I had. Graduating as an officer, the opportunities you have, that was what sold me.”
Gess said Reeves and Hammond are just a part of an outstanding senior class, some of who are being overlooked by colleges.
“I think [Reeves and Hammond] are representative of a great senior class,” Gess said. “A lot of those kids could probably go and play college [football], and might at smaller schools.”
The two other ELCA athletes to sign on Wednesday were baseball player Cole Ganopulos, who inked with Auburn and wrestler Trent Johnson, who signed with Messiah College.
They join 11 others who signed in the fall. Their names are listed below. ELCA currently has 43 student-athletes competing on the collegiate level this school year.
Macey Dunaway – Truett McConnell College – softball
Matthew Dunaway – Truett McConnell College – baseball
Brooke Echols – Troy University – softball
Jordan Long – Valdosta state – golf
Lynnlee Mather – Wingate University – volleyball
Chanel Newcomer – Auburn University at Montgomery – softball
Parker Pinholster – Auburn University at Montgomery – softball
Malia Randolph – Hofstra University – volleyball
Abigail Rogers – University of North Georgia – softball
Sara Sullivan – Truett McConnell College – softball
Alexei Young – Agnes Scott College – softball