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NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Americus-Sumter stars Cochran, Wiggins head to next level

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AMERICUS -- Americus-Sumter County defensive end Keldrik Cochran made the Albany State-Fort Valley State rivalry more interesting -- at least within his own family.

While older brothers James Cochran and Corey Kendrick already attend Fort Valley State (not for football), Keldrik Cochran signed a national letter-of-intent Wednesday morning to play football at Albany State, while teammate Keon Wiggins inked with Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.

One of the higher profile matchups in the SIAC with the annual Fountain City Classic in Columbus, the ASU-FVSU series swung Fort Valley State's way last season when the Wildcats recently won their first game in the series (35-13) since 2001.

"It's going to be good, there's going to be some rivalry going when I get back to the house," Cochran said with a laugh.

In Cochran's first season as a full-time starter, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound bruiser registered 97 tackles, including 19 for loss and was named to The Herald's All-Area team. Americus-Sumter defensive line coach Andre Slappey, who played at Albany State, feels Cochran can make an immediate impact at his alma mater.

"(Albany State) looks for big, physical players, and Keldrik plays hard," Slappey said. "It's good to have guys like that in a Rams uniform. I hope he will do well. He definitely made the rivalry in his family a lot stronger now, that's all I can say about it."

Cochran, who rejected offers from Fort Valley State and one of the Rams' other rivals, Tuskegee, is a player former Americus-Sumter coach Mark Wilson feels can thrive at Albany State.

"Keldrik was a quiet leader for us," said Wilson, who resigned from that position in December. "He had a great year, was hard to block and I feel his best days are ahead of him."

Wiggins, who scored a final-minute touchdown for a 21-14 win against Crisp County last season, said he hopes to use his speed at the next level. Accounting for 358 yards receiving and four touchdowns, the 5-7, 150-pound Wiggins has been clocked by Wilson at 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

"He's a difference maker and I hope he will get a little stronger as he goes on to college," Wilson said. "Hopefully he will move on to a four-year school."

Wiggins said he is excited about the opportunity.

"I've heard it would be a great start for me because I can bring a lot of speed," Wiggins said.

After hearing from Hutchinson's coaching staff he could play a similar receiver position to what he played at Americus-Sumter, Wiggins said that would be a big comfort factor. More importantly, Wiggins said he was told he had a good chance at playing time.

"I will have a chance to start, but they will have something like 12 receivers on the team," Wiggins said. "I'd like to play at either Florida or Georgia at the next level, so I want to make a big impression at Hutchinson first."