LaGrange plucks two Patriots

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SHELLMAN -- Randolph Southern headmaster Terry Tedder had to pause the signing of Patriots stars Michael Ledford and Loy DeVane on Tuesday morning so he could get two more pieces of scenery for the picture -- a football and helmet.

Clearly, football signings at the GISA school are a new experience.

Actually, Tuesday's was the first.

Ledford and DeVane became the first Patriots to ever sign letters of intent with a college, pledging their intentions to play at NCAA Division III LaGrange. Ledford, a lineman, had 91 tackles last season, including two sacks. DeVane, who was the team's quarterback, passed for 913 yards and 13 touchdowns, and rushed for a team-high 868 yards and nine scores.

Here's another first -- they are the first Patriots football players to be honored with GISA All-Region (3-A) and All-State (Class A) honors and also given the opportunity to compete in the annual All-Star game.

"When you wanted to run the ball, you ran the ball behind Michael," said Randolph Southern coach Ottis Griggs, referring to Ledford who also started on the offensive line. "And with Loy, if you wanted to win, your best chance was putting the ball in his hands."

LaGrange was Ledford's only football choice, and DeVane said he also attracted interest from schools such as the University of the Cumberlands.

"I like the coaches, and they told me just to work hard in the fall and that would give me the best chance at playing time," said Ledford, who also caught a 17-yard touchdown pass in a game.

Neither player said he practiced his signature the night before, but DeVane -- who added that coaches told him hard work this fall which could lead to more playing time -- added that Monday night lasted longer than normal.

"I wasn't as nervous as I was excited," DeVane said. "It's just such a big day. The fact that we are the first to sign means a whole lot, but the fact we are signing together to play at the same school makes it even more special."

Griggs addressed the importance of working hard and following dreams, pointing out to younger students that many of them are bigger than Ledford (6 feet, 250 pounds) was at their age.

Considering that, both players said they want to use their signings as an inspiration to others.

"I love talking to little kids, it's like I'm a J.V. track coach already," Ledford said. "It's something that can motivate them."

But first, the players dealt with one other urgency after signing -- eating breakfast.

Ledford went back to finishing his chicken biscuit, joking that was how he was going to celebrate the signing.

DeVane, obviously, agreed that would be a good idea.

"I might follow him up and get a chicken biscuit myself," DeVane laughed.