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NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Early County’s Powell takes JUCO route to keep SEC dreams alive

Early County’s Shaq Powell, second from left, is joined Wednesday during his signing ceremony with GMS by, from left, his mother, Linda Powell, father Willie Thomas and brother Cedric Powell. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

Early County’s Shaq Powell, second from left, is joined Wednesday during his signing ceremony with GMS by, from left, his mother, Linda Powell, father Willie Thomas and brother Cedric Powell. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

BLAKELY — Shaquille Powell had his choice of nearly a dozen Division II football programs, ready to offer him a full ride.

Instead, Early County’s offensive lineman decided to gamble.

Rather than accepting a scholarship to a series of D-II schools — and even Division I Western Michigan — Powell kept his dream of playing in the SEC alive on Wednesday by signing with Georgia Military, a junior college that gives Powell a shot to transfer to one of his dream schools after just two years.

“I wasn’t getting the offers I wanted, and Georgia Military gives me what I need to end up in the SEC,” said Powell, who had offers from four-year schools, including Georgia State, Savannah State, Albany State and Fort Valley State. “(GMC) has a bunch of players in the SEC, and that’s where I want to be.”

Early County coach Trey Woolf said that goal isn’t out of the question for his star lineman, who was a two-time All-Region 1-AA player, a three-year starter and a big reason the Bobcats reached the Elite 8 in the Class AA state playoffs.

“He was one of the better offensive linemen we have had here in a long time,” Woolf said. “I think (GMC) is a great decision for him. I think (he has what it takes to play in the SEC), and Georgia Military thinks so. Those are the type of players they look for.”

Powell was also an offensive guard his senior season at Early but sees himself as a defensive tackle at GMC.

“I love offense, but you have to be a monster to play defense,” said Powell, who is 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds. “I love hitting people on defense, and that’s where (the GMC coaching staff) wants me.”