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A signing day to remember

Last Wednesday won’t be forgotten anytime soon by seven local athletes. It’s unlikely to slip my mind, either.

On National Signing Day, Feb. 7, I reported on the group of local high school seniors that solidified their commitments to pursue college athletics.

Six of the seven attend Lanett, and six of the seven will play college football. The lone exception is Panthers forward Emanuel Littles, who will play basketball at Florida Atlantic University. Littles traversed an uncommon path en route to signing a scholarship with an NCAA Division I university.

He didn’t play organized basketball until eighth grade. In today’s hyper-competitive youth basketball culture, that’s an incredibly late start. But he didn’t let that prevent him from chasing down his dream.

Now, Littles has earned the chance to continue his career on the court and in the classroom. Make no mistake: He cares equally about succeeding in both.

In May, he’s set to become the first member of his immediate family to graduate from high school, which is an accomplishment he touts with pride. And he absolutely should.

After walking across the stage, Littles will then pack his bags for Boca Raton, Fla. There, he will be quite a ways from the future home of three Lanett peers: Anquaevious Pollard, Ty Truitt and Baraskious Dowdell. The talented trio signed to play football at Independence Community College in Independence, Kan. Their decisions came down to the wire.

Entering the final week before signing day, none of them had made their selections.

Pollard wasn’t even sure which sport he wanted to pursue — football or basketball. But a trip to Independence sold him on the school, and his teammates elected to join him.

All three have hopes of moving on to Division I programs after a couple seasons. They certainly have the talent. Dowdell was the Class 2A Lineman of the Year, Truitt was a 2A Back of the Year finalist, and Pollard was an All-State wide receiver.

Expect to see more from them in the future. The Independence football program will be featured on the Netflix hit documentary series “Last Chance U.”

LaFayette senior Robert Houston will only be a stone’s throw away from the Lanett trio.

He signed with Highland Community College, which also in Kansas.

Closer to home, Lanett’s Keavis Sands signed to play at Tennessee Valley Prep in Huntsville. His teammate, Jawon Howell, chose the University of North Alabama.

Howell’s decision also was made in the final week before signing day. But the wait proved worthwhile. On a visit to UNA’s Florence campus on Feb. 3, he was extended his first full scholarship offer.

He put pen to paper four days later, fulfilling a dream. Howell is unlikely to forget the moment anytime soon.

Neither will I.