• Jackets, Bulldogs cement commitments to colleges on National Signing Day.

Rockmart and Cedartown High School students gathered with their families to cement big decisions in their lives, repeating a tradition being carried out across the nation as college programs begin planning for their futures.

A trio of Rockmart players and a lone Cedartown player donned hats and made commitments to schools across the country last Wednesday for National Signing Day.

The Jackets held their ceremony first, gathering Cade Holder, Ridge Blackwell and Jay Hinkle together in the Rockmart High School library with their families and teammates to sign the paperwork with schools declaring their intent to head off to the next level in the fall.

Holder committed himself to Reinhardt University Eagles in Waleska with his parents and family by his side, including parents Terri and Jason Morrow, and Lee Holder.

“I’ve been waiting this my whole life,” Holder said.

Holder said he chose the school because to him, it felt like home, “and they win, so you can’t beat that.”

He plans to focus on business during his time at Rhinehart.

Blackwell, who was joined by his parents Contessa Lee and Walt Blackwell, signed his offer from LaGrange College to play football for the Panthers in the coming seasons.

“It just seemed like something I liked, and I love playing football,” Blackwell said of LaGrange College. “They gave me an opportunity to play again.”

Blackwell plans to focus on pre-engineering at LaGrange College, which has a program in partnership with Georgia Tech that can then be applied to time at the Atlanta college, or at Auburn University across the border in Alabama.

Hinkle is heading farther away than other players in Polk County, going away to Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Ohio to play for the Falcons program. He was joined by parents Ebony Thompson and Kevin Bluefield.

Though a small school in the suburbs of Cleveland, Hinkle said that he felt “it was the best offer” for him to continue playing.”

He is undecided about what he will study yet.

Jackets head coach Biff Parson said the trio of senior signees is the real goal of the football program, because after the tallies of wins and losses the opportunities they’ll have as college scholar athletes means a whole new world opening up to them.

“Football is a small piece of what we do in life,” he said. “They’ll be able to take that academic piece of this opportunity and have it for the rest of their lives, and that is huge. That is what we want to see here at Rockmart, to see the younger kids extend their athletic and academic careers after they graduate.”

He added the important lessons for student athletes to take from signing day is they can have these opportunities as well, so long as they work hard from the time they start as a Rockmart Yellow Jacket to the time their high school career ends, with the real focus on their education.

Signing Day closed in Polk County at Cedartown High School as students gathered in their library to celebrate a Bulldog who had a big year all of his own.

A top region player, Ironman award winner and a senior leader the Bulldogs front line will miss in 2018 signed with Shorter University last week as he heads on to play for the Hawks in their Division II program.

Cruz Rodriguez was joined by his parents Stacey and Francisco Rodriguez, along with brother Jacob for the signing with the Rome school, along with teammates and coaches in an afternoon ceremony.

He won’t be the only Bulldog to sign this year. Senior Trevon Wofford is expected to sign with University of Pikeville in Kentucky, but has yet to make the commitment final.