College football’s early signing period got underway on Wednesday with Coosa’s Sean Brown and Gavin Hughes signing with Division I programs during a ceremony in the school’s media center. Brown made good on his commitment to the University of Tennessee, while Hughes will be joining the Mercer Bears.

“Both of these guys have shown a lot of sacrifice this season,” Coosa head coach Todd Wheeler said of the seniors. “Sean missed six games and Gavin played through an injury. Then they each made the move to tackle for our playoff game. It’s a testament to the type of teammates they are.”

Brown announced his commitment to the Volunteers after Coosa’s spring game in May and stayed strong on his choice throughout his final season with the Eagles.

“It’s really unreal. It’s been a lifetime dream of mine of play SEC football, so it’s kind of unbelievable to get to this point,” Brown said. “I’m blessed to be able to do this and get this chance.”

Hughes said his recruitment process was hard, but when Mercer became an opportunity, he knew he would have a place to go where he could thrive.

“You never knew when someone was looking at you or not, so it was slow,” Hughes said. “But when Mercer first said they wanted to offer me, I just had them in my head. And when they did offer, I visited the campus and it seemed like a great place. It was like family down there. I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

Even though Brown missed more than half the regular season with an injury he still managed 41 tackles and six sacks this season, including 10 tackles for a loss. He also had three fumble recoveries.

“Sean is still 17 and will probably hit another growth spurt,” Wheeler said. “It will be interesting to see what happens in his development over the next couple of years.”

The Region 7-AA Defensive Player of the Year, Hughes finished with 127 total tackles after moving from outside linebacker to inside linebacker while getting nine sacks and three tackles for a loss. He also had four fumble recoveries and an interception, as well as a defensive touchdown.

Gavin said his success after his change in position shows that he has versatility when it comes to playing defense.

“In my opinion, that’s what makes great players,” Hughes said. “So that and the toughness I had this season was not only big for showing schools what I can do, but also for my confidence in myself.”

Rome High senior offensive lineman Devin Floyd, who was a leading blocker for the Wolves this season, signed with Kennesaw State on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 270-pound tackle helped Rome to the Class 5A state semifinals for the third year in a row.

Floyd will commemorate his signing as part of Rome’s National Signing Day festivities in February.

Cedartown running back Tony Mathis Jr. also made his college choice official on Wednesday, signing to join the Mountaineers of West Virginia following graduation.