Armuchee wide receiver Brayden Butler and Model running back Kidron Ford signed to play for the Shorter Hawks on National Signing Day, while Coosa running back Jalen Hodge decided on Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee.

While the proximity of Shorter was a draw for Butler, his visit to the school and its values are what sealed the deal for the receiver.

“It’s the best fit for me,” Butler said. “They run the same offense I’ve ran all through high school. The coaches are great guys — great Christian guys — it’s a great Christian facility and that plays a lot into it. I had a great time on the visit and their coach sold it to me. It’s a great situation and it’s close to home, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.”

Hodge helped carry the Eagles to the first round of the Class AA state playoffs in his senior season on the gridiron, but the academic aspect of college life is what drew him to Cumberland.

“This was a very important decision for me,” Hodge said. “It feels like a lot of stress has been lifted off my shoulders. I got a really great vibe from coach (Tim) Mathis. I can tell he’s definitely big on education and making me a better person, so that was a major thing for me in making my decision.”

Second-year Shorter head coach Zach Morrison said the duo of Butler and Ford will be fighting for a slot position on next year’s team, and he’s looking forward to seeing the rival players compete on the same squad.

“Kidron, if you look at what he’s done for Model, he’s a speed guy,” Morrison said. “We’re excited about what he brings to the team.”

Morrison has had more time to focus on this year’s class of signees as the current coaching lineup welcomes its first full recruiting class. Morrison was hired in January of last year and was thrown into the mix right away, but this group has the coach optimistic about getting the program turned around.

“It’s been great. Last year was quick,” Morrison said. “Getting hired in January then have three-and-a-half weeks was extremely tough. They understand we’re building and it’s a process. Being a part of that is what sold them — changing the culture of program. But if you look at the bodies and the numbers and what they’ve done in high school, they’re going to push for playing time.”

Sports Editor Jeremy Stewart contributed to this report.