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PREP FOOTBALL: Five Rams ink NLIs on National Signing Day
Newton Football
Newton celebrated five football players who signed their National Letters of Intent to play at the next level on Wednesday in honor of National Signing Day. The five seniors helped lead the Rams to their ninth consecutive playoff appearance in 2020. - Mason Wittner | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — In honor of National Signing Day, Newton held a ceremony Wednesday morning for five football players who signed their National Letters of Intent to compete at the next level.

Groupings proved to be the theme of the day. First, seniors Malachi Arnett, Keyshawn Blackstock and Quincy Cullins penned their respective NLIs to extend their academic and athletic careers at Coffeyville Community College. Eugene Tavarres and Nijay Willis followed suit, committing to remain teammates by signing with Independence Community College.

With Ram reunions in place for both programs next fall, Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. spoke on the importance of kids teaming up at the next level.

“Whether you’re an athlete or not, going off to college is stressful. It’s exciting, but it can be a stressful time as well,” Grant said. “So if you can have somebody there that you’re familiar with, to kind of help ease that transition, I think it's always huge to have a little bit of familiarity with you when you get to that next spot.”

The quintet of signees joined fellow Newton standouts Nyland Green (Georgia) and Darius Green (Minnesota), both of whom penned their NLIs during the Early Signing Period in December.

“They’re doing a great job of carrying on the legacy,” Grant said of the 2021 signing class. “I’m just excited that these guys get an opportunity to — even in this COVID-19 situation — have a day where they can celebrate.”

While National Signing Day kicks off the signing period in ceremonious fashion, the period will remain open though Aug. 1. Grant noted that more NLI signings could be coming down the pike before the 2021 signing period draws to a close.

“We’re not finished,” he said, grinning. “We’ve got some other guys that are still making some decisions, so we’ve got three or four more coming in the next couple of weeks.”