COVINGTON, Ga. — When it comes to the high school football recruiting game, you’ve got some student-athletes, media and even coaches who highly prioritize — and maybe almost idolize — the National Signing Day experience.
And then you have Remy Lewis Naza, Jr.
Naza had the offers he needed to pull the trigger on a college selection on the first Wednesday in February, just like many of his football-playing peers across the state and nation.
Yet, while others — including several of his Newton Rams teammates — were basking in the signing day glow, Naza sat on his college offers and waited.
Wingate, Jacksonville University, Millsaps College, Huntingdon, West Georgia and others. They all came calling, but Naza was determined to play the game at his speed, not anyone else’s.
Finally on Wednesday afternoon in a small signing ceremony in Newton’s media center, Naza put pen to paper and inked his letter of intent to West Georgia, completely unbothered by doing it almost three months after all the Signing Day pomp and circumstance.
He said he was relieved to achieve the perfect college fit for himself and his family, even keeping in mind the future aspirations of Leroy, Remy’s younger brother and also a member of the Rams’ football team.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere and regret where I picked, because it would put me and my family in too much debt,” Naza said. “I have to keep in mind I’ve got a brother behind me, and I don’t want to put my parents in debt, because I know they still have to pay for my brother’s college.
“Those are the things you keep in mind when you make decisions like that.”
Indeed, Naza spoke about his college choice with the confidence and intellectual depth of one who spent time critically thinking about his selection — as one who pined over the academic ramifications of it just as throughly as the football part.
What else would you expect from a biology major with post-football aspirations that include medical school or physical therapy school?
“He’s got a 3.7 core GPA. Twenty-six ACT score, all while taking AP classes” said Newton football coach Terrance Banks when asked about Naza’s a college-readiness. “Student-athlete,” he added, emphasizing the word ‘student.’
Banks also said it’s not just a nice sounding cliche to be more proud of what Naza has done in the classroom than what the 6-foot-3, 275-pound offensive lineman has accomplished on the field.
“That’s what we say is our number one goal, to graduate all our boys,” Banks said. “The football is second. I mean, we want to win the football part, but our No. 1 objective is to graduate our boys.”
But the football part was pretty important as well for Naza, an All-Region 8-AAAAAAA performer and an All-TCN first-team selection. He said he first started to fall in love with West Georgia two summers ago on a campus visit. But he’s also been paying attention to the success of guys like Desmond Harrison, a former West Georgia left tackle who’s projected as a third or fourth round draft pick.
There’s also Dylan Donahue and Alex Armah, a linebacker and fullback from West Georgia. Both were selected in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft to the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers respectively.
In fact, out of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Georgia Southern, only West Georgia had the distinction of being a Georgia school with more than one player selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
“That was a big factor,” Naza said. “Their offensive line did pretty well. When I looked, they had a center who won awards and that left tackle who’s going to the league. That’s one of the dreams I hope to pursue. If (getting to the NFL) presents itself, I know West Georgia will help me get that opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Banks happily lauds Naza’s choice to take the scenic route for his own personal signing day, saying that it sets an example for other Newton players coming behind him.
“I’m extremely proud of that,” Banks said. “We preach to all of them that you don’t get a prize because you were the first one up there on the first Wednesday in February. Yeah, you get your picture and name in the paper. But that lasts for two days tops. (Naza) truly waited, and for a young man at 17, 18 years old to understand the 40-year vision of life, that’s tremendous.
“That’s the goal of being a Newton boy. Leave your legacy, and Remy’s was left.”