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PREP FOOTBALL: Trio of Newton County student-athletes sign NLIs
Signing Day
Three Newton County football players signed their National Letters of Intent to play at the next level on the first day of the Early Signing Period. Eastside's Devin Brown (left) signed with Murray State, Newton's Nyland Green (middle) signed with Georgia and Newton's Darius Green (right) signed with Minnesota. - Mason Wittner | The Covington News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Three Newton County student-athletes put their pens to paper Wednesday as the Early Signing Period officially opened for the Class of 2021.

Fresh off a trip to the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals, the Eastside football team had one representative Wednesday morning. At 9:30 a.m., senior Devin Brown signed his National Letter of Intent to play college football at Murray State University in Murray, Ky.

During his time with the Eagles, Brown plugged holes at positions across the field in all three phases of the game. Eastside head coach Troy Hoff commended his senior for his willingness to adapt to change and his selfless attitude — both on and off the field. 

“I couldn’t be more proud of him, his opportunity and how he’s represented our school and his family,” Hoff said of Brown. “Today’s a big day and I’m excited for him. I can’t wait to see what he’s got going for him in the future. I know Murray State’s getting a good one.”

Brown addressed those in attendance prior to his signing, thanking God and his family for getting him to this point.

“Through the hard times, my family believed in me,” Brown said. “I just want to thank God blessing me with the ability and opportunity to play football. I pay He will continue to lead me into His hands.”

A few minutes past 10 a.m., Newton senior Nyland Green officially became a Bulldog when he signed his NLI to play for the University of Georgia.

Nyland was another football player who seemed to succeed at any position he was placed at on the field. 

During his senior season, he reeled in 25 receptions for 457 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver. He also locked down opposing targets as a defensive back, recording 47 tackles, five tackles for loss and five interceptions — one of which was returned for a touchdown. To top it all off, he was a dangerous threat in the return game, housing a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the year.

“Nyland is blessed, man,” Newton head coach Camiel Grant Jr. said. “He’s a tremendous athlete.”

Nyland Green’s athleticism jumps out on tape, but those who know him best believe his greatest asset could be his personality.

“That smile you see on his face, that’s on his face all the time,” Grant said. “He knows it’s a game. He’s enjoying being out there, enjoying making plays, enjoying the whole atmosphere of being around his teammates. His ability to go out and have fun, I think, is what’s going to separate him from a lot of guys at the next level.”

Nyland shared Wednesday’s spotlight with teammate Darius Green, who signed his NLI to play for the University of Minnesota.

Darius is a hard-hitting defensive back who’s closing speed and raw strength made him a lethal weapon in the Rams’ loaded defense. While his coaches recognize and praise his physical abilities, the cerebral aspect of his play that has proven to be most impressive.

“I think what gets overlooked most is his IQ,” Grant said of Darius. “You see him out there and he’s flying around, striking people. But he’s rarely out of position. A lot of those big hits come because he studied the tape and he knows what to expect.”

Before heading off to Big 10 country, Darius Green spoke about how the culture at Minnesota attracted him to come play.

“They’re different,” he said. “Coach [P.J.] Fleck’s doing great things up there, and they’re going to keep on doing them, so I felt like I should be a part of that program.”

The Early Signing Period for Division I football scholarships is Dec. 16-18. The Regular Signing Period will open with National Signing Day on Feb. 3, 2021.