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Stephanie Pedersen: A 'proud mama' on signing day

National signing day is one of my favorite days of the year.

It's not because my team usually pulls one of the top-ranked classes in the country, or because I enjoy the drama of it all.

I actually hate that part. I feel the same way about the drama as Central wide receiver Jamal Couch did on Wednesday.

"I am just ready to get it over with," he told a reporter.

One of my favorite parts is the wardrobe.

Seeing the young men dressed in their Sunday best makes me feel like a proud mama.

The bow ties, vests, ties, full suits, fresh-groomed faces and heads give me hope they've made the right decisions and will take advantage of the opportunities they've worked so hard for the last few years.

Seventy-two student-athletes in our area signed a piece of paper to confirm where they'll attend college. Sixty of them were high school football players.

Our area should feel proud of the caliber of student-athletes we continuously produce every year. It equals millions of dollars in scholarships.

But like most positive events, there always are a few sour apples.

The Ledger-Enquirer posted a live video on our Facebook page of Central's signing day ceremony. One of the first comments was "I'm going to watch paint dry."

Thankfully that was the only negative comment on the thread.

Most people replied with "Congratulations you guys" or "Play hard." Some commented on our posts, urging the kids to keep their heads down and work hard.

"Hopefully they all make it and don't end up dead or in jail."

And then there's that.

What the reader likely was referring to was what happened earlier this week when former Carver and University of Georgia football player Quintavius Harrow pleaded guilty to robbery and received a reduced sentence.

Former teammate Isaiah Crowell spoke about second chances and standing by Harrow even when times got tough. Crowell fully knows what a second chance can do for someone who works hard. He'll tell you he made some wrong decisions at UGA. He just finished his second NFL season with the Cleveland Browns.

That should be a warning for every kid who signed Wednesday.

Not all of them will make it in athletics.

But all of them can make it in academics.

"This is really not about where you go," said Central outside linebacker Walter Pritchett, who signed with Troy. "It is about going somewhere and getting your education paid for."

And getting your education paid for is something every mama, daddy and grandparent hopes for their children.

Take it from someone who will be paying student loans for years to come, don't mess that up.

That's why national signing day is special. It's a day of hope and a day of accomplishments.

And a day to show off just how great you look in your new bow tie.

Stephanie Pedersen, senior editor, spedersen@ledger-enquirer.com.

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