Sports

Three Spencer players sign

Given the influx of talent inbound from Spencer High School, perhaps Albany State should consider changing its mascot from the Golden Rams to the Greenwaves.

Spencer football teammates Mark O’Neal, Derrick Walker and Cory Jacobs all signed national letters-of-intent with Albany State Wednesday afternoon, partly because they each grew up watching the Golden Rams play against Fort Valley State in the Fountain City Classic.

‘‘It’s going to be a nice experience to play in my hometown in front of my old teammates and old coaches down at my old home field,’’ said O’Neal, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder who will play outside linebacker for the Golden Rams.

Walker and Jacobs also said their decision were influenced in part by Albany State’s once-a-year presence at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium. Walker, a 6-foot, 190-pound defensive back, said he’s witnessed ‘‘eight or nine’’ Fountain City Classic games, while Jacobs, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound cornerback, has attended a handful over the years.

‘‘I’ve always wanted to play in that game since I was a little kid and now I have the chance,’’ Jacobs said.

The Spencer trio made a pact to sign with Albany State after taking their official visits to campus on the same weekend.

‘‘We had kind of made it as a group decision because we wanted to continue playing together,’’ Jacobs said.

And why shouldn’t they? The three players helped Spencer make monumental improvement this past season, from 1-9 to 5-5.

‘‘We’ve come a long, long way,’’ Spencer head coach Oliver Davis said.

On Wednesday, however, the emphasis was on where O’Neal, Walker and Jacobs will go together and what they could do afterward. Before the players posed for photos and joined classmates and family remembers for soda and cake in the school library, Spencer principal Reginald Griffin noted their academic efforts should serve as an inspiration for underclassmen who are aspiring college athletes.

‘‘This is big,’’ Griffin said. ‘‘It’s from hard work, it’s from dedicated coaches.’’

He also left the players with the following message: Don’t forget your alma mater.

‘‘When you get this big job in corporate America, remember one thing,’’ Griffin joked. ‘‘We can retire your jersey ... but it’s going to cost $50,000.’’

Walker didn’t balk at the dollar figure.

‘‘I plan on having it retired one day,’’ he said.

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