National signing day kicked off at LaGrange High with four Grangers finalizing their college plans, including two commitments who will play in the SEC and Big East.
Kicker Joseph Mansour signed with the University of Kentucky and quarterback Jamius Gunsby signed with the University of South Florida.
Lineman Johnderrius Lovett will attend Valdosta State in the Gulf South Conference, while wide receiver/defensive back Josh Manning is going to Southwest Mississippi Community College.
For Mansour the decision to become a Wildcat, he said, was an easy one.
“It just felt like home,” Mansour said.
With several former Grangers attending the university and having four visits under his belt, Mansour said Kentucky is the right place for him.
Steve Pardue, LaGrange’s coach, said Mansour felt comfortable with so many former players, not to mention the highly touted kicker is likely to see some action right away.
“He has an opportunity to play right now,” Pardue said.
Likewise, comfort was also a factor when it came to Gunsby’s decision to head to South Florida. He said the coaches there put him at ease, making him feel welcome. Gunsby said South Florida is where he needs to be.
“They made a decision and I needed to make mine,” he said. “Today my mind was made up. This is the right choice for me.”
Pardue said South Florida’s up-and-coming program provides a great opportunity for the highly recruited quarterback.
Lovett, who plays defensive and offensive line and was eyed by Eastern Kentucky and Valdosta State, was characterized by Pardue as a valuable defensive player. Pardue said Lovett will likely have an opportunity to play for national championship while at Valdosta.
Lovett said it was difficult to choose where to attend college, but now that his choose is official he’s excited and his family is behind him.
“I felt like it was kind of where I needed to be,” he said. “It’s a winning program.”
As for wide receiver and defensive back Manning, Pardue said it’s a good fit for him and that he might have the opportunity to move up to the SEC.
Manning said he felt Southwest Mississippi was right for him after seeing other Grangers attend and find success. While he hasn’t visited the campus, many talks with the coach sealed the deal for him.
Pardue, who has been at LaGrange for 19 years and served as the head coach for 16, was nostalgic.
“For the kids it’s an exciting day, for me it’s bitter sweet,” he said, “It’s amazing how fast four years go.”