The Valdosta Daily Times
Seven Lowndes football players committed to play college football during a National Signing Day ceremony at Lowndes High School Wednesday afternoon.
Of the seven, only one, safety and return specialist Tiquan Lang, signed with a Division I program. The other six players all signed with Division II programs, including three to Valdosta State.
“It feels great. That means there is a tradition here,” said Sam Washington, who signed with Fort Valley State. “If you come to Lowndes, work hard, you are going to go somewhere.”
Following Lang’s announcement that he would attend Marshall this fall, joining two former Valdosta Wildcats that are already members of the Thundering Herd football team, running back Nick Burgman committed to Valdosta State.
Burgman was joined by cornerback Kenny Moore and quarterback Alex Stephenson as VSU signees.
Soon after, Washington and offensive lineman Anfernee Chandler both committed to Fort Valley State, and Chandler Sumlin committed to Miles College in Alabama.
The seven signees were joined by Megan Charbeneau, a member of the Lowndes girls’ cross country and track team. Charbeneau signed a national letter of intent to run at the University of Georgia.
Lang’s commitment to Marshall came less than two months after he de-committed from South Alabama, a school he gave his verbal commitment to over the summer.
“I had to look into it more,” Lang said. “I had committed early and so I wanted the chance to go visit places and look for more opportunities. The coaches left, too. The cornerback coach and the (defensive) coordinator left. So that gave me another reason to de-commit and choose another school.”
At Marshall, Lang will serve as a safety and a kick returner, two positions he excelled at during his time with the Vikings. In 2012, Lang finished fourth on the team in tackles with 32 and recorded a team-high four interceptions, despite missing the final two games of the regular season with a sprained ankle.
An All-State kick returner this season, Lang averaged 36.6 yards per return and he recorded a season-long 99-yard kickoff return against Coffee, one of his two touchdowns.
“I’ll be a safety, a punt returner, a kick returner and a special teams player, too,” Lang said.
Of the three players from Lowndes to sign with Valdosta State, Burgman enters with the most hype and expectations. After leading Lowndes with 853 yards rushing and nine touchdowns and in receiving with 10 catches for 188 yards with two scores, Burgman was thought by many to be a Division I prospect.
In the end, though, Burgman opted to join the hometown Blazers and help them attempt to win a second straight national championship, making his final decision the morning of national signing day.
“I just felt like VSU was home,” Burgman said. “I’m real familiar with the coaches and I see that Coach (David) Dean, the head coach, really likes me....I feel like since they won the national championship, I feel like I want to be a part of that.”
Burgman will be joined at Valdosta State by cornerback by Moore, who played football for the Vikings for just one season. With the limited experience on the field in high school, Moore said he will begin his training for college football immediately following the conclusion of the high school basketball season.
“I’m going to have to learn the program very fast,” Moore said. “Right after basketball season, I’m going to start training, trying to get bigger and better.”
Stephenson, a one-year member of the Vikings after transferring over from crosstown rival Valdosta, will join the Blazers. Stephenson completed 27 of 47 passes for 482 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions in 2012. Now, he joins a bevy of quarterbacks at Valdosta State, which includes All-Region selectee Cayden Cochran and redshirt freshman Kaleb Nobles.
“I’m just going to go there my first year and work hard,” said Stephenson, who chose VSU over LaGrange and Methodist (N.C.). “Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to go out there my sophomore year and try to compete for a job.”
Washington, a defensive end that recorded a team-high five sacks in 2012 for the Vikings, will join teammate Anfernee Chandler at Fort Valley State.
“It felt like home and I feel like I can really fit in and I can get some playing time,” Washington said.
Added Chandler, when talking about Fort Valley State: “It is just excited,” Chandler said. “I am just excited about playing football. I chose Fort Valley because it felt like home. It has a family environment. I am ready.”
With Washington and Chandler signing at Fort Valley State, the duo will face the three VSU signees in the season opener this season; the Blazers will visit the Wildcats Sept. 7.
“It feels good. I feel like I’m at home,” Washington said. “Nick and Kenny are going to be up there, so it feels nice....It feels good knowing all my brothers went somewhere and that I’ll be playing with them again.”
The final commitment of the day came from Chandler Sumlin, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound lineman that committed to Miles College in Alabama.
For right now, Sumlin admitted he doesn’t have plans to fax his letter of intent directly to Miles, saying he was going to wait some time and possibly join Washington and Chandler at Fort Valley State.
“I was thinking of going to Fort Valley and I am still thinking of going there,” Sumlin said. “I am going to take my ACT this Saturday and see what happens.”
A complete story on Charbeneau’s signing with UGA cross country and track will be available in Friday’s edition of The Valdosta Daily Times.