NASHVILLE -- Before he even plays a down of college football, Brad Wells made history. The Berrien senior signed a letter-of-intent with Shorter College on Friday, becoming a member of the school's first recruiting class. The NAIA school in Rome will debut on the field later this year as a member of the Mid-South Conference.

"That was a big deal for me," Wells said. "I'll be the first class going through and I like the thought of that."

Former Berrien coach Mike Hill, a high school assistant in Rome before coming to Nashville, made a phone call to the Hawks coaches and helped Wells put together a highlight tape. The Shorter staff liked the tape and invited Wells for an official visit Jan. 28. The visit impressed Wells enough to commit.

"Coach Hill had a lot of influence on Brad," Wells' father, Randy, said. "He brought out what we knew (Brad) had. He was able to make him play to his potential."

Wells realized that potential by becoming Region I-AA's co-defensive player of the year. During his senior year, the Rebels strong safety recorded 101 tackles and intercepted four passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Wells also caught three touchdowns on offense as a wide receiver and stood out on special teams by blocking six kicks.

"He's got a lot of attributes," Hill said. "But, the best one is he knows when to step up."

With Wells as one of the team's senior leaders, the Rebels won four games -- two less than their total from the previous three seasons -- and stayed in contention for the playoffs until the next-to-last game. Wells already knows one of his future teammates, incoming Berrien coach Ross New's son Jeremy, a West Alabama transfer.

The Hawks will have eight transfers, with the rest of the team comprised of incoming freshmen like Wells.

On Friday though, Wells had a chance to enjoy his success.

"(It's) just feeling like you've accomplished something," he said. "Feeling like all the work you've put into it is finally paying off.

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