The Fannin County High School Rebels have produced two more college recruits: Tyler Jones and Jack Roper.
Both athletes signed letters of commitment to Reinhardt University in Waleska yesterday, during a ceremony at Fannin County High School. They will play college football for the Eagles, which play in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Mid-South conference, this fall.
The teammates both chose Reinhardt for the same reason: its proximity to their family.
“I never thought I’d be in this position, so it feels good. It’s insane,” Jones said after the signing.
A Fannin County native, Jones has played football since his park and recreation days. After venturing through the middle school level, he reached the high school Rebels. Still, it took some time for Jones to decide if football was something he wanted to do beyond high school.
“Honestly, I never really liked football,” Jones admitted. “I didn’t start getting serious until my junior year and that’s when I started getting better. Now, I live for football.”
Jones was looked at by such schools as the University of West Georgia and Valdosta State University, but picked Reinhardt with family in mind.
“It’s close to home, with it being 45 minutes away and I’m able to come home and see my mom,” Jones pointed out.
Jones also gave thanks to a few people who had helped shape him into a now-college athlete.
“I’d definitely like to thank my parents. Without them, I wouldn’t be in this position. Also, Coach Kyle (Davis), my position coach.” Jones said.
“It’s exciting. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to doing, since I was a little boy playing rec football,” Roper said. “It’s always been a dream for me to play college football and participate in college sports, so it’s really exciting for me, for sure.”
Also a Fannin County native, Roper played his way through the park and rec and middle school system on his journey to Fannin County High School. But still, the road was filled with adversity.
“I started playing football when I was seven,” Roper explained. “I played all through middle school, but then I tore my ACL my freshman year. I didn’t get to play my sophomore year, but then I was able to play my junior and senior years and thanks to good teammates and coaches, I had two good seasons.”
Offers came to Roper from Bethel University and the University of Virginia, but he picked Reinhardt so that he could play college football within a reasonable driving distance for his parents.
“I wanted to be as close to home as I could, in case anything happened,” said Roper. “I wanted my family to be able to come watch me play and they enjoy it as well. My family is the biggest thing. Plus, my friends and those in the community that might want the opportunity to come watch me play at the next level. Reinhardt is a good school, academically and I also enjoyed meeting their coaching staff. They’re great.”
Roper also wanted to give credit where it was due, in regards to his success on the gridiron.
“Coach (James) Pavao, for coming to Fannin County and turning this whole program around,” Roper said. “He really transformed it into something special. Coach Kyle (Davis) for the weight training and conditioning and always pushing me to get where I am as an athlete. The entire coaching staff, my parents and of course, God.”
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