The reference was intentional, but Evans High's Brandon Ketchup still paused briefly while deciding if he should choose different words.
"I'm going to say 'We,' because I'm a Blazer now," Ketchup said of his decision to play football at Valdosta State. "We played Augusta State, and I've never seen a basketball crowd get so hyped in my life."
Ketchup was referencing his official visit, when the Blazers basketball team played host to then-No.-1-ranked Augusta State. Valdosta State won the game and won over Ketchup.
"As soon as they cut off the lights and started using the light show, I knew, 'Augusta's got a ride coming for them,'" Ketchup said.
The Jan. 16 visit was the only one for the 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman. He was encouraged by compliments he received from Blazers coaches and also for their honesty in telling him what he would need to work on.
Ketchup earned raves from Evans coaches for his speed. Knights defensive line coach Ryan Bennett, who also coaches Evans track, said Ketchup had run alongside those who came out for the track team. With a 4.9-second 40-yard dash time, Bennett said Ketchup could chase down nearly any running back with his lateral speed.
That included catching sprinters Jonathan Finch and Jamerson Turner during practice.
"With a kid with that much natural ability, you don't have to work with them too much," Bennett said. "You tell him what to do, he does it the first time out."
Ketchup said Valdosta was his only serious offer, but that he had also considered Tusculum.
Tusculum did snatch a bevy of area players, including Greenbrier offensive lineman Trevor Jones.
Jones signed his letter of intent Wednesday to play for the school. He sent Pioneers coaches his highlight film, and they later evaluated a full game before inviting Jones to campus to participate in a combine on Jan. 18.
"I did real good, got some of my best times," Jones said. "The coach told me I had a chance to come up there and make a difference on the line."
Jones said he expects to play either guard position after playing predominantly right tackle while at Greenbrier. He said he had prepared himself to play anywhere on the line, even practicing snapping the ball during Greenbrier's off-seasons.
Playing in tough Region 2-AAAAA the past two seasons might have prepared Jones well for what he will face at Tusculum. Jones said he learned on signing day that almost 30 had signed from region foe Stephenson High. The Union Grove defensive end Jones battled for two seasons signed with Georgia Tech.
"I just want to get up there, do good and show people you don't have to be a behemoth, you don't got to go to a big university just to be a good offensive lineman," Jones said. "I just want to do good for the community and be a leader for Greenbrier."
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