KELLY MOATES became the 11th player in the last four years to sign a college football scholarship out of Jackson County, inking with LaGrange College Thursday.
Among other things, the Panther linebacker listed proximity to home as one of the deciding factors to sign with LaGrange. He also drew interest from Emory and Henry, Birmingham Southern and Suwanee.
“It wasn’t the first thing, because academics is first,” Moates said. “But it was one of the strong points. And their football program is new, and I feel like going to be elite in the next coming years.”
Coach Billy Kirk said Moates has plenty of promise at the next level.
“The kid is a young senior,” Kirk said. “He’s a great student. He’s a great athlete, and he’s got more upswing I think than anybody. I think at college, he’s going to be a fantastic addition to LaGrange.”
Kirk added that Moates “has a bigger bounce than anybody,” with his potential to put on weight and mature as a football player.
“But the best thing about him is that he’s a great kid,” Kirk said.
Moates said he doesn’t know much about the depth chart at linebacker at LaGrange yet but has been told by coaches that he fits in as an outside linebacker. He could shift to the inside if he adds weight, however.
Moates – who said playing college football was always a goal – switched from safety to linebacker mid-way through his career at Jackson County, a move that he calls one of the highlights of his time with the Panthers.
“I’m glad that they moved me to linebacker my junior year,” Moates said. “I don’t know why they did, but I appreciate it.”
Kirk said that he’s proud that 11 Panther players during his tenure have had the opportunity to play at the next level. The coach said he and his staff put a lot time into marketing Jackson County players – like Moates – for college programs.
“We got to all the recruiting fairs and we do all that stuff,” Kirk said. “And it’s not for me, it’s not for my game. That kid (Moates) deserves an opportunity and he’s going to get it.”