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2016 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Bailey's flip adds drama to Lambert ceremony
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Lambert offensive lineman Sean Bailey picks up an East Carolina hat Wednesday during the Longhorns’ National Signing Day ceremony. Bailey had been committed to Cincinnati before a late offer from the Pirates swayed his decision. - photo by Photos by Lizzie Martinez and Allie Rawlings

Lambert’s Sean Bailey has been a highly touted recruit for his entire playing career at Lambert. His 6-foot-6, 335-pound frame and natural leadership skills turned the heads of many FBS coaches. For a majority of his senior season, Bailey locked his eyes onto the University of Cincinatti, but sitting at signing day on Wednesday at Lambert High School were three hats and a life-changing decision to make.

Joining him on this life-changing day were 10 other Lambert athletes. Bailey and four teammates signed their national letters of intent. Tanner Hall, a standout basketball and football player, signed with Georgia Southern. Sam Fleming signed with Samford University, and Cliff Snyder signed with Mercer University as a preferred walk-on.

That left just two athletes, Bailey and long-snapper Anthony Ratliff.

Bailey’s three hats belonged to Purdue University, the University of Cincinatti, and East Carolina University. He reached down and grabbed the East Carolina University cap and inked his commitment to a school that weeks before was not even in the crosshairs of the left tackle. A late recruiting pitch by ECU pushed Bailey to take an official visit to the campus.

The beautiful campus played a role in his choice to flip, but it was not the biggest factor.

“They [East Carolina] want me to play left tackle and Cincinnati wanted me to play right guard. Obviously left tackle is the big position on the offensive line,” Bailey said, “I can probably play as a redshirt freshman or true freshman, so that’s pretty awesome.”

Signing along with him was fellow offensive line stand out, Anthony Ratliff. Just five hours after Bailey committed to play at East Carolina, Ratliff received an offer from the school.

“I have worked very hard over the last four years to get where I am,” Ratliff said, “and I plan to work even harder at the next level.”

Lambert’s head football coach Louis Daniel was thrilled with the progress his program displayed. It is a program that started slow, but is becoming a home for collegiate talent. Lambert signed three football players last year, five on Wednesday and could have as many as five players sign next year.

“It’s a big step in the right direction,” Daniels said, “It means a lot to me as a coach, as a teacher, and as a parent.”

Lambert’s girls’ soccer team made a run to the state championship last season, and they saw the rewards blossom when three of their athletes signed. Broke Endres signed with Georgia College, Keely Cartrett signed with Alabama and Maggi Hanusek signed with Appalachian State.

Lambert also had Jake Tomelevage (Young Harris College) sign for baseball, Emilia Rittenbach (Savannah College of Art and Design) sign for swimming, and Jack Flikeid (Piedmont College) sign for tennis.