The timeline for each of South Forsyth’s six senior athletes who signed scholarships Wednesday varied.
Elena Zang knew as a sophomore she wanted to play soccer at Alabama.
Griffin Landrum decided just a few weeks ago he’d play football at the Air Force Academy.
Regardless, their recruiting journeys all ended on National Signing Day, where their verbal commitments became binding in front of a crowded room at South’s Performing Arts Center.
“Honestly, it’s surreal,” Zang said. “I’ve seen it happen to other people, but I’ve never really experienced what it feels like. I was nervous at first, but then just overwhelmed with joy.”
“It’s a lot of years of hard work paying off,” Landrum said.
Indeed, the hard work paid off for Landrum, Zang, girls’ soccer players Hannah Goudy (Georgia) and Abby Nearing (Georgia College and State University), football player Dante Arnold (Guilford College) and girls’ basketball player Shelby Threlkeld (Coast Guard Academy).
They each came to this moment in their own ways.
For Zang, it started the summer before her sophomore year when she committed to the Crimson Tide.
And then she had to wait. Through whatever college athletics can offer – coaching changes, etc. – Zang remained firm in her commitment to Alabama.
“I was just anxious for the time,” Zang said. “I just knew I had to keep working hard and not slack off. Just to finally have this opportunity is really amazing.”
Goudy had begun the recruiting process as a sophomore, too. Then, the goalkeeper was focused on smaller Division I schools until her junior season.
Gradually, a flurry of ACC and SEC schools contacted her, and she was thrust into the high-stakes world of college recruiting.
“It’s been so crazy,” Goudy said. “The recruiting process is stressful. To finally get it over with and be signed, it’s a great feeling.”
Goudy embraced the day. She ordered her older brother, Dylan, a former South soccer player who attends Georgia Tech, to leave his Yellow Jackets apparel home.
That, according to the laws of siblings, was merely an invitation.
“Luckily he brought a red shirt so he could change,” Goudy said.
Landrum was first offered by Air Force in the spring of his junior year. He remained uncommitted through this past summer and fall, when he led South’s offensive line that paved the way for running back Tyler LaFlamme’s breakout season and trip to the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
He finally committed Jan. 20, a few days after he and Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun were on the same plane headed back to Atlanta from Colorado Springs, Colo.
“My grandpa said if I’m going to join the Air Force I’ve got to go all out and be a general,” Landrum said.
Like the other athletes Wednesday, Landrum endured the deluge of photos with coaches and family and friends.
For the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder, it was a small price to pay.
“I’m not a fan of pictures,” Landrum said. “I didn’t get much sleep last night either. But it’s awesome. A lot of people told me how great this is. This is crazy.”