ASHS’ Donald McCook signs NLI with Middle College State University
Published 12:57 pm Saturday, April 30, 2016
By MICHAEL MURRAY
AMERICUS – The Americus-Sumter High School Panthers football program saw another team member sign a national letter of intent to take his gridiron skills to the next level on the morning of April 28.
Donald McCook, a 5’ 7”, 240-pound senior offensive lineman for the Panthers signed a scholarship agreement with Middle Georgia State University (MGSU) to join the school’s football team, the Knights, on the field during the 2016-17 season. The letter of intent was signed during a ceremony held on ASHS’ South campus.
Prior to the signing, ASHS head football coach, Erik Soliday, presented McCook with the Burlsworth Character Award, which is awarded to honor high school football players who exhibit outstanding character and sportsmanship qualities. According to the Burlsworth Foundation’s website, the award is reserved for players who give 100 percent on the field and stand as a moral example to their teammates.
Following brief statements from McCook’s parents, thanking the team’s coaching staff for all of their hard work, ASHS offensive line coach, Kentrell Mercer, addressed the audience. “This has been my second year working with Donald,” Mercer said. “From day one… watching him grow as a player and a student has been a pleasure. He’s a great kid and a great role model for the other kids. He is the definition of a student-athlete… He said, ‘I’m going to be better,’ and he became better. He took on every challenge as if it was his last day out there on the field.”
McCook has been playing for the Panthers all four years of his high school career. He began in the position of middle linebacker as a freshman and moved to the offensive line soon after recovering from an injury sustained on the field. Since then, McCook has been splitting time between the defensive line and the offensive line as he honed his gridiron skills in preparation for his upcoming college career. “I’m happy to be going to a college where I can still play football in a position that I have experience with,” he said.
During his junior and senior years at ASHS, McCook contributed to the Panthers on the wrestling mat and the baseball diamond as well.
McCook told the Times-Recorder that he is interested in studying criminal justice or education during his time at MGSU. Asked what he is looking forward to about his upcoming college career, McCook responded, “ I’m looking forward to doing my best out there and giving it all of the effort I can. I want to succeed there.”
Following the ceremony, Soliday spoke with the Times-Recorder. “It’s really special to see a young man like this that’s worked so hard and just plays with so much heart and passion get this opportunity to go on and not only play football, but continue his education,” he said. “I’m really excited for him. I think it’s a great opportunity for a great kid… I just love to see him get a chance to take it to the next level.”