The Standard Journal
♦ Talented Cedartown trio makes college choices official on National Signing Day
Signing Day was once again a time to celebrate for Cedartown High School this year as three of the football team’s most prolific players over the last four seasons secured their choice to play college football.
Class of 2023 members Eli Barrow, Harlem Diamond and Patrick Gardner each signed their National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, Feb. 1, during a ceremony in the school’s auditorium attended by their families, teammates and school faculty.
Barrow signed with the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Diamond signed with Reinhardt University in Waleska, and Gardner inked with Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi.
The three athletes proved to be major pieces in the Bulldogs’ success over the last three seasons under head coach Jamie Abrams, which includes three straight region championships and deep runs into the Class 4A state playoffs with last season culminating in a berth in the state championship game.
Barrow and Diamond each finished out their high school careers as Region 7-4A co-players of the year as well as Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Class 4A defensive and offensive players of the year, respectively. Gardner was named the 7-4A defensive lineman of the year. All three earned all-state honors.
Abrams spoke to those in attendance, thanking them for their support and their assistance in helping make the day a special one for the three signees.
“They know now how very difficult it is in 2023 to get an athletic scholarship. Between the COVID years and the transfer portal, this has been one of the most difficult times to get a scholarship to play college football,” Abrams said. “With that, I think the most important thing that you guys need to understand is that it’s about getting your degree. You need to use football because football is going to use you. Use it as a vehicle to do what you want to do in life.”
Barrow, a linebacker, averaged 12.4 tackles per game in 2022, including 15 sacks. He totaled 186 tackles, with 133 being solo tackles. He also scored two touchdowns on offense.
Diamond was a force on offense and defense for the Bulldogs, finishing his senior season with 1,271 yards rushing for 21 touchdowns and another eight touchdowns on 412 yards passing. He also had 67 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also had two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
As Cedartown’s bulldozing running back and defensive end, Gardner played havoc with opponents’ front lines. He had 151 carries for 1,012 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns last season, as well as 25 total tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks.
Abrams reminded the three signees to remember their roots and the people who have been there for them throughout their time in Cedartown for when they have to battle with adversity in the future.
He also told the younger football players to pay attention to what each of the three who signed had to do to achieve their goal of playing at the collegiate level.
“Understand that you have witnessed what it has taken for these guys to get here. So I want you to take note of how they performed in the weight room. How they performed on the practice field, game field and in the classroom. There’s a lot of work that goes into getting to this point,” Abrams said.
West Georgia and Mississippi College are both NCAA Division II programs who play in the Gulf South Conference. Reinhardt plays in the Appalachian Athletic Conference in the NAIA.