The Union Recorder

February 6, 2013

SIGNING DAY: Braves send defensive group to next level

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —  

Baldwin High School football had five players participate in National Signing Day Wednesday morning. All college-bound braves will see time on the defense side.

Derrick Washington, OL/DL: Presbyterian College

The versatile linemen graded out 85 percent off 26 pancake blocks this season. Washington chose PC for its great academic environment and a chance to make an immediate impact.

Baldwin offensive line coach Clayton McClendon said Washington’s hard work has paid off. His athleticism and footwork allowed Washington to excel on the offensive and defensive line.

BHS head coach Dexter Copeland said he is a tremendous interior lineman on both sides of the ball. 

Washington likes that the PC teachers already know him on a first name basis.

The Blue Hose lost some depth at defensive tackle, which bodes well for Washington’s freshman year. He plans to complete a dual degree through PC and Georgia Tech in physics and biochemical engineering.

Jaycarus Harper, DL: Louisburg College

He posted 43 tackles, 3 force fumbles and 4 sacks in 2012.

Harper is a tremendous athlete that has played defensive end, tackle and linebacker.

Copeland said the defensive player is still growing, having gained two inches of height and 20 pounds the last two years.

One of Baldwin’s most consistent defensive playmakers looks forward to spending more time with teammates at the college level.

He lists speed and strength as current areas to improve. Harper is confident the hard work can turn into freshmen playing time.

Kentarius Cooper, ML: Louisburg College

Cooper tallied 80 tackles, 4 forced fumbles and 2 INTs for the Braves. He overcame an ACL injury two years ago.

The undersized linebacker still led the team in tackles this fall. Copeland called Cooper the silent assassin.

The school atmosphere and the defensive coordinator brought Cooper to North Carolina. 

The fellow teammates coming with him helped also.

Working on agility and film study are focuses for Cooper’s college football start. 

He enjoyed the recruiting process. Baldwin coaches urged Cooper and others to stick it out and work hard.

Shemar Latimore, DT: Louisburg College

Latimore had 42 tackles with 12 for loss this season. Copeland expects more offers to roll in over the next 24 hours. The stout defensive tackle could end up elsewhere.

The big 300-pound tackle has great speed, which boosts his college career potential.

Latimore is looking forward to the Louisburg opportunity.

“I think it would be a good opportunity for me to get my education and start the next level,” Latimore said. “I couldn’t do it without God.”

Having several familiar faces up north is a huge plus. All four Braves could add two more years to their high school experiences.

He expects success for all the signees.

Jaitavius Jackson, DE: Louisburg College

Jackson’s stats included 53 tackles and a school record 19 sacks.

The record setter played sparingly on special teams his first two years due to injury. Jackson switched to defensive end this season and excelled.

The sack master looks forward to the two-year opportunity at Louisburg. Jackson can develop his immense potential at the junior college.

Academics are high on the student-athlete’s goals. 

He adjusted to defensive end quickly. Jackson will continue polishing technique learned over the last high school season.

“It was hard coming back from an injury trying to stay with the guys,” Jackson said. 

The defensive end wants to hit the books for a successful GPA. He will watch his diet and weight to be in peak form come this summer.