Four Baldwin High School student-athletes made their college destinations official when they signed their letters of intent Wednesday.
They will represent Braves Nation at their respective colleges and universities in four different sports. The latest local signees were Maya Adams to Clayton State University women’s track and field, Ashley Johnson to Central Georgia Technical College women’s cross country, Catherine Mullis to Life University women’s wrestling and Antonio Reaves to Georgia Military College football.
BHS Athletic Director Dexter Ricks shared a little bit about the whole group during Wednesday’s ceremony where each athlete also had his or her own time in the spotlight.
“These four student-athletes are examples of who you want to strive to be like because they’ve done it in the classroom and outside the classroom,” Ricks said.
Here’s a little bit more about the three young women and young man who put pen to paper this week.
Two years all it took for Adams
Usually when a high school student-athlete earns a college scholarship it’s due to what they show scouts in their junior and senior years. The exact opposite was true for Maya Adams, who will run track for Division II Clayton State in Morrow. After promising freshman and sophomore seasons, Adams’ junior campaign was cut short due to COVID and she pulled her hamstring early this spring, keeping her from competing in all but one meet as a senior. Still, the Clayton State coaches saw promise.
“It’s huge for her to be able to sit here and sign, go off to school and do what she loves to do based on two years of running, two years of hard work, two years of grinding, two years of dedication, two years of persistence and two years of knowing exactly what she wanted to do and what she wanted to be,” Baldwin High girls track coach Tiandra Harris said.
Though small in stature, Adams can really move. As a sophomore, she earned a spot on the podium at state in the 100-meter dash. She’ll look to get back to form when she takes to the track as a Clayton State Laker.
“When I went to visit the school, it just seemed like family like it was here at Baldwin. I really liked that,” Adams said on why she chose CSU.
Adams plans on majoring in nursing.
Johnson has a four-year plan
When many athletes begin college at a two-year school, often their approach is to wait and see what offers are there once their junior college eligibility is up. That’s not the case for distance runner Ashley Johnson, who will attend Central Georgia Technical College in Macon. She already knows she wants to transfer to Savannah State University after her two years at CGTC are completed.
Johnson has been a fixture on Baldwin’s girls cross country and track teams all throughout high school. Ricks coached her those first three years out on the cross country course.
“She knows what she’s supposed to do, and does it every single time,” Ricks said Wednesday. “Everybody has bad days, but I’ve never seen her have a bad day.”
Johnson will take that work ethic over to Macon where she’ll run for the Titans. She said the COVID-19 pandemic made her question whether or not she was going to get an opportunity to run in college, but thankfully CGTC came calling.
“It’s closer to home and it’s a smaller school,” Johnson said. “I wanted to start small before I went big. I feel like it will be a great fit for me socially as well.”
The cross country runner has already set a next-level goal for herself. She said the CGTC women’s 5K record is over 21 minutes, and she plans on breaking that mark before her two years are up.
Johnson will major in early childhood education.
Life U. is next step for Mullis
Wrestler Catherine Mullis has been a part of something big these last four years. She’s gone from often being the only female wrestler at matches to seeing the GHSA establish a state tournament specifically for girls in 2019. After a couple of close calls at state her two previous years, Mullis made the most of her senior season by winning state in the 132-pound weight class as she mostly barreled over the competition out on the mat. That accolade and several more earned her the opportunity to wrestle for Life University’s NAIA women’s wrestling program.
“I’m super excited to be going to Life University,” Mullis said. “It was my dream school. I’ve wanted to go there ever since I found out about them.”
Mullis’ background was in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai kickboxing when her father got her into wrestling as a middle schooler. She started practicing with the high school and began growing exponentially to the point where her almost-all male teammates looked to her as a captain.
“She’s a wrestler. It didn’t matter if she was a girl, she’s a wrestler,” Baldwin head wrestling coach Andrew Lindsay said.
Mullis battled her way to the career 100-win club her senior year and in February became just the school’s second state wrestling champ in history. That first state title came about 40 years ago. She’ll take her talents about two hours north to Life University in Marietta where the women’s wrestling team finished second in nationals this year.
“Their women’s team is incredibly well-developed,” Mullis added. “I think they will push me to do what I need to do.”
Reaves gets his shot at GMC
One of the more decorated 2020 high school football players in the state has earned a shot to prove himself at Georgia Military College. Outside linebacker Antonio Reaves will don the junior college Bulldogs’ red and black in the fall and see if he can eventually punch his ticket to a four-year program.
“It means a lot to be able to put on for my city Milledgeville,” Reaves said. “I love this city and I'm thankful for the opportunity over at GMC.”
Jesse Hicks, Reaves’ head coach at Baldwin, read off the list of his player’s impressive on-field accomplishments this past season. Reaves was named the GHSA Region 4-4A Defensive Player of the Year as well as BHS Defensive MVP and was selected to The Union-Recorder All-County First Team Defense, All-Middle Georgia First Team and also received AJC All-State honorable mention. Here’s how he earned all those accolades. In just seven games played in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Reaves accumulated 86 total tackles, 20 tackles for loss, eight sacks and one interception.
A torn ligament in his shoulder forced him to miss most of his junior year, so he had only a short time to make an impact, especially once his final season was shortened to a region-only schedule plus the playoffs.
“I knew then that it was full-on every game,” Reaves said.
Reaves will take that mentality over to GMC where he will suit up for first-year head coach Rob Manchester and defensive coordinator Taylor Burks.