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PREP ATHLETES TO PUT PENS TO SCHOLARSHIP DOCUMENTS.



Byline: GERRY GITTELSON Community Sports

Forget about the first day of practice, opening night or even championship weekend at Home Depot The Home Depot (NYSE: HD) is an American retailer of home improvement and construction products and services.

Headquartered in Vinings, just outside Atlanta in unincorporated Cobb County, Georgia, Home Depot employs more than 355,000 people and operates 2,164 big-box
 Center last December. For a precious few elite high school football players, today is the most important day of the season.

It's national signing day National Signing Day is the first day a high school senior can sign a binding National Letter of Intent for college football. Although there are numerous signing periods for college sports, this is the one that is most followed. It always falls on the first Wednesday in February. , which means high school seniors officially accept Division I college scholarship offers, many fulfilling one of their biggest dreams.

Seven locals are scheduled to make their scholarships official this morning, five from Hart High and two from Canyon. For Hart, quarterback Sean Norton and receiver Kevin Ciccone are going to Fresno State, linebacker Dan Howell is going to Washington, linebacker Brian Elledge is going to San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850.
 State and offensive lineman Kevin Bell is going to Montana. For Canyon, quarterback Nate Longshore Nate Longshore (born June 30, 1986 in Canyon Country, California, U.S.) is an American football quarterback for the California Golden Bears. Longshore was an Elite-11 quarterback in high school and a 4-star recruit rated by Rivals.com and Scout.com."How Far ...  is going to California and linebacker Andrew Schantz is going to San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay.  State.

``In some ways I'm relaxed, and in some ways I'm kind of anxious about the whole thing,'' Howell said. ``But (today) is definitely a blessing.''

One thing is for sure: Nobody should call this group the Lucky Seven. Undoubtedly, all have natural football talent. But they've also put in the hard work, developed over the seasons and, perhaps most important, kept up their studies and met Division I academic requirements.

In fact, several have overcome significant adversity in their quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue

look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the
 full scholarships:

--Norton has earned his Fresno State deal despite being decidedly undersized undersized

see dwarfism, runt.
 at 5-foot-11 (listed at 6 feet). He also has recovered from several injuries, including a concussion, knee surgery and a torn rib ligament.

--Schantz has excelled despite three serious injuries, including a slow- healing broken foot that sidelined him for half his junior season.

--Longshore never played football until high school, developing from a raw, inconsistent sophomore into one of the nation's top quarterback prospects.

--Elledge and Ciccone sweated it out until the last moment before finally scoring offers over the past month. Elledge had scheduled official recruiting visits to Colorado State and Fresno State, but the visits were canceled at the last minute because the universities received commitments from other linebackers. Ciccone had nothing coming his way until Fresno State coach Pat Hill realized what a promising player he was even though Ciccone is just 5-11.

--Howell never got much chance to prove himself because he was constantly switching positions - from linebacker to defensive end to cornerback back to defensive end and finally back to linebacker - coupled with few opportunities at running back until this season because he was buried in the depth chart.

But the tribulations and anxiety are over for the seven today. By signing their scholarships - technically, financial aid documents -- they're scoring their biggest touchdowns ever.

``Obviously, there's been some big pressure about getting a scholarship and all that finally gets relieved because we're finally signing with a college,'' Elledge said. ``I think every single one of us deserves it, too, because we've all worked so hard.''

Today is also a proud moment for their parents. But perhaps it's also bittersweet bittersweet, name for two unrelated plants, belonging to different families, both fall-fruiting woody vines sometimes cultivated for their decorative scarlet berries. , as the realization begins to set in that their children will be leaving home.

``I'm really excited and thrilled for my son, partly because we know how unusual it is for a 5-11 quarterback to go to a DI school,'' said Norton's father, Scott. ``It's fortunate that we found the right school ... but I'm sure I'm going to miss him a lot. Sean has always been kind of a homebody home·bod·y  
n. pl. home·bod·ies
One whose interests center on the home.

Noun 1. homebody - a person who seldom goes anywhere; one not given to wandering or travel
stay-at-home
, and I don't think his mother and I have ever missed one of his games.''

Elledge had to wait longer than anyone, a perplexing per·plex  
tr.v. per·plexed, per·plex·ing, per·plex·es
1. To confuse or trouble with uncertainty or doubt. See Synonyms at puzzle.

2. To make confusedly intricate; complicate.
 development considering he's a 6-foot-3 honor student who twice has broken Hart's all-time single-season tackle record.

``I'm really excited and very happy for him. I think everything finally turned out for the best,'' said Elledge's mother, Jeni. ``San Jose is only about 4 1/2 hours away - but now Brian is going to have to learn to do his own laundry.''

Howell will travel a lot farther. He said he's very much embracing the opportunity to be out on his own.

``Going to Washington means I'm one step closer to independence,'' Howell said. ``It's time It's Time was a successful political campaign run by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) under Gough Whitlam at the 1972 election in Australia. Campaigning on the perceived need for change after 23 years of conservative (Liberal Party of Australia) government, Labor put forward a . I'm getting ready to roll up out of here.''

In high school, football is the most celebrated sport, so signees get the most attention. But some local seniors from other sports also will sign today, and their achievements are just as special.

At Canyon, girls' soccer players Christine Chapman Christine Chapman (born 7 April, 1956) is a Welsh Labour politician who has been a Member of the National Assembly for Wales for Cynon Valley since 1999. She has not held senior government posts and has been described as "one of the quietest women AMs" but one whose "effectiveness , Kearsten Leggett, McKenzie Hill and Jenna Shay shay  
n. Informal
A chaise.



[Back-formation from chaise (taken as pl. )]

Noun 1.
 are scheduled to sign today, as is swimmer Eric Cunningham Eric Gordon Cunningham (born April 14, 1949) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1975 to 1984, as a member of the Ontario Liberal Party. . Hart girls' soccer players Melissa Deckers and Amanda Reyes are signing today. And at Valencia, girls' soccer standout Katherine Kirst will sign with USC An abbreviation for U.S. Code. .

So this is a special and wonderful day for athletes, their parents, coaches and members of the school communities.

Live it up, folks. It doesn't get better than this.

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY

Today is the first day athletes can officially accept scholarships to play NCAA NCAA
abbr.
National Collegiate Athletic Association
 Division I sports. Here's a look at local athletes scheduled to sign today:

Name - School - Sport - College

Kevin Bell - Hart - Football - Montana

Christine Chapman - Canyon - Soccer - Southeastern Louisiana

Kevin Ciccone - Hart - Football - Fresno State

Eric Cunningham - Canyon - Swimming - Brigham Young

Melissa Deckers - Hart - Soccer - San Diego State

Brian Elledge - Hart - Football - San Jose State

McKenzie Hill - Canyon - Soccer - Pepperdine

Dan Howell - Hart - Football - Washington

Katherine Kirst - Valencia - Soccer - USC

Kearsten Leggett - Canyon - Soccer - Albany

Nate Longshore - Canyon - Football - California

Sean Norton - Hart - Football - Fresno State

Amanda Reyes - Hart - Soccer - Fresno State

Andrew Schantz - Canyon - Football - San Diego State

Jenna Shay - Canyon - Soccer - Pepperdine

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NATIONAL SIGNING DAY (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 4, 2004
Words:937
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