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AJA seniors sign with Brevard

Andrew Jackson Academy senior football players Jordan Lee and Bailey Ackerman capped off back-to-back-to-back state championship seasons by signing national letters of intent on Wednesday's National Signing Day to play football at Brevard College in Brevard, N.C. beginning this fall.

EHRHARDT -- Three straight SCISA 8-man football state championships was great, and finishing their high school playing days as part of an active 37-game win streak that leads the Palmetto State was nice too.

But Andrew Jackson Academy's Jordan Lee and Bailey Ackerman just couldn't let the football fun end in Ehrhardt.

On Wednesday, during National Signing Day, the only two seniors on the 11-0 Confederates team that won a third consecutive state title in November signed national letters of intent to join the Brevard College Tornados football program this fall.

Lee was set on joining the BC program for a while now, but Ackerman was still considering an offer from the new coaching staff at Limestone College in Gaffney as late as this week. 

"All along, the last few months, I've been telling Bailey that wherever he goes, he will do well," Lee said. "But, on the side, I kept reminding him that if he joined me at Brevard, we would play together and could both be starters at some point in our freshman or sophomore years.

"But I also like the fact that it is an academic school that fits the environment we are used to, with it being a smaller school."

Lee is slated to play defensive end for defensive coordinator Kurt Gouveia, who was a member of the 1984 national title team at Brigham Young.

"I've never lost a varsity football game, and I don't really plan on starting that once I get to college," Lee said. "Hopefully we can put it all together soon once we get there so we can win."

Ackerman is slated to be a fullback/tailback for assistant head coach/running backs coach Eric Gallon, a former tailback for the New England Patriots.

"It was a hard decision for me, because I liked Limestone a lot too," Ackerman said. "But Jordan going to Brevard made me want to go there too.

"It's a couple hours' drive away from home. So it's not that bad and family can come see us play."

Lee and Ackerman were team leaders after the back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016, before Willie Craven took the job as head football coach for the 2017 season.

"They had the experience with this team and both of them played a major part in getting the other guys to adjust to what we were doing," Craven said on Wednesday. "Those two were leaders and made the adjustment to a new coaching staff and new style so much easier.

"They weren't only great football players, but they were great leaders for the younger guys. There are kids on the 8-man level who deserve the chance to play on the college level. There are some great athletes on this level. They (Lee and Ackerman) adjusted to a change in their senior year, now they will adjust to the college game. They've got the techniques, the heart and the desire to do great things on the field, while they get their education."

In the 2017 season, AJA football was losing during five of the 11 games, but with grit and determination made the plays to rebound for a win in the end. That scenario included the state championship game against Jefferson Davis Academy, when Ackerman scored one of his team's two touchdowns in the final two minutes of play. Lee then had a quarterback hurry on the final series to deny a JDA comeback.

Now the hard-hitting defensive end and the punishing fullback who challenged each other through their high school days, and became good friends along the way, will continue to challenge and push each other to be their best on the college level.

The major adjustments should only be wearing blue uniforms instead of black, having a few extra players on the field at all times, and calling North Carolina home for a while.

"Go Tornados," Lee said. "Hopefully we will make a name for ourselves and for Andrew Jackson Academy."

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