Class A football state runner-up Fairview turned National Signing Day into a festive occasion, complete with music from the school band inside George Cooke Memorial Gymnasium.
Four seniors who played key roles in the Eagles’ record-breaking season declared their college football intentions Wednesday.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Devon Turner, who signed with Georgetown College. “It’s definitely a blessing. I’m just glad to be part of it, try to do something positive with my future.”
Turner was seated alongside Fairview teammates Elijah King, Mason Rutherford and Chris Brewer at a table for the special event. The four All-Area selections led the Eagles to 14 consecutive wins before a loss to Mayfield.
“That’s why we went to the state title game,” head coach Nathan McPeek said. “When you have talented players, you have a chance to do successful things.”
McPeek called the afternoon celebration a “cool program.”
“It helps build your football program when you do something like this,” he said. “We’re extremely excited for these young men, their families and our program.”
Rutherford, the Eagles’ top receiver, signed with Morehead State University.
King and Brewer are both looking forward to making the transition to Eastern Kentucky University. King is a preferred walk-on, while McPeek said Brewer has been invited to come in the first day of classes as a potential walk-on.
“All four are good athletes, with good heads on their shoulders,” McPeek said. “They bring different attributes. They just have to continue working hard.”
The foursome helped fuel a high-powered attack at Fairview and are hoping to figure into the offensive plans of their college teams.
Turner rushed for 1,575 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior. He will join a traditionally strong Georgetown program that reeled off 10 wins last season before being outscored by Bethel University 45-44 in the NAIA playoffs.
Turner said he prayed about his college decision and asked God for guidance.
“I think Georgetown is a good fit,” Turner said. “It’s a Christian school, which I like. I attended one of their games and the number one thing I saw was how disciplined and organized they were.”
He plans to major in psychology, with philosophy as a minor.
“Plus going there, I will have a chance to do missionary work,” Turner said.
Rutherford, a speedy wideout, had 22 receptions for 567 yards and six TDs in his only season at Fairview after transferring from Huntington High.
“My only regret is that I didn’t bring him to Fairview his freshman year,” said Mason’s father, Jeff Rutherford. “I love this school.”
Mason said he decided Monday night on Morehead State. He looked at several schools, with Georgetown being his only other visit.
MSU threw 428 passes last season and Rutherford looks for that trend to continue under new head coach Rob Tenyer.
“It’s a spread offense, about 80-20 pass,” Rutherford said. “Coach Tenyer came to my house last week. I really respected him as a man, and as a coach. When I was on their campus, I felt I was at home there.”
Rutherford also likes the fact that former University of Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson has been hired as wide receivers coach for the Eagles.
Playing college football is a dream come true for Rutherford. He was inspired by his grandfather, Frank, played wingback at Vinson High School in west Huntington and was a member of three state championship teams.
Rutherford plans to go into the education field.
“I want to teach and eventually become a principal, like (Fairview’s) Garry McPeek,” he said.
King accompanied Rutherford from Huntington and also made a major impact with the Eagles. The tailback carried for 1,379 yards and 21 scores in just 12 games. He scored Fairview’s only touchdown in the state championship game.
“To have this opportunity is amazing,” said King, holding an EKU cap. “I can’t wait.”
King described his recruiting process as long, exciting and stressful.
“I was talking to multiple coaches every day,” he said. “In the end, I knew I made the right choice.”
An honor roll student, King will major in sports management and said EKU’s high graduation success rate factored into his decision.
“That stuck out because everybody is one play from an injury that can end your career,” he said.
King sees himself as a potential slot receiver and perhaps return man at EKU, where Dane Damron is the offensive coordinator.
“I think that’s a good place for me,” King said. “I’m happy I had a chance to play in a state championship game for Fairview and be around a great group of coaches. I can’t thank coach McPeek and the others enough for what they meant to me.”
Brewer, the All-Area Small School Player of the Year, said he had decided not to play college football before changing his mind Tuesday.
“I talked to my mom about much I wanted to play,” said Brewer, who texted his decision to Nathan McPeek late Tuesday night. “Eastern’s coach was talking to Garry (McPeek). If I wanted to play there was an open spot on the roster for me. They only have two fullbacks on their roster.”
Brewer rushed for more than 4,200-plus yards and 47 TDs during his Fairview career. He was a bright spot for the Eagles in the state championship game with 16 carries for 148 yards.
The idea of remaining teammates with King appeals to Brewer.
“I think it will be good,” he said. “We became good friends this season.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.