Another memorable day for the Atlanta United Academy as ten players from the youth system announced their college destinations as part of National Signing Day. National Signing Day is when all future college athletes announce where they will continue their careers as student-athletes, and all ten of Atlanta United’s players inked paper today signed with Division I programs, the top tier of intercollegiate athletics.
“Ten guys going to Division I colleges on very good scholarships is an achievement in our eyes,” said Academy Director Tony Annan. “It’s nearly impossible to produce twelve professional players every cycle, so we have to really be focused on education and getting guys into that pathway. Hopefully a few of those come through that pathway out as professionals on the other end. For those that don’t, it sets them up for a good career and a good start in life at a great college.”
Will Crain, one of the players from the USSDA National Champion U-17 team last year, committed to Brown University. He says it’s the culmination of a lifelong goal.
“You always dream of that, when you’re a little kid. You’re thinking ‘where am I going to go to college.’ Then high school starts and you have to actually start thinking about it –– talking with your parents, taking trips, going on your visits, going to camps. It all just happens so fast. Then having talked to coaches about what the best place is for me to go as an athlete and academically... I’m very excited because even if I can’t sign pro right now, it gives me four years to get better and stronger and then hopefully come back for Atlanta and rejoin the team. ”
All in all, Wednesday was a worthy cause for celebration at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta. Because while grooming professional players is a worthy goal, it’s just one piece of the Atlanta United Academy mission.
“It’s important to take a holistic approach to development as opposed to being just running, kicking and lifting,” Annan said. “Education about life in general outside of college is important for us, and the more information we can give them when they leave here, the better we’ll feel about who we’ve produced as a human and a soccer player. We’re not just trying to produce that professional, we’re also trying to produce good guys who can go on to the next level of college soccer and progress, whether that’s as a professional soccer player or a doctor or lawyer.”
The full list of university commitments from Atlanta United today:
- Charlie Asensio – Clemson University
- James Brighton – Clemson University
- Will Crain – Brown University
- Justin Garces – UCLA
- Dawson Gideon – Mercer University
- Omar Mustafic – UNC Charlotte
- Victor Pereyra-Zavala – Georgia State University
- Kahsay Sahlu – Coastal Carolina University
- Russell Shealy – University of Maryland
- Blake White: University of Alabama-Birmingham