Adairsville head football coach Eric Bishop said his 2018 senior class possessed the best combination of academic achievement and athletic prowess since he’s been the coach.
That will lead to several Tigers going on to play at the college level, and the first two came off the board Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Two of Adairsville’s best players and leaders, Bryce Burgess and Maddox Teems, inked their letters of intent to play at Reinhardt during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
“They’re two kids that have done things right, taking care of the academic end to put them in position to both sign on this National Signing Day,” Bishop said of Burgess and Teems. “Man, what they meant to this football program the last two or three years, and certainly what they meant to the program this last year, you can’t say enough about them.”
Teems was a standout three-year starter at guard for the Tigers. Bishop called him the best offensive lineman to come through the program since Georgia Tech signee Catlin Alford in 2010.
Burgess, meanwhile, played nine positions this year in all three phases, and was one of the Tigers’ most productive players on offense and defense.
Bishop credited the two with turning the ship around after a 3-7 season in 2016, and leading the Tigers back to the postseason in 2017.
While Bishop called Teems the consummate “leader by example,” he said of Burgess, “He really led the senior class from the Monday we got beat by North Murray his junior year. There was no way these guys were going to go 3-7 and not make the playoffs again. He was going to see to that that it didn’t happen again.”
Both Burgess and Teems were first team all-region selections, and had about 30 college scholarship offers between them.
The pair say they’re best friends, and signing and playing college football together was a priority. Between Reinhardt’s success this past season, making it to the NAIA championship game, and the Waleska school’s proximity to home, Reinhardt was an easy choice for both.
“The atmosphere was great, the coaching staff was awesome, the facilities, and it was a good location, not too far from home,” Teems said of his decision.
“They were the first school to ever contact me,” Burgess added. “They really took me in and made me feel like it was a home away from home. The coaching staff was really great. They’re very successful, and that’s always a plus.”
On Tuesday, Adairsville senior Dakota Hughes also committed to Reinhardt and will be signing Friday. Between the three, the Tigers are developing a strong pipeline to the Eagles.
“Niagel Curtis, who also attended here and played football for us, played [at Reinhardt] and had a good career there. There’s been a good relationship developed between us and the Reinhardt staff,” Bishop said. “With them being geographically so close, it’s real easy for them to get by here. It’s great to see the success they’re having, especially with as young of a football program as they are.”
While the Eagles were an easy choice for Burgess and Teems, they both had other opportunities to play. They were aggressive in the recruiting process, reaching out to coaches and attending camps, and combined with impressive senior season film, they received interest from NAIA, Division-II and Division-III schools.
“Those two probably did it better and more efficiently than any players I’ve coached in the past 25 years,” Bishop said of how Burgess and Teems handled the recruiting process. “They were really on a mission.
“It’s so odd that they both ended up down the road here, because they reached out to so many different places. They handled the recruiting process exactly the right way.”
Teems played baseball for the Tigers and Burgess is preparing for his third trip to the state traditional tournament in wrestling this weekend. However, both especially stood out on the football field.
Teems was twice named all-region and was a starter on Adairsville’s quarterfinalist squad in 2015.
Burgess, meanwhile, doesn’t know if he’ll play as a slot receiver or as a safety for Reinhardt, but he has the skill set to do both. He had 110 total tackles this year with 10 pass breakups. He also had 680 total yards of offense.
Burgess, who Bishop said is pound-for-pound one of the strongest players in the weight room over his time at Adairsville, said his goal in college is to be an NAIA All-American.
Teems hopes to win a national championship.
Both will get back on to the grind in the weight room today, but on Wednesday, they were celebrating.
“It’s a dream come true,” Teems said. “I put so much time and hard work into this. Finally signing, it’s a big sigh of relief, but then I have four more years of hard work, so you just have to go back to work.”
“I don’t know how many times I’ve stayed awake praying, just hoping for the day I’d get to play college ball, let alone do it with one of my best friends,” Burgess added. “So it’s an awesome experience. I’m blessed.”