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Late decision bring mixed feelings at Duluth

Anfornee Stewart signed with Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday.

Anfornee Stewart signed with Middle Tennessee State on Wednesday.

The college football recruiting process can be a lengthy one, something the nine Duluth players who signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday can attest to.

Several of those players received offers in the recent days leading up to signing day, with several waiting as late as Wednesday morning to make their final decisions.

There were many things Wildcats coach Corey Jarvis said his players learned about the process, and the effect waiting so late into it to make a decision.

"It's a long road. It's a hard road. But it's a great road if you're able to do it," Jarvis told his players in the audience of Duluth's signing ceremony Wednesday at the school's theater. "These guys have their own stories to tell about the recruiting process because the recruiting process is a game. Sometimes it's a game that's not played real nice, but these young men up here all made great decisions on their future."

When Jarvis referred to the recruiting process as being "a game that's not played real nice" at times, he was likely specifically referring to the recruitment of Anfornee Stewart.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound quarterback signed Wednesday to play safety at Middle Tennessee State after initially receiving offers from several major Division I programs like Michigan State, Central Florida, Louisville and Kentucky early in the process.

However, some of those offers were pulled when he chose to wait to explore his options before making a decision.

'"Anfornee learned the hard way how the game is played," Jarvis said. "The way the internet is and the way things work out, it's almost like you (have to) commit early so you can have something. They take scholarship (offers) away left and right, and kids are decommiting. It's a bad thing, and I think the only way (the NCAA is) going to change it is have an early signing period for football."

On the other side of the coin, Wildcats offensive lineman Mark Ruskell had a much more pleasant experience with making a decision late.

While receiving brief flirtations from Middle Tennesee Tennessee State, Appalachian State and Elon, it looked like the 6-3, 290-pound center was leaning towards accepting a scholarship from Division II Tusculum College.

However, upon hearing that he was still uncommitted, coaches from Georgia State quickly invited Ruskell -- the nephew of former Atlanta Falcons assistant general manager and former Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell -- for an official visit to the school's downtown Atlanta campus last weekend before extending a scholarship offer that he accepted.

"I never had the official offer (from Middle Tennessee State), and (Georgia State) thought I was committed there," Ruskell said. "So, when they came (to Duluth) Thursday, they were shocked to see I hadn't committed anywhere. So they visited on Thursday, I went to visit (GSU) on Saturday and I had the offer on Monday.

"It was quick. I was glad it came through."