OBITUARIES: Decatur | Shoals | Huntsville
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4 Tanner players ready for next challenge
By Justin Graves
The Decatur Daily

Daily Photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Tanner High football players sign their national letters of intent in the Media Center at Tanner High on Wednesday. Fred Rich signs his letter to play for the University of North Alabama.

TANNER — Sitting in front of a large group of family and friends, four Tanner High football standouts officially ended their college recruitment by signing National Letters of Intent today.

Safety Greg Maclin signed with UAB, while three other Rattlers signed with Division II programs.

Linebacker Fred Rich signed with North Alabama, fullback Kyle Shoulders signed with Miles and offensive lineman Tray Fletcher signed with West Alabama.

“For these guys, this is an important moment in their lives,” Tanner coach Laron White said while addressing the crowd. “All of these guys worked hard for this, and now they’re going to move on to the next challenge. … If they keep working hard, I know all of these guys will continue to accomplish their goals.”

All four players starred on a Tanner defense that was one of the area’s best. In 14 games, the Rattlers finished with five shutouts and did not give up a single point through the first three rounds of the Class 2A playoffs.

Tanner finished the season with the program’s first state title.

Maclin played a key role in that success. The 6-foot-3 and 170-pound senior finished with 30 tackles and six interceptions, returning two for touchdowns.

“This is an exciting day,” Maclin said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and now I can’t wait to get down to UAB for the next challenge.”

With Rich, UNA signed one of the area’s most decorated football players. Rich, a 6-3 and 195-pound linebacker, was selected in January as the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A lineman of the year. The senior was also selected as The Daily’s 2012 Class 1A-3A football player of the year.

Rich, who was the MVP of the Class 2A state title game, led Tanner’s defense with 66 tackles and two interceptions.

“I liked everything about my visit at UNA,” Rich said. “The coaches told me that if I come over and work hard, then I should have a chance to play. I think it’s going to be a good place for me.”

Shoulders and Fletcher played key roles for Tanner on both sides of the ball. As a fullback, Shoulders was the lead blocker for two 1,500-yard rushers, while Fletcher anchored one of the area’s best offensive lines.

All four players enjoyed a relaxed celebration with friends, family, coaches and former teammates.

And while participating in their first media blitz, the future college players managed to sneak in a few friendly pranks.

The first attempt was aimed at Maclin.

While answering questions from multiple local television reporters, Maclin had to block out distractions in the background as teammates shuffled behind the cameras, snickering as they snapped photos with cell phones.

After finishing his camera time, Maclin returned the favor as his three former teammates talked to reporters.

“This is a good group of kids,” White said. “They’ve accomplished a lot, and I’m proud of every one of them.”

Signing Day at Tanner High

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