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February 6, 2013

SIGNING DAY: Cullman's Forrest inks letter of intent with Samford

CULLMAN — For Troy Forrest and his parents to be called into the principal’s office, the Cullman High three-sport standout must’ve done something either really, really bad or really, really good.

The latter was certainly the case on Wednesday morning, as Forrest, along with his mother, Anita, and father, Ken, filed into Elton Bouldin’s office to sign a national letter of intent to attend and play football at Samford University.

“I’m real relieved,” Forrest said shortly after penning his signature and joining the Bulldogs’ Division I program. “It’s been a long process. Just about every week, there were two or three coaches coming in. It was a real unique experience.”

The 6-foot-5, 225-pound pass receiver had his pick of the litter for where he wanted to continue his football career, fielding offers from Troy, Murray State, Middle Tennessee State, Jacksonville State and the Virginia Military Institute. In the end, though, Forrest firmly believed Samford was “just the right fit.”

“The coaching, the facilities and just the school in general,” he said of the factors that helped him make his final decision. “When I went on my visit, I met a couple of this year’s signees, and they were real cool guys. It just seemed right.

Samford is coming off a 7-4 season, its best since compiling the same record in 2003, in Pat Sullivan’s fifth year as head coach. Transitioning from playing under legendary Cullman coach Mark Britton to suiting up for the former Auburn great is an ideal situation for Forrest.

“Everything people say about him, he’s real genuine, a family guy,” the signee said of Sullivan. “Everybody down there, not just him, are just the friendliest. They really look out for you.”

Despite sharing catches with three other talented receiving options — Houston Turner, Wesley Hendrix and Mason Jones — his last two seasons with the Bearcats, Forrest still did plenty of damage in the statbook. Splitting time as a tight end and as a slot receiver, he racked up 47 receptions, 455 yards and seven touchdowns in his senior season, which ended with a deep run into the third round of the playoffs.

Forrest expects to be utilized by the Bulldogs just as he was by the Black and Gold, taking on dual roles at tight end and wide receiver. With two seniors filling similar spots next fall, he said there’s a likelihood he’ll be redshirted his first year, but that won’t keep him from trying to earn playing time as soon as possible.

“It just depends on how I get out there and perform,” Forrest said. “I want to play for a spot right off the bat.”

Britton, whose had the pleasure of coaching the tall target throughout his prep career, can definitely see Forrest making an immediate impact for Samford.

“I look for big things for Troy,” he said. “He’s a hybrid-type kid that is a big body but is really athletic, runs good routes, has soft hands and is really a highly skilled receiver. I’m excited for his future.”

According to Britton, Forrest has been the complete package as a student-athlete, excelling in the classroom, maturing into a fine young man and shining in every sport he’s participated in.

“They talk about the academic, the character and the football part of it,” the coach said. “Football probably comes in third with him. I think Troy has shown that in his career at Cullman High. He’s been a great leader for us and a great teammate.”

Ever since Forrest moved to Cullman in middle school, he looked forward to eventually playing under the Friday night lights at Oliver Woodard Stadium. Now that his four years are up, one of which included playing with his big brother, Drew, Forrest is thankful the experience and memories he’s gained as a Bearcat.

“It’s been a dream,” he said.

Former Cullman offensive lineman Charlie Sanford wrapped up his playing career at Samford this past fall, but Fairview grad Trett Hardman, who has switched from quarterback to tight end, still has two years left with the Bulldogs.

“Welcome to the family,” Hardman said in reply to a tweet about Forrest signing with Samford on Wednesday.



% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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