With two days remaining before National Signing Day, Darren and Darnell Stephens finally came to a decision on where they would be taking their talents next fall.
Both standouts on the Rockdale County football team, the fraternal twins had the tough decision of either choosing to attend the same school together or go their separate ways.
In the end, Darren Stephens chose Clark Atlanta while Darnell Stephens chose Fort Valley State, two Division II rivals in the SIAC Conference.
“We came to the decision on Monday,” Darnell said. “We didn’t have school, so we had all day to think about it. We were talking about it and (Darren) said he’d rather go to Clark Atlanta because he liked it more than Fort Valley. I told him that was good.”
Rockdale County head coach Jamie Baldwin, an identical twin, made sure to give the Stephens brothers the best advice he could after learning of their decisions to attend different schools.
“I remember the first time that I separated from my twin at the age of 17,” Baldwin said. “It was just something that I had to get used to. It wasn’t easy. I told them that they have to keep in touch with each other and try to motivate each other as much as they can. After that period passes, they will be fine. It’s going to be fun to watch them play each other at rival schools.”
Darren was the only Stephens twin with offers from both Clark Atlanta and Fort Valley State. In the end, Darren chose the Atlanta-based program for a couple of different reasons.
“Clark Atlanta was really invested in me and really showed me some love,” Darren said. “I thought it would be the best fit for me. We’re going to be playing each other, so we’ve already been talking about that. It’s going to be different, but we’re ready for it.”
At Clark Atlanta, Darren will fight for playing time at wide receiver while Darnell will enter his first year at Fort Valley State as a cornerback.
Darnell said the opportunity to continue his football career is something he has hoped to do for a long time.
“I had a dream about this day,” Darnell said. “I’ve been working for this day. My last brother didn’t sign, so my goal was to sign and show my mom that I could do this. Even though she still believed in me, I still wanted to prove it to her.”
Both twins said they are already looking forward to playing against one another next fall.
“That is pretty exciting,” Darnell said. “It’s going to be really fun now because our parents are going to come to our game one half Fort Valley, one half Clark Atlanta. That’s going to be pretty interesting.”
As for Baldwin, he said he’s going to miss having the twins on the team next season.
“They were late bloomers,” Baldwin said. “We saw a lot of potential in both Darren and Darnell, but it took some seasoning and some hard work on and off the field to get them to where they’re at now. They’re great kids and I’m going to miss watching them perform on the field.”
Four other Bulldogs signed their NLI’s Wednesday afternoon. Noah McGlockling signed with Gardner-Webb while Cameron Gray inked with D-III powerhouse Mount Union. Elonta Jackson signed with the University of Cumberlands while Promise Vita will join Alabama A&M as a walk-on.