Coming out of Albany and Early County High Schools, Emmanuel Byrd and Shaq Powell respectively know that they have earned a rare opportunity to play in Sunday's National Junior College Athletic Association championship game.
"It's just a dream come true playing for a national championship," says Byrd, the former Albany High QB. "Being able to be on that stage is just a once in a lifetime type of thing."
"It's unbelievable," says former Early County OL Shaq Powell. "It's a chance of a lifetime. I'm ready to play."
Since leaving the Indians, Byrd has used his time at Georgia Military College to develop more than just his skills so he can play in Sunday's game.
"I have grown as a man and as a football player," says Byrd. "I got smarter. I'm making better decisions."
So much so that GMC head coach Bart Williams has created offensive sets to utilize Byrd's skills at QB, even though he is slotted in the number two spot.
So far this year he has thrown for three touchdowns and Byrd is grateful for the opportunity.
"Knowing that he sees enough talent in me to put me on the football field, it's just a blessing and I'm thankful for it," Byrd says.
While the former Albany QB has some packages installed for him in the offense, Powell isn't used as much on the line.
However both think that Sunday's game will be launching pads to breakout seasons next year.
"It's definitely going to make me go harder," says Powell. "It's going to make me go harder in the weight room and class room, and make me stay focused on everything."
"It feels good just going through the summer," Byrd says. "Just grinding out with a great team and just having a great year, it feels good to actually have success."
Williams expects Byrd to emerge as the full time starter next year under center while predicting that Powell will be one of the starters on the line keeping his jersey clean.
The NJCAA National Title Game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Sunday from Biloxi, MS. The game will be streamed live at http://www.njcaatv.com/bowlgames/.