MOUNT DORA, Fla. - Rashad Cummings can have his cake and eat it too.
After being shunned on National Signing Day by Division I programs, the Mount Dora running back earned an opportunity to play at the college level, signing Wednesday with North Greenville College, a Division II school.
“I was recruited as a running back, but they felt I had the speed to play defensive back, wide receiver and other positions,” Cummings said. “But as a tailback, I will get playing time right away. I could even start. The coaches said they want to have the best man on the field and not to sound conceited, I think I can be the best man.
“I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t sign on signing day. But I’m going to a place where I don’t have to sit and wait two years behind the Frank Gores. I’m not going to be carrying anyone’s bags. There is the possibility that I will be the top man there.”
Cummings traveled to Tigerville, S.C., on Feb. 19 to tour the campus and meet coaches and players. Both sides were so impressed with each other that the football program offered Cummings a full scholarship on the spot and he accepted it.
“(The coaches) were real straightforward with me,” Cummings said. “They were really friendly toward me. They made sure I had everything. I got to know the players real well. They made me feel real at home.”
The Crusaders finished 2-8 as part of the Independent Football Alliance in 2004, but the school has spent $10 million in the past two years on athletic facilities, such as a stadium and athletic fields.
“That’s a lot for a DII school,” Cummings said. “I feel real good about the situation the football program is in.”
In his senior campaign, Cummings rushed for 883 yards on 151 carries while scoring 11 touchdowns. He also had nine receptions for 109 yards and one touchdown while getting significant playing time on defense and special teams.
“Rashad brings a lot of different qualities to a team but the biggest quality was his leadership skills,” Mount Dora special teams coach Mark Streit said. “He works hard and he leads by example.
“He’s a prime example of the character building things that sports does for a young man. He’s setting an example for the rest of his team that if you work hard on the field and in the classroom, you can get a college scholarship. All the coaches are so proud of him.”
Prior to a signing ceremony Wednesday at Mount Dora High School, Cummings’ family brought in a blue and white cake that read “Congrats Rashad.”
“This right here makes the hot practices, the long games, sometimes playing positions I wasn’t used to playing, all worth it,” Cummings said. “It all paid off in the long run. I have a full ride to get my degree. It’s all sweet now.”