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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Twenty-one young men from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District made it official Wednesday, signing to play in college after successful high school athletic careers.

Sixteen of the young men are from Glenville High School, which won the Division IV State Championship, the first in district history.

Head Coach Ted Ginn Sr. said this group will always have a special place in his heart, not only for the title run but for how they handled the adversity created by the pandemic.

“When you can graduate your kids you’re winning, but when you can get them to college, you’re dominating you know, so I’m always happy about that,” Ginn Sr. said.

Some of the student-athletes are headed to play at big colleges. Arvell Reese is signing with the Ohio State Buckeyes to play linebacker.

“Growing up in Cleveland, always dreamed at playing at Ohio State,” Reese said. “Watching it on TV with all my friends, it’s definitely been a dream of mine. My family is happy for me as well.”

But not all the athletes found success in gathering offers.

“The whole journey of getting here was rough,” John Marshall senior football player Desmond Brown said. “There were times where I just felt like giving up, quitting.”

Brown received little attention from scouts during his playing career, but thanks to the CMSD HBCU combine he started to get noticed.

“All of the hard work that I put in just started to show,” Brown said. “Colleges started coming up to me. The first college that came up to me was Alabama A&M.”

Brown’s coach commended his commitment to the classroom, stating that he carries a near 4.0-grade point average. Brown committed to play linebacker at Notre Dame College – with hopes of making it to the NFL, so he can provide for his family and give back to the local community.

“I promise I’m blessed,” he said. “I just can’t thank the Lord for everything that he did for me.”

“I want you to get that degree though,” his mother Amber Brown said. “The NFL is cool, but I want you to get that degree.”

The HBCU combine is in its second year. The CMSD Commissioner of Athletics Desiree Powell said they plan to continue the combine, offering the opportunity to athletes in all sports.