For years, Huntsville seniors Anthony Brown and Ed Lenoir have heard their coaches talking about playing football on the “next level.” This fall, the two Hornets will get a chance to see what that’s all about as Brown and Lenoir join two of their high school teammates at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.

Brown and Lenoir signed scholarship offers from ETBU last week. Already, Patrick Bolian and Marcus Booker had inked deals with the Tigers’ football program.

“That’s wonderful. We’ll all be together,” Brown said Friday. “Huntsville’s going to come up there and swarm on them. When we hit the field, people are going to say, ‘Wow, Huntsville’s here.’

“It’ll be good to have my boys around me. They can relate to me, they’re going to be there, so we’ll never feel like we’re alone,” he added.

Brown and Lenoir joined a growing list of Hornets who will play college football later this fall. Offensive lineman Adrian Archie signed with Texas Tech, Josiah Bone is headed to Howard Payne. Booker and Bolian signed earlier this month with East Texas Baptist, and three Hornets — Jamie Baine, Jim Dixon and Corey Countz — have been invited to walk on at Sam Houston State.

“I want these kids to have the opportunity to go to the next level,” Huntsville head coach Mitchell Coey said. “Hopefully, we prepare them for what they’re about to experience, in football and academics both. These two guys, Ed and Anthony, are as quality of guys as you’d ever want to be around. I’m glad to see all four of those guys go off to the same school because freshmen get homesick. I don’t want any of them coming back to Huntsville.”

Coey said the Tigers are thrilled to be getting four quality players from Huntsville.

“Talking to the East Texas (Baptist) coaches, they think they stole four athletes,” Coey said. “They feel like all four of them can come in and play right away.”

That’s exciting, Brown says. He can’t wait to put the pads on again and kick off another season.

“It just dawned on me, the other morning I was laying in bed thinking, ‘Next fall, I’m going to be playing football,’” Brown said. “We’re always talking about playing at the next level, and I’m actually going to be playing at the next level. My little brother is in pre-K, and it’s going to be fun for him to watch me play college football.”

Brown was considering East Texas Baptist before he ever was offered a football scholarship. When Bolian and Booker encouraged him to check into the Tigers’ football program, he jumped at the chance.

“Patrick and Marcus brought up East Texas, so I said I’ll go up there with you and check it out,” Brown said. “I really liked it. Actually, I loved it.”

Lenoir said he had the same feeling for the small school in Marshall.

“I went up there with my Mom on spring break and nobody was there,” he said. “We checked out the campus and really liked it. I went back again and met the coaches. I sat in on some meetings and watched practice. They said I could play tight end or defensive end, they gave me a choice. I’m going to try to earn a spot at tight end.”

Brown says he’s going to pursue a degree in psychology; Lenoir wants to study computer science.

Lenoir’s mother says it’s going to be hard to let Ed go, but she is thrilled about him going to college and continuing his football career.

“Ed’s my oldest son, my first born,” Virginia Lenoir said. “I guess I’ve got to stop thinking he’s a baby. He’s grown up now. I think college life will be really good for him, it’ll give him a chance to experience some things and an opportunity to better himself. He’ll have a better outlook on life.”

“I think he made a good choice,” she added. “He feels good about it, and that’s the most important thing. We let him make his own decision, and we’re going to support him.”

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