HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — After years of hard work, sacrifices and determination, childhood dreams came true for football players all over the country, including a few here in North Alabama, signing their national letters of intent.

Mars Hill offensive lineman Koby Keenum signed the dotted line on Wednesday morning to join the Kentucky Wildcats. He said he made instant connections with the Kentucky players and coaches, and already feels very comfortable there.

Keenum quickly made an impact for the Panthers program, helping them win a state championship. Now he’s leaving another legacy as the first player in program history to play for a Power 5 SEC program. Keenum says it’s a testament to his coaches and teammates and what they’ve been able to build at Mars Hill during this first decade.

“It means a lot to me, it’s a lot of hard work that goes into it but Coach [Darrell] Higgins and the rest of the coaching staff here that’s helped a lot of training me and the rest of my teammates to get to where I am today and I couldn’t have done none of that without them, the rest of my coaches and teammates, and God,” he said. “It just shows the family atmosphere we have at Mars Hill and all of my teammates are real close. It just shows how tight we are and how much of a family Mars Hill is,”

Huntsville high school wide receiver Kam White will officially be joining the Southern Illinois football team. White finished his Panthers career with over 1100 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, and will now bring that talent to the next level. And although he’ll be going a little far from home, White said the coaching staff made him feel at home right away and he’s looking forward to making everyone back home here in Huntsville proud.

“Just the coaches communicating with me and I had great bonding with the coaches, and when I was up there, it felt like home,” he said. “[I’m ready to] make my parents proud. I’m thankful for everyone that’s supported me along my journey and I’m just blessed,”

Some other Tennessee Valley athletes signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday as well. Florence defensive back Jahlil Hurley is headed to Tuscaloosa to join the Alabama Crimson Tide as part of their No.1 ranked recruiting class. The four-star prospect is getting ready for the Under Armour All-American game as well.

Bob Jones’ offensive lineman Maddox Sunderman is staying in-state and will suit up for Jacksonville State. And offensive lineman Edgar Amaya is returning to the Shoals. After playing at Colorado, the Russellville alum will play for UNA.

If you know of a student-athlete who is signing to continue their athletic career in college, please let our sports department know. You can email olivia.whitmire@whnt.com, claudia.chakamian@whnt.com or news@whnt.com.