Most of the area’s top high school football players had made up their minds well before Wednesday’s National Signing Day arrived. But that didn’t stop the phones from ringing with renewed intensity over the past two weeks.
South Aiken coach Jeremy West fielded many of the calls from college programs inquiring about defensive lineman Josh Brown. Fox Creek’s Russ Schneider was doing the same with top safety prospect
“A couple of the big schools came on late last week or so,” West said. “But Clemson got on him pretty early, and that’s who he stuck with.”
“Now maybe the phone will finally stop ringing,” Schneider said.
Clemson received verbal commitments early from three local stars, and the seniors kept their word Wednesday with signing ceremonies. More than 100 students, friends and family celebrated with Brown and fellow defensive lineman Tarik Scafe, who signed with Benedict.
Silver Bluff defensive back Cordrea Tankersley will join Brown and Williams at Death Valley next season.
“Clemson was my top choice all along,” Tankersley said. “I wanted the experience of recruiting. Now that it’s over with I’m ready to move on and go
Tankersley’s teammate, Blake Robbins, will play football at Charleston Southern after the 6-foot-6 basketball player led the Silver Bluff defensive line in his first year of varsity football.
The Citadel landed The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina Player of the Year when North Augusta’s Vinny Miller committed to the Charleston, S.C. school. Miller was one of four Yellow Jackets to sign national letters of intent.
Receiver Montez McGuire (Georgia Military), quarterback Tyrell Hillary (North Greenville) and linebacker DeVontez Rouse (North Greenville) also signed.
Rouse originally picked Lenoir-Rhyne as his college but made a switch in the final days.
“I decided to go to the place that wanted me most,” he said. “There’s a pretty good chance for me to see some early playing time there.”
The size of the class was on par with what North Augusta has produced in previous years, and the party atmosphere was familiar to coach Dan Pippin.
“It’s a pretty fun time for everybody,” he said. “When you have school board members and friends and family coming to congratulate these guys, you can tell the town really supports the program.”
The party was a little more emotional at Fox Creek, where Williams became the program’s first major college signee.
A box of tissues made its way around to friends and family just before the ceremony, and Williams used both of his large hands to wipe his face immediately after putting pen to paper.
“It just started to hit me,” he said. “It’s an emotional thing.”
The Predators won their first playoff game in 2010 and reached the second round again in 2011 with Williams under center and roaming the defensive secondary.
Williston-Elko’s Rokeem Williams, a wide receiver and defensive back, signed with Miami (Ohio), fellow Blue Devil Kendric Salley signed with South Carolina.
And Strom Thurmond quarterback Raleigh Yeldell committed to Newberry.
Sports Editor John Boyette contributed to this story.