The longer Burke County stayed alive in the playoffs, the greater the attention became, including those from colleges.
“It probably would not have happened if we hadn’t played in the Dome,” Bears football coach Eric Parker said. “We’re excited. When kids start to see this really happens here, kids coming along put themselves in a better position.”
Burke County won the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state title this year, and some of its players benefited from getting more time to shine in front of watching colleges.
Parker expects at least two players to sign on Wednesday, which is National Signing Day.
The big one seems to be Montres Kitchens, who committed to Troy. The Trojans play in the Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
But the extra games were especially important for players with hopes of signing with smaller schools. Parker estimated there were about eight junior colleges at the Georgia Dome.
However, when it comes signing with larger schools, Kitchens isn’t alone. Thomson’s John Atkins committed to Georgia back in September and helped Thomson go 9-2 this season.
Three local South Carolina high schools reached the state semifinals this past fall.
So it’s no surprise that a bumper crop of college recruits will highlight the area’s National Signing Day festivities this week.
North Augusta, which reached the Class AAAA Division II state semifinals for the second consecutive year, will see four of its players sign national letters-of-intent, head coach Dan Pippin said.
Vinny Miller, The Augusta Chronicle’s South Carolina Player of the Year, will sign with The Citadel, while fellow seniors Montez McGuire (Georgia Military College), Tyrell Hillary (North Greenville) and Devontez Rouse (Lenior-Rhyne) will also make commitments.
Though South Aiken’s football program didn’t see put many dents in the win column in 2011, second-year coach Jeremy West said he hopes “to have between five and seven” players sign to play college football.
“It was a good year in the county and around the area,” West said. “There’s a lot good football around here, and the colleges have noticed that. They’re paying attention.”
South Aiken’s top signee will be defensive lineman Josh Brown, who has committed to Clemson. Silver Bluff’s Cordrea Tankersley and Fox Creek’s Marty Williams will also sign national letters-of -intent this week to play
Williams’ high school career ended with a frightening scene when he was carried off the field in a neck brace during a state playoff loss. Head coach Russ Schneider said the scary incident won’t affect Williams’ college career.
“He’s done great since then,” Schneider said. “He didn’t get to play in the Shrine Bowl because of it, but it turned out to be just a neck strain. He’ll be OK.”
Williston-Elko will continue its recent string of producing top college recruits. Kendric Salley has committed to play at South Carolina.