The NCAA early signing period ends today, but a handful of area athletes have already signed national letters-of-intent.
Hephzibah's Jennifer East and April Clyburn, two members who helped lead the Lady Rebels into the state Final Four last season, signed basketball scholarships with Samford and Hampton, respectively, while Warren County center Dennis Young signed to play college basketball with Marist College next season.
Stephanie Quinn became the first girl in Columbia County to earn a golf scholarship when she signed a letter of intent with Oklahoma State. The Greenbrier senior had offers from colleges such as Tulsa, Kentucky, Georgia, Georgia State, Illinois and Florida State.
"I had always hoped to play at a great school like Oklahoma State," Quinn said. 'I'm just glad I got it over with and behind me. It took a lot of pressure off my back."
Augusta's Charles Howell, a former standout at Westminster, is a All-American junior at Oklahoma State.
Thomson's Wren Fowler also has signed a golf scholarship to play at Georgia Tech. Swainsboro's Will Claxton signed last week to play golf with Auburn.
In addition, Hephzibah's Tareka Henderson has signed a track and field scholarship with the University of Georgia.
East, a 5-foot-6 point guard for Hephzibah last season, averaged seven points per game and six assists as a junior. She was an excellent ball-handler and will be one of the area's top guards this season.
"My number one reason (for choosing Samford) was because they were ranked No. 6 in academics and I want to go to a medical school," said East, who also considered the University of Alabama-Birmingham in the recruiting process.
"They told me that 75 percent of their students who major in sports medicine get into med school. The school is also Baptist sponsored."
There's also a strong chance that East could play next season for the Lady Bulldogs.
"The coach (Janet Cone) said they were recruiting a main guard," East said. "One of the reasons I chose Samford was because I wanted to go somewhere where I could play. Coach told me I could possibly start next season as a freshman."
Clyburn, a 6-foot forward, is expected to dominate inside for the Lady Rebels this season. She had several offers from other schools including Georgia Tech, Memphis and UNC-Charlotte. Two other schools, Florida and Florida State, expressed interest in Clyburn but wanted her to wait until the late signing period.
"I wanted to go ahead and sign early because I'm trying to be an honor graduate, plus I want to help this team win a state title," Clyburn said. "I could have waited and signed with an ACC or an SEC school, but I wanted to go ahead and get it over with and concentrate on my senior season."
Young was a Class A all-state selection, averaging 20 points per game, 12.1 rebounds per game and 2.7 blocked shots per game to help lead Warren County to a 19-7 record and the Region 7-A title.
Henderson was The Augusta Chronicle's female track athlete of the year after winning the state title in the 200-meter dash and placing third in the long jump.
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