Extra year of eligibility request long shot for Rebels' Hamilton

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Strom Thurmond's Jakar Hamilton will have an interesting day on Aug. 20.

That's when the South Carolina High School League will hear his case for an extra year of eligibility. His case is unique because he lost credits when he transferred from Texas during his freshman year, in addition to his age and the fact he was one of the top players in the area last year.

Hamilton still needs a full year of Senior English to qualify for a football scholarship. That's why he will be back at Strom Thurmond for another senior year.

Hamilton said he will not turn 18 until October. His age works in his favor, but the fact he entered high school in Texas in the fall of 2003 works against him in terms of the four-year clock most state public high school associations use to determine athletic eligibility.

Neither Hamilton nor Strom Thurmond coach Lee Sawyer expect the SCHSL to rule in his favor. No matter the ruling, his decision to return for another year is a big financial savings vs. the cost of going to a prep school.

"They're probably not going to let me play," Hamilton said. "It's like a half-court shot in basketball going in for me to get to play."

If he takes care of his English requirement and nails a qualifying score on his ACT, he should repeat the recruiting process this year.

Hamilton scored 34 touchdowns over the past two seasons. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete said Clemson, South Carolina, Marshall and Texas A&M would all likely resume their interest in him once he's academically eligible.

"I'm just working out now with a personal trainer and thinking about English class," he said.

NEW ROAR: Laney has a tough test this fall considering the turnover within the program.

New coach Lemuel Lackey takes over after serving as defensive coordinator under close friend Eric Parker for 10 seasons.

His preseason drills have been very focused. He even made his young son, Lleyton, do a push-up for leaving his oversized helmet on the field.

It's hard not to smile watching Lleyton and other elementary school-aged kids tag along during warm-up drills with the team. The children are all sons of the team's coaches.

The task at hand isn't easy for Lackey's first year. The Wildcats graduated their top starter at offensive line, quarterback, running back, linebacker and wide receiver from last year's team.

That said, the Wildcats look like they may have more team speed than in the past several years.

Laney also has a transfer that should see a lot of time this fall. Junior Kwame Cunningham transferred in after serving as a backup quarterback at North Augusta last season.

ON THE MOVE: Wide receiver E.J. Bijur, one of the top private school players in the area last fall, has moved from Curtis Baptist to Fox Creek.

The sophomore had 49 catches for 857 yards last season. Those totals were the highest in the area.

TEAM GOAL: Greenbrier quarterback Nick Richards pointed out how important it will be to get off to a strong start this fall.

"As long as I can remember our team has always lost the first game of the season," he said. "That will be big this year. We've got to get that first one to get off to our first 1-0 start in a while."

Greenbrier's last winning debut came in 2003.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.


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