By Bret McCormick
A trio of Rock Hill Bearcats signed papers Wednesday at noon that ensure their football abilities will pay for higher education. Tre Thompson, Josh Erby and Jonathan Adams joined the college football ranks in front of family, coaches and teammates at the school Wednesday at noon. Thompson will join Limestone College’s program, which begins play in 2014, while Erby heads off to Bluefield College in the mountains of Virginia to join that school’s second-year program. Adams enters a unique situation with Greenville Tech, where he plays football and can take classes at several different community colleges to raise his test scores and attempt to move on to an NCAA school within a year or two.
Adams’ opportunity in Greenville is all about getting a chance to improve his eligibility and football ability.
“They let them play football and they send the film all over and they get re-recruited,” said Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery.
Adams went to a combine about three weeks ago in Greenville and performed well enough to hear back from the program’s coaches. He also had interest from Newberry, West Liberty and Liberty University, but decided Greenville Tech’s unique situation was best for him.
“The way the program is set up and talking with some of the players, I just felt comfortable,” said Adams. “I felt I was already part of the team.”
Adams was joined Wednesday by family and friends, including his mother and father Tina and John Adams.
The senior running back shined for the Bearcats this season, rushing for 1,128 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 148 carries, an average of 7.6 yards per touch. The Greenville Tech team runs a spread offense like Rock Hill, and will give Adams the chance to play right away in the offensive backfield.
“The whole idea was I could come in, get playing time my freshman year and after that I could transfer to another D-I or D-II school,” he explained, “and from there start my career. That’s my whole goal.”
Erby heads to Bluefield College, an NAIA school located in southwest Virginia almost directly on the West Virginia border. The Rams re-launched their football program last year after a 70-year hiatus, and needed a quarterback to run their spread offense.
“They came by here, the guy was going to Florida to recruit, we showed them the film of Josh and he said ‘that kid can start for us right now,’” said Montgomery. “So they offered him.”
Montgomery’s pass-happy offense highlighted Erby’s ability to move around in the pocket and fling the ball downfield, something he’ll do plenty of in Bluefield’s second-year program. Erby threw for 2,862 yards and 32 touchdowns during his senior campaign in Rock Hill, while completing 160 of his 258 pass attempts.
It will be a tough experience for Erby, playing for a Rams team that lost all 11 of its games last year. Such was the Bluefield coaching staff’s interest in the Bearcat signal caller that after receiving his game film one day, they called to offer a scholarship the next night. Erby, who also heard from Ferrum College (Va.) and Newberry, will head off to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to try and get the Rams in the win column for the first time since 1941.
Erby said he’ll miss “Playing football with my fellas’. I’m gonna miss my high school days.”
Joining Erby Wednesday were his parents, Salena and Darrell Erby, and his brother Darrell Erby Jr., and sister Sherina Wright.
Montgomery had high praise for Thompson, who will play slot receiver in Limestone’s - you guessed it - spread offense.
“He’s the example that everybody should look at,” Montgomery said. “He’s a guy that does the work, never misses practice, always on time, always does the classroom work. He’s the example.”
Thompson had 468 receiving yards and four touchdowns for the Bearcats this past fall. He was invited to a combine April 20 at Limestone and excelled.
“They told me the competition was too easy for me,” said Thompson with a chuckle. “They wanted me to come down there, and I told them I was ready.”
Thompson may not be the biggest kid on the field, but he makes up for size in other areas.
“He has great determination and great hands,” said Montgomery. “Those kinds of people are very valuable to football teams.”
Thompson’s mother and father, Lisa and Robert Thompson, joined him at the signing. He’ll be joined in Gaffney by a slew of in-state talent when the program begins competitive play in 2014, including York quarterback Spencer Carroll.
“I felt like it was a good opportunity to go down there, make a name for myself,” said Thompson, who will redshirt this coming season alongside the entire recruiting class.
Rock Hill didn’t have a great season as a team, but Thompson felt the experience was valuable, especially as he heads off to a first-year program.
“I grew as a player,” he said. “The coaches and everybody was still behind us even when we was losing. I went into every game knowing we were gonna win. That didn’t always happen, but I look back at it as a good experience.”
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T