Two of South Pointe's best football players made college commitments this week.
But Stallions offensive coordinator/assistant head coach Jason McManus, speaking for head coach Strait Herron who is on vacation, wanted to talk about the character of Jaylen Mahoney and Joe Ervin, more than anything.
"They check every box as a human being," said McManus. "The group leadership and character that we have coming back is the best we've had, and those two guys are about as good as it gets."
Ervin, a 3.8 GPA student and 1,200-yard rusher in 2017, committed to play college football at Coastal Carolina on June 6. Mahoney, a 4.2 GPA student and sure-tackling cornerback, committed to Wake Forest on Friday, June 9.
Last season Mahoney broke up 13 passes and intercepted three, and made 85 tackles, occasionally darting away from a wide receiver's block to spear an opposing ball-carrier's legs. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound rising senior had a number of scholarship offers, including ones from Ball State, Kent State, Yale, Vanderbilt and Liberty. Strong academics meant Mahoney had a number of excellent options.
"When you talk about the word 'fit' obviously it doesn't get any better for a really smart kid to go to a school like Wake Forest," said McManus.
Mahoney joins two other York County natives, former South Pointe defensive line standout Zeek Rodney and Clover kicker Nick Sciba, in the Wake Forest football program.
While Mahoney heads out of state, Ervin will remain in-state, a big deal for a Coastal Carolina program that has caught some flak recently for not signing enough prospects from South Carolina.
In Ervin, the Chanticleers got a powerful runner, who has improved his physique drastically since the end of last season. McManus said Ervin weighed 167 pounds in the 4A state championship last December, and tips the scales at 185 pounds now.
Ervin had a couple of other offers, including Charleston Southern and Wofford, but Coastal was the destination he really wanted. Visits to the Conway, S.C. school in the past few months only solidified that feeling.
"Just the love they showed me," he said. "It was consistent. It just felt like home."
"Coastal made a really good push for him because they're only taking one running back," McManus said. "With the early signing period this year, which is more and more accelerated, we're just encouraging our guys if they get an offer they like, they need to take it."
South Pointe will count on Mahoney and Ervin heavily this coming fall, but also in the locker room and hallways of the school. The pair are part of a new leadership council that the Stallions coaching staff formed, one that they think can enhance the team's chances of winning a fifth straight state title despite huge graduation losses.
"Nobody's giving us a chance next year, but just hold on," said McManus, chuckling. "With guys like that? We've always got a shot."