Rock Hill High football standout woke up way earlier than usual on Feb. 6, 2019
Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 was Signing Day across the country. Student-athletes everywhere, including York, Chester and Lancaster counties, made their future plans official by signing, in some cases, national letters of intent. Check out the success stories from The Herald’s area:
Rock Hill High got things started
Three Bearcat football players got the day started by signing letters of intent to colleges in the Carolinas.
Narii Gaither, Gardner-Webb - Gaither also considered Tennessee Tech and East Tennessee State, but opted for Gardner-Webb because the coaches seemed the most genuine.
“They really treated me and my family like we were part of the Runnin’ Bulldog family,” said Gaither. “That’s a big deal.”
Gaither was The Herald’s All-Area defensive player of the year in 2017, and the offensive player of the year in 2018. He’ll play running back at Gardner-Webb, which plays FCS football, and study either communications or accounting. He has a 3.97 GPA, which any good accountant would round up to 4.0.
Logan Hicks, Wingate - Hicks had a familiar face showing him around his official visit of Wingate’s campus: his brother, Kendrick. Kendrick plays linebacker for the Bulldogs and was part of the appeal for Logan signing with the program on Wednesday. Logan, a defensive tackle, has a 3.5 GPA and wants to study biology so he can become a physician’s assistant. He said that the official visit to Wingate felt just like 10th grade when he last played football with his brother.
“It felt like deja vu basically,” Logan Hicks said.
Hicks had offers from nine Division II and III schools. He’s excited to play for the coaches at Wingate, “and they win,” Hicks said. “Everybody loves to win.”
Tavin Jackson, Erskine - Erskine has relaunched its football program for the first time since the 1950s and Jackson will be part of the Flying Fleet’s first class. Jackson will likely play tight end and was eager to be involved with building something from the ground up.
“That was probably the main reason,” he said. “Just having a clean slate. And I think the coaches really had faith in me to be part of that first class.
Jackson has a 4.0 GPA and wants to major in biology. He loves animals -- his family owns four dogs -- and would love to do something connected to zoology.
- Bret McCormick
Dozen Trojans will play college sports
Northwestern put together a huge class of student-athletes for its 2019
Zuric Harvey, Pfeiffer - Harvey will major in Accounting in college. He said his coach made it about more than basketball at Northwestern.
“I feel like they prepared me well to go to the collegiate level next year,” Harvey said. “Especially Coach Bramlett, he’s always just challenged me to be a better man.”
William Joyner, Limestone- Joy ner will be a business major and baseball player at Limestone.
“The campus was incredible,” Joyner said. “The people and the coaches there are just phenomenal.
“The coaches here did everything possible to help me. Coach (Mitch) Walters is a dedicated man. Very helpful. He’s a great guy.”
Will Rushing, USC-Lancaster - Rushing will study Business and exercise science in Lancaster, and he received the Life Scholarship. He had several junior college baseball offers before decided USC-L is the best fit for him.
“The coaches (at Northwestern) help you grow and get better every single da,” Rushing said. “They’re probably the greatest coaches ever.”
Aminah Johnson, Coastal Carolina - Johnson will play women’s soccer and major in biology at Coastal and then go to physician’s assistant school. She got a half scholarship for soccer and the rest paid for with academics.
“They (coaches) for sure helped me with conditioning and getting in the right mindset for college.”
She had offers from USC-L, Limestone, and Union College as well, before choosing Coastal Carolina.
“I love being at the beach,” Johnson said.
Rebecca Gibbons, Newberry - Gibbons will play tennis at Newberry, where she plans on majoring in occupational therapy.
“It’s a small college and I liked where it was located,” Gibbons said.
She feels ready for the next level. “Competing against all types of players in high school really helped.”
Piper Grant, Converse - Grant is headed to Converse to compete in track and field. Studio art will be her major in college.
“I was thinking about going to Anderson or Western Carolina, but I really clicked with the people at Converse,” Grant said. “I knew even if I had to walk on that I was going to run cross country because I love running. And I’ve made a lot of friends just from running cross country.”
Jaylon Baird, Union (Ky.) - Baird considered walking on at Wingate University but he was guaranteed to play football at Union. He will major in communications.
“I want to be a broadcaster,” Baird said. “I love talking about sports.”
He is one of six Trojans that signed football scholarships Wednesday, two with Union.
Gregory McMoore, Methodist - McMoore will study to be an engineer. Erskine was also a possible college choice before settling on Methodist.
“The coaches and teachers here looked out for me,” McMoore said. “They pushed me to do better. I didn’t have no trouble. I got injured my junior year during the off-season, and they pushed me to get better and I was able to play my senior year.”
John Odom, Newberry - Odom was one of two Trojan football players to ink with Newberry Wednesday. He plans to major in business. Limestone and Bridgewater (Va.) also were possibilities, but Odom, who excelled as a Trojan defensive end, said he just liked Newberry.
“Coach (James) Martin taught us a lot (at Northwestern),” Odom said.
G’Hari Paige, Union (Ky.) - Paige plans to study physical education and/or anything in the teaching field.
“I thought about walking on at Coastal, S.C. State, or Pfeiffer,” Paige said. “At Union it was like a family and I felt welcome.”
He had similar feelings about his time at Northwestern.
“When I first came here, I felt the love. Coach Martin pushed me so I could do better. I felt the love from my teammates.”
D’Arthur Ratchford, Newberry - Business administration will be Ratchford’s major at Newberry, where he’ll also play football. He picked the Wolves over Wingate and Catawba.
“Newberry was the best fit,” Ratchford said. “I like Coach Flynn (defensive coordinator).
“I learned a lot from Coach Martin and all them (other coaches). They taught me a lot and helped me. I had a good time.”
Kevin Thompson, Western Carolina - Last (alphabetically), but not least, Thompson will be a preferred walk-on long snapper for the Catamounts football team, where his dad also played football. He will major in Biology. He had a Division II offer from Tusculum University also.
“Western was the place I felt was home,” Thompson said. “The first moment I stepped on campus I knew I was in love with it. I got to meet some of the players and some of the coaches and it was a real good experience. I was really excited to get the offer.”
“This place is really amazing,” he said about Northwestern. “It’s really helped me prepare in the weight room and in life. It’s been really great.”
- Steven Bowers
Nine sign at South Pointe
South Pointe continued its strong run of student-athletes signing college sports agreements with nine more Stallions doing so on Wednesday.
Ty Good, College of Charleston - Highly-promising baseball prospect will play at the College of Charleston. Good said he thinks he’s got a shot to play as a true freshman for the Cougars. A 4.0 GPA student, Good was a 4A All-State selection in 2018, as well as the Region 3-4A pitcher of the year. He was also named All-State in 2017, and plans to pitch (and hit) for the Cougars.
“When I went up there to visit, they were really for me, they showed that they really wanted me to come,” said Good.
His sister, Shunteria, graduated from College of Charleston, so Good already knew what to expect from the school and its beautiful city. He plans to major in business management, with the goal of becoming an entrepreneur.
Dorian Jamison, Hutchinson Community College - The 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive tackle is a strong student and qualified academically for NCAA football (3.7 GPA), but opted for Hutchinson, based in Kansas and one of the nation’s premier junior college football programs.
Jamison had offers from Presbyterian, Mississippi Valley State and Stetson, but felt he could reach a higher level with another opportunity. Hutchinson, which produced recent Rock Hill Super Bowl winner Cordarrelle Patterson, offers that potential.
“I wasn’t satisfied with my offers,” said Jamison, who plans to focus on slimming down, and strengthening, his physique.
Marice Whitlock, Ellsworth Community College - Whitlock was a dynamic play-maker for the Stallions the last two seasons, and will play at least a year of junior college football in Iowa. Ellsworth just got a new head coach and he reached out to Whitlock quickly, a positive solution to a recruiting process that didn’t go exactly like Whitlock wanted.
“It felt good,” he said. “First, I was down about it, the slow recruiting, but then I had to look on the brighter side of it and just take the chance.”
Whitlock will play a similar role to what he did at South Pointe, mainly using his speed to create problems for opponents.
Gavin Bennett, South Carolina - Bennett had some four-year school options but decided to take a preferred walk-on spot with Gamecock football. The Stallions’ left tackle plans on studying engineering, then following his father’s footsteps into that field post-college. He’s got a 4.2 GPA, and now he’s got a chance to play football at an SEC program, South Carolina.
“My dad’s boss has season tickets, so when they don’t go we go,” Bennett said about his family. “I love going to the games.”
Bennett went to an offensive line camp and talked to South Carolina coaches about walking on, but he didn’t hear anything from them until last December, when a preferred walk-on spot quickly materialized.
Dorian Manning, Newberry - Manning’s hulking frame immediately hints at his football prowess, but he admitted Wednesday that he never thought he’d be signing an NLI to play the game at the college level.
After he’d actually put pen to paper, “It just felt good,” said Manning, who isn’t sure on the subject he’ll major in, yet.
The family atmosphere that Manning felt at Newberry convinced him to sign with the Wolves. He’ll be joined by two South Pointe teammates in this signing class, making about a dozen Stallions playing football at the in-state college.
Savion White, Newberry - Look for White to redshirt his freshman year of football at Newberry, pack on weight and muscle, then resume the regular backfield visits he had scheduled as a Stallion defensive standout. White had 120 tackles and 11 for a loss as a senior, the cap on a strong South Pointe career.
“I liked the fact that it wasn’t as big, it’s more family-based, and they’ve got a good program down there,” said White.
Knowing people already at the school (former and current South Pointe teammates) will only ease White’s college transition.
“I can go down there and be myself and see familiar faces,” said White, who is an A/B student and plans on majoring in either criminal justic or psychology.
Adam Foxx, North Greenville - North Greenville is kind of off by itself in the outskirts of Greenville, which Foxx liked, and it’s faith-based university, which Foxx also liked. He’ll play defensive tackle for the Crusaders’ football team.
“That’s where I think I can stand out the most,” said Foxx, who woke up excitedly at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. “It’s not too crazy so that I get lost.”
Foxx was a central part of three state titles at South Pointe. He’ll study either sports management or criminal justice.
Dwayne Davis, Wingate - Stout linebacker is headed just over the North Carolina border to Division II Wingate University to play football.
“When I took a visit up there, it just made me want to come back,” Davis said. “I felt like I fit in with the program.”
Davis and the other South Pointe seniors signing Wednesday won 53 of the 57 games they played in during high school. So joining a winning program was important for Davis. He’s an avid graphic designer in his spare time and plans on majoring in graphic art at Wingate.
Jackson Chappell, Newberry - Shrine Bowl pick opted for Newberry’s football program over Wingate and a few other Division I preferred walk-on offers. Chappell played center and was the centerpiece of a very strong South Pointe offensive line this season. He plans on studying either business or sports management at Newberry.
Chappell, who has a 4.13 GPA, said he felt wanted by the Wolves’ coaching staff.
“The coaches have always been there supporting everyone, but it was constant communication,” said Chappell.
Four football players off 15-0 Chester state championship team sign
Pha’leak Brown, Illinois State - Standout Cyclones running back selected Illinois State because he liked the campus and the friendly people there. He added that the coaches told him he would have a chance to play early.
“I want to major in business and concentrate on accounting,” said Brown. “I liked the business school, and the coaches were very good to me on my visit there.”
Brown played football and basketball for the Cyclones. He played varsity football for four years. He was a running back and a defensive back.
Dorrien Bagley, Catawba - Ballhawk in the Cyclones’ defensive secondary chose Catawba because it was close to home and had a family atmosphere on campus.
“I plan to major in business and concentrate in marketing,” said Bagley. “I really liked the business school there, and the coaches showed me a lot of love on my visit.”
Bagley played football and basketball for Chester, including four years of varsity football.
Zion Mills, Community Christian College - Mills picked the new two-year school based in Lancaster because it was close to home, and he felt that since it was new program he could have a chance to play early.
“I would like to major in construction, and I really liked the program they have there for that major,” said Mills. “The coaches are really good, and I think it will be a good fit for me.”
Mills played football and ran track for the Cyclones. He played varsity football for three years, lining up at receiver and defensive back.
Emmanuel Wright, Barton - Wright, nicknamed “Bubba,” selected Barton because he liked the small campus and the friendly atmosphere.
“I want to major in sports management, and I am looking to possibly get into coaching,” said Wright. “The coaching staff there was very high on my ability, and because it is a new program, I will enjoy being in on the ground floor.”
Wright played football, basketball, soccer, and ran track for Chester. He played varsity football for three years. He played defensive back and running back for the Cyclones.
- Sam Copeland
Nation Ford Signing Day focuses on six
Gretchen Fischer, Clemson - Fischer has played volleyball for Nation Ford for four years, but it is the sport of rowing that is going to help get her through college. Fischer said she wanted to go to a “big” school for volleyball, but it didn’t work out that way, so she is turning to rowing.
“Since I got the opportunity to row at Clemson, I thought it was a better opportunity,” Fischer said.
Fischer was part of Nation Ford’s 5A state volleyball championship in November and plans on majoring in architecture or design.
Shaman Alston, Wingate - Alston is in his second year at Nation Ford after spending his freshman and sophomore years at Indian Land. He had offers from St. Leo University, Francis Marion University and Lenoir-Rhyne University, but opted for nearby Wingate over all of them.
“It is a really good fit for me and it is not too far from home,” he said.
Alston is a 1,000-point scorer in his career and is averaging 12 points a game for the Falcons, along with 5.7 rebounds and 3.5 assist per game. He plans on majoring in accounting.
Carson Carruthers, Erskine - Carruthers looked at Methodist University as well for football, but liked the idea of putting his mark on a new football program like that at Erskine College.
“They gave me the opportunity to keep playing,” he said. “They are going to be a startup program and I like that.”
Carruthers, who played QB at Nation Ford, plans on majoring in business.
Dewuan McCullum, North Greenville - McCullum had originally committed to the University of Texas-San Antonio, but after further consideration decided the Long Star State school wasn’t for him. He reopened his search after football season and settled on North Greenville University.
“It is close,” he said. “It is a whole lot closer. It is a good environment and it is a good fit for me.”
McCullum played for the North team as part of the North/South All-Star game in December. McCullum split time during his high school career playing receiver, quarterback and running back, but is best known for his hands at receiver as he amassed more than 1,200 total yards in his career. He is undecided on a major.
Dylan Tindall, Lander - Tindall will wrestle at Lander and plans on becoming a veterinarian. He looked at going to Presbyterian and Spartanburg Methodist, but liked what he saw at Lander.
“After I went to the school and toured it and talked with the coach, I knew that is where I wanted to go,” Tindall said.
Tindall said that he probably will be wrestling at 141 pounds in college, up from 132 pounds where he wrestles at now. He has 133 career wins at Nation Ford and can eclipse the school record of 135 career wins at the Upper State individual tournament Feb. 15-16.
Hogan Drane, Grace College - Drane is headed to Grace College in Indiana to continue his baseball career. He looked at Montreat, North Carolina Wesleyan and Lander, but liked the environment at Grace.
“It was a strong Christian school and has a family atmosphere,” he said. “That sold it for me.”
Drane will be concentrating on one thing at Grace and that is pitching. He has been pitching for Nation Ford for four years and is used primarily in that role. He plans on majoring in sports management.
- Mac Banks
York sending five Cougars to college sports
Five York Cougars were recognized during a ceremony in the school’s media center on Wednesday afternoon.
Ramsay Green, Southern Wesleyan - Green had visions of playing big-time college basketball until she tore her ACL as a sophomore at York. The injury may have altered the level she could reach but didn’t deter her overall dream, which she achieved Wednesday by signing with NCAA Division II Southern Wesleyan. She wants to major in biology and enter the sports physical therapy field, with which she unfortunately has a lot of experience because of her knee.
An honors student, Green was drawn to Southern Wesleyan’s faith-based mission.
“That was very important to me,” she said. “That was kind of the deciding factor.”
Abbey Baker, Limestone - Baker picked Limestone over life as a normal student at College of Charleston. That’s because the Saints offered Baker the chance to play college volleyball, a chance she didn’t pass up.
“I didn’t know if it was gonna work out,” Baker said, “so when the volleyball coach at Limestone reached out to me, I was really excited.”
Baker has a 5.1 GPA -- no, that is not a typo -- and plans on majoring in business.
“I’m not sure what I want to do yet,” she said. “I’m going into business just to kind of figure out what I want to do.”
Cam Steele, Newberry - Once Steele puts on about 20 or 30 pounds, watch out. The outside linebacker/defensive end plans to do precisely that at Newberry once he steps on campus.
“Everybody was nice, I liked the coaching staff and I feel like it had the best opportunity to set me up, outside of football,” said Steele, who weighs about 190 pounds currently.
Steele has a 3.5 GPA and plans on majoring in elementary education, part of the reason he picked Newberry over football opportunities at UNC-Pembroke, Erskine and Johnson C. Smith. Steele wants to teach and coach after he finishes college.
Jay Jay McNeal, Newberry - McNeal and Steele plan to room together at Newberry. McNeal will play either linebacker or safety for the Wolves, and it’s fair to say he was excited to get a chance to play college football.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m about a 15,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
Averett, Ave Maria, Culver-Stockton and even Hampton were some of the schools that looked at McNeal, who has a 3.7 GPA and wants to major in accounting. He opted for Newberry because of the “great campus, people are real friendly, the food. It was the best choice.”
Lane Towery, North Greenville - Towery said the goal is to be a four-year football starter at North Greenville. The hulking offensive tackle picked the Crusaders over Concord University (W.Va.), Minot State (N.D.), and a preferred walk-on spot at Clemson.
“Had a great relationship with the coaching staff the entire time,” said Towery. “I know a bunch of guys that play there. Made the decision pretty easy.”
Towery has a 4.12 GPA. He’ ll enroll in the dual degree program that North Greenville has in conjunction with Clemson and will result in him earning mathematics and civil engineering degrees.
Five Lancaster Bruins headed to college football
Four Lancaster High School players signed Wednesday afternoon to play college football.
North-South all-star offensive lineman Jalen Tatah is headed to Wingate, while the star QB he paved the way for, Kemarkio Cloud, signed with North Greenville.
First team All-Area safety Jaelan Harfield is headed to Erskine to join the Flying Fleet in their first year of football at the school since it relaunched its program, and speedy receiver Zach Truesdale will play college ball at the University of the Cumberlands, located in Kentucky.
Clover receiver makes his decision
Clover wide receiver Heze Massey signed with South Carolina State’s football program, after making his commitment over the weekend.
Juco players sign with four-year schools
Ali Shockley, Hampton - Shockley starred at Ellsworth Community College this past season, earning All-American honors from the NJCAA. The former Northwestern Trojan signed with FCS-level Hampton University on Wednesday where he’ll play in the Pirates’ secondary.
Trae’von Hinton, West Georgia - Hinton, another former Northwestern Trojan, spent the 2018 season at Eastern Arizona. He signed Wednesday with Division II West Georgia. Hinton will play middle linebacker for the Wolves, who have a strong program based in Carrollton, Ga.