High School Football

National Signing Day: four local football standouts sign with Power 5 colleges

Joe Ervin wasn’t chasing bigger scholarship offers during his phenomenal five-game stretch to end the 2018 high school football season. He was chasing Stephon Gilmore’s South Pointe career rushing record.

And Ervin got it.

He also got the bigger offer, from Kansas State. Ervin signed with the Wildcats on Dec. 19.

“I knew something was gonna happen,” he said, “but not the Big 12 (Conference).

Ervin ran for 1,964 yards, averaging nine yards every time he touched the ball and scoring 24 touchdowns. He was named Region 3-4A offensive player of the year and earned offensive MVP honors in last Saturday’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl in Myrtle Beach after topping 100 yards rushing and scoring a 17-yard TD run. He finished the season without a fumble, and finished his career with over 3,000 yards rushing.

Ervin was committed to Coastal Carolina since the summer but recently switched to Kansas State after taking a visit to the school in December.

“I was like, ‘oh god, I’ve got Kansas State,’” Ervin said. “I was very excited and took more interest in them.”

Kansas State went through a recent coaching change, legend Bill Snyder stepping aside to be replaced by former North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman. That didn’t really impact Ervin’s decision. Neither did the distance from home.

“Once I got out there, you’d be around the teammates a lot, I became comfortable,” Ervin said.

Ervin was joined Wednesday in South Pointe’s media center by his teammate and friend, Jaylen Mahoney. He signed with Vanderbilt, giving the Stallions Big 12 and SEC signees Wednesday.

“It’s exciting,” said former South Pointe coach Strait Herron. “I hate that Joe’s got to go so far away. I talked to all the larger schools in the southeast and told them that Joe’s got the ability to play anywhere, but thank goodness for Kansas State. And of course Jaylen going to Vanderbilt, I met with coach (Derek) Mason a couple of weeks ago and he sat in my office and they’ve got big plans for Jaylen. They think he can be a contributor pretty early.”

Mahoney made 44 tackles, broke up 10 passes and intercepted four. He was selected to the Shrine Bowl and played well in last Saturday’s 10-10 tie against North Carolina, notching six tackles. He finished his South Pointe career with 10 interceptions.

“I felt like I was pretty done with it, went ahead and signed and sealed my spot,” said Mahoney. “I accomplished a big goal. I feel great and relieved.”

Dec. 19 was college football’s early signing day, a chance for committed prospects to lock up scholarships before the traditional February signing day.

Northwestern’s Fentrell Cypress was another local football standout to sign a national letter of intent Wednesday. Cypress wore a Virginia Tech shirt he received at a Hokies camp, with one key modification: the “Tech” was crossed out. He signed with the Virginia Cavaliers, not Virginia Tech, like many people continually assumed over the last few months.

“That’s why they had to know I was going to Virginia,” said Cypress, who plans on studying business. “I always had to correct them.”

Cypress intercepted two passes and was a Shrine Bowl pick, though he was unable to play in the game because of an injured shoulder. The Virginia native returns home (sort of) in a move that certainly pleased his extended family. His nuclear family is even considering moving back to Virginia to support Cypress.

“I’m very happy to go to this school,” he said. “I wouldn’t choose nowhere else.”

There was a small surprise at Indian Land where Dorian Williams signed with Tulane, not Coastal Carolina where he had been committed for almost his entire senior season. Williams, a thumping 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker/safety, changed his mind last week after visiting Tulane’s New Orleans campus. He’ll graduate from high school this month and enroll in college next month.

“I felt like it was a better school for me,” said Williams. “It’s right below Ivy League, and I really wanted to go Ivy League for my education. It’s a good place you can play football and get a great education.”

Indian Land coach Horatio Blades said a few words to open the signing then handed the ceremony off to Williams, who clearly hadn’t prepared a speech. He rambled for a few moments as his friends and teammates smiled and laughed.

“Should have wrote something down!” a teammate yelled.

“I think my son is just a little overwhelmed,” said Williams’ mother, Angela Mintz-Williams, stepping in and thanking the large group of supporters looking on.

Williams was rarely overwhelmed on the football field this past fall, notching 94 tackles, with 11 for a loss, and two interceptions. He’s also a very strong student and he and his family were thrilled -- just like Mahoney’s family at South Pointe -- to receive a full scholarship to a school with annual tuition costs of around $70,000.

Down at Chester, Wyatt Tunall was a finalist for the Mr. Football award and also a Shrine Bowl selection, though a broken bone in his foot prevented him from playing. The towering offensive lineman helped pave the way for a bruising Chester Cyclone rushing attack, and a 15-0 state championship season. Tunall officially graduated high school this week and will enroll at North Carolina in January.

Oh, and it wasn’t all football Wednesday.

Heather Alverson joined Ervin and Mahoney in South Pointe’s signing ceremony. Alverson first joined the Stallions’ cross county program as a seventh grader, and her running career will continue into college. She signed with Converse College.

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