Wednesday was National Signing Day, and it was a busy day across Columbia County, with athletes committing to colleges for more than just football.
After leading the Lions to their first undefeated season and the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA state title, Tyler Roberson had the spotlight to himself Wednesday.
In a room crowded with family and friends, Roberson signed his letter of intent to play for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Roberson, who made his decision quickly after visiting the school Dec. 1, wasn’t nervous, just excited to be signing.
“Now they can say that Tyler Roberson is a UT Moc, and it’s exciting to hear those words in a sentence,” said Roberson, who accounted for more than 3,000 yards of offense and 42 touchdowns this past season.
Playing in the Southern Conference, the opportunity is there for those close to him to see him play.
“That was another reason,” said Roberson, “It’s still three and a half hours if you don’t hit too much traffic. I wanted my family to be able to watch me play. And my friends. With Georgia Southern being down the road and us playing there, it’s huge.”
It was a momentous day for Austin Ledoux and his family when he signed his letter of intent to play for Division III LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.
“I’m very proud of him, said Ledoux’s mother, Beverly Riffe. “He’s one of the first ones in the family to go to college.”
It didn’t take long for Ledoux, a Region 3-AA All-Region second team selectee and All-Columbia County honorable mention linebacker, to make up his mind after seeing the school two weeks ago.
“After the visit I really liked it and I knew it was the place for me to go,” said Ledoux, who plans to study exercise science. “I really liked the coaching staff and everything they’re about.”
In his senior season, Ledoux had 73 tackles, including six for loss, and two fumble recoveries, and also rushed for 454 yards.
“He played real well for us,” Harlem head coach Jimmie Lewis said. “He didn’t have the greatest size but he played real big for us. I think he’ll do an excellent job for them.”
After a school visit three weekends ago, other schools fell by the wayside for Lakeside’s Alec Leeseberg, who signed with the Division III Berry College Vikings.
“Basically every college since then I’ve been comparing to Berry,” Leeseberg said. “When I found myself doing that I realized I fell in love with the college. It made it clear to me what college I wanted to go to.”
Leeseberg, 2012 All-Region 2-AAAAA first team and named to the All-Columbia County first team at linebacker, will head to Mt. Berry, Ga., to be a part of the Vikings’ inaugural season this fall.
“They don’t have a football team yet and I’m really excited about being able to start a brand new program, start new traditions,” Leeseberg said. “Also the possibility of me starting right away is great.”
Academics were a big draw as well.
“They offer a great three-two engineering program, so I’ll be able to attend Berry for three years and get a physics degree and then I’ll go to Georgia Tech for two years and get an engineering degree,” he said.
Lakeside head coach Jarrett Troxler had no doubt that Leeseberg would be able to excel in both arenas.
“He’ll tackle his goals athletically and academically,” Troxler said.
For the second consecutive year a pair of longtime best friends from the Greenbrier girls soccer team signed with the same college. In 2012 it was Bay Daniel and Carly Ray heading to South Carolina. Wednesday it was Emily Ludwig and Katie Belser signing with Division II Limestone College (Gaffney, S.C.).
Ludwig, a 2012 All-Region 2-AAAA first teamer, wasn’t nervous.
“I’m kind of like signing four years of life away, but I’m excited,” Ludwig said.
It was different for her mother, Kathy Larrabee.
“Her signing is outstanding, it’s going to make me cry,” said Larabee. “She’s worked hard and set high goals for herself.”
Ludwig liked the environment at Limestone.
“Everybody was so supportive and nice and encouraging,” she said. “I did look around at other schools but I didn’t really see any other school I liked as much. I kind of just fell in love with Limestone.”
While not overlooking the upcoming season for the Lady Wolfpack, Ludwig was thinking about what’s ahead at the college level.
“I’m ready,” Ludwig said. “I’m just nervous about preseason and running. It’s going to be hard, a lot of work.”
Signing day was a collision of nerves and relief for Belser, who wants to be a physical therapist.
“I’m a little bit nervous,” Belser said. “This is a big deal. It’s just finally happening. I’m committing to a college I’ll be attending the next four years of my life.”
Ludwig committed to Limestone before Belser did in April, and that helped influence her.
“She (Ludwig) did help me a lot with my decision,” said Belser, who received 2012 Region 2-AAAA honorable mention. “I’d been looking at Georgia Southern, USC Aiken, but I don’t know, Limestone really stuck out for me and the fact that one of my best friends from elementary school would be going there with me also really helped me with it.”
The staff did a good selling job also, she said.
“The coaches really convinced me, talked about how great their program is going to be, and I just got really excited about it,” Belser said.
Kendrick thinks she has what it takes to succeed playing in college.
‘‘She’s a good girl with a good work ethic,“ said Kendrick. “She’ll do great at the next level.”
Girls lacrosse defenseman Hannah Hutto signed to play for Division III Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga. Hutto is the Lady Wolfpack’s second lacrosse player to sign with a college in the program’s six-year history and will be a part of Piedmont’s second season next year.
Hutto liked the fact that Piedmont was just establishing a program.
“I think I’ll have a lot of opportunities to be a starter and help the team out a lot just like I did when I came here because we were very new at Greenbrier, too,” she said.
Piedmont had a few other things going for it, like being 20 minutes from her brother Matthew at North Georgia College and State University and having what she wants to study.
“They have athletic training and that’s what I’m majoring in,” Hutto said.
Head coach Mark Leszczynski thought her signing was awesome.
“She’s worked hard since being a freshman when she discovered she liked being a defenseman,” said Leszczynski.
Following Alan Trout-man, boys lacrosse defenseman Phillip Yount became the second Wolfpack player in as many years to ink a letter of intent to play for NAIA Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Ga., which begins its first season this spring.
Troutman, who is the team’s starting goalie, was there for Yount’s signing.
“You’re not going to find a much better kid,” said Troutman. “They don’t get much better than him.”
Yount, who began playing three years ago, caught the eye of coach Patrick Johnson, who was looking at Troutman last year.
“Over the fall I was talking to them by email and then we got invited up for an open house to practice with them,” Yount said. “Then I played pretty well I guess and I got a couple of calls from them and we set this up.”
Johnson liked Yount’s transformation.
“He’s worked hard to get better,” said Johnson. “I was floored when I saw him on the field in the fall.”
The location was a plus.
“It’s mostly just a small town,” said Yount, who is interested in becoming a kinesiology major. “I don’t really like big cities and plus I’m about an hour and a half away from where I go hunting on the weekends.”