Evans High School senior Steven Rogers signs a letter of intent to attend East Carolina University on a football scholarship. Behind Steven are Coach Dave Machovec (from left), Dick Machovec, grandfather, Kim and Steven Rogers, parents, and Evans coach Ed Chomskis.
Photo by Jim BlaylockNational Signing Day arrived with much fanfare last week, and for five Columbia County high school seniors, Wednesday's ceremonies could be have been summed up with a song.
As the five signees made things official, you could almost hear James Taylor signing, "In my mind I'm going to Carolina..."
Augusta Christian's Trey Pitts, David Nelson and Scott Brantley are bound for the Palmetto State to play football, as is Greenbrier's Ben Tankersley, while Steven Rogers of Evans is headed to a college gridiron in Tarheel country.
Pitts and Tankersley both signed letters-of-intent to attend Presbyterian College on football scholarships. The will play for the Blue Hose, a Division II squad from Clinton, S.C.
AC's Nelson and Brantley, meanwhile, will be teammates again at the Division II level, as both sealed deals with North Greenville (S.C.) College.
And at a ceremony in the Evans High media center, Rogers joined the Division I ranks when he signed to play at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C.
Rogers was the most heavily-recruited senior in Columbia County. The wide receiver drew attention from several college programs, and University of Kentucky made a late offer, but he stuck with East Carolina.
"They have a big-time program and a big-time schedule. It will be competitive, and that's the thing I love," Rogers said. "Hopefully I'll get to play right away. I will have to work real hard and give it my best shot."
By signing to play for the Pirates, Rogers capped a rapid rise in the sport. He had never played organized football until his sophomore year, then posted the best receiving numbers of any area player during his junior and senior seasons.
"I'm still new to the game," he said. "Hopefully, I'll become really, really good when I get to college."
Tankersley made his mark as a placekicker for the Wolfpack. His reliable and accurate right leg lifted Greenbrier to several victories the last four seasons, and Pack coach Mickey Derrick expects him to do the same in college.
Augusta Christian coach Bruce Lane shakes Scott Brantley's hand after his signing ceremony at the school. David Nelson (seated, left) and Trey Pitts (seated, right) also signed scholarships. The student's parents are in the backghround.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"We know that he will do very well at PC," Derrick said.
Tankersley may be able to make an early impact for the Blue Hose.
"It's a great school with a great education program and a good football program, but they only have one kicker," Tankersley said. "Everywhere else I talked to had two or three. By signing with Presbyterian I only have to compete with one other guy for a starting position."
Augusta Christian's three signees helped lead the Lions to a Region 1-AAA title last season. Pitts (linebacker and offensive line) and Nelson (placekicker) were all-region selections, and Brantley (linebacker) recovered from any injury help spark AC's title run.
"Playing college football is a dream I've always had," Brantley said. "It's great that I'll get to continue playing football. I'm excited about it."
During his senior season, Nelson recorded touchbacks on 62 percent of his kickoffs, and has hit field goals from 60 yards in practice. Now he's ready to unleash his power for the Crusaders.
"The coaches there say I could start, so that's what I'm planning on doing," he said. "I just want to keep improving and maybe go on to a bigger college later on."
Pitts started on both sides of the ball during his prep career, but will focus on linebacker at PC.
Although the recruiting process can be a pressure-packed time for high school seniors, Pitts didn't suffer through any sleepless nights.
"It's been an easy decision. The coaches were real nice, I like the campus and they have a good team," he said. "I'll probably be redshirted next season, but I'd like to start playing in the near future."
Before the ink was dry on National Signing Day, AC coach Bruce Lane could see the writing on the wall.
"I think all three of them have a fantastic opportunity to go on to the next level and continue their success," Lane said. "They have all the intangibles, they're hard workers and they're very talented. You put those things together and you'd have to believe that their future is extremely bright."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.