National Signing Day doesn't officially take place until the spring. However, two Columbia County athletes chose to secure their future as soon as possible.
Evans High School basketball player Matt Clark and Augusta Christian baseball player Josh Whitaker signed to play at The Citadel and Kennesaw State, respectively, on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday was the first day of the early signing period when high school athletes from all sports except football and soccer may commit to a college.
The early signing period will run through Wednesday.
"I could have waited 'til the later signing period, but this is where I wanted to be," Clark said. "I'm going to get a chance to play against some of the best players in the nation, and (Citadel) Coach (Pat) Conroy said I'll have a chance to play as a freshman."
The early commitment also will allow Clark to concentrate on his senior season. The Knights are coming off their best basketball season in school history and have the potential to improve on that mark this year.
"The first advantage is that he knows where he's going to spend the next four years. He doesn't have to worry about that while he's playing his senior year," said Evans athletic director and boys basketball coach Kevin Kenny. "Second, if he does get injured somehow he still has that opportunity to go there."
At Augusta Christian, Whitaker also said he liked the idea of signing on the first day possible, but the three-sport athlete did it for a different reason.
"I just wanted to get it out of the way," Whitaker said. "You hear others complaining about not knowing where they're going to college. Now I can get this out of the way and focus on Laurence Manning."
Whitaker, who signed to play baseball at Kennesaw State, is also a starter on the football team. The Lions faced Laurence Manning in the SCISA state semifinals Friday.
Whitaker won't immediately hit the baseball diamond after football season ends. He's also a starter on the boys basketball team.
"Josh isn't the only three-sport athlete at Augusta Christian, but he excels in all three," Lions baseball coach Craig Johnson said. "He's always doing things to help his team win."
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