After opening the national early signing period with two Columbia County signings last Wednesday, area schools saw four athletes commit to the next level Friday.
Greenbrier's Brandon Cumpton and Jeff Rowland committed to Georgia Tech. Even a typically stone-face Cumpton cracked a smile during the festivities.
"It's tough to get him to show some emotion, so I'm glad we at least got a smile out of him," Greenbrier Assistant Principal Ed Williams said.
Williams retired as baseball coach after last season's squad won the Class AAAA state championship. Rowland and Cumpton were starters on that team. Rowland hit .411 as the starting center fielder and Cumpton went 14-1 from the pitcher's mound. Williams said the duo's contributions went beyond statistics.
Rowland said he and Cumpton will room together at Georgia Institute of Technology. Though a spot on the Yellow Jackets' roster is a guarantee for the teammates, the lure of the Major League Baseball draft is still a reality. The seniors worked out in Atlanta in front of a Major League Baseball scout last weekend. Both will be eligible for the draft in June.
"It's been in my mind since the day I was born, but I want to play in college," Rowland said. "It's a chance for a good education."
ROWLAND AND CUMPTON weren't the only Wolfpack stars to secure a spot on a college roster. Greenbrier softball senior Tiffany Blackburn committed to North Georgia after completing one of the best softball careers in school history.
"She's in the top five without a doubt," Greenbrier softball coach Garrett Black said. "She's leaving with at least nine school career records. She's had a great career, and I had the best seat in the house."
Blackburn finished her senior year with a .390 career batting average with 147 RBI and 17 home runs. No one's come close to breaking her season record .506 batting average that she hit during her sophomore year. She's been a part of four region championships and the 2004 state championship run.
"Looking back, I got to experience some things not many athletes have experienced before," Blackburn said. "The records aren't that important. I don't need that type of reward. The experiences are what's important to me."
AT EVANS HIGH School, Lady Knights senior Aidan Yeager also signed her way to the college ranks. Yeager, a four-year starter on the Evans volleyball team, signed with Jacksonville University.
The senior led the Lady Knights to a first-ever Area 2-AAAA championship and finished the season ranked No. 10 in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA coaches poll.
Though Yeager's future team, the Jacksonville Dolphins, are competing in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., this week, the NCAA D-I competition wasn't the only draw.
"When I took my visit, I liked the town and the college and everything, but the deciding factor for me was the beach," Yeager said.
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