A new school year officially began two weeks ago when the calendar flipped from June 30 to July 1. It didn't mean much to most Columbia County residents, but it did mean an increase in attention for some athletes.
All those standout juniors from the 2006-07 season, whether in baseball, football or golf, suddenly became seniors.
Let the recruiting begin.
High school athletes can't officially sign a national letter of intent until the early signing period begins Nov. 8 for all sports except football and soccer (those athletes can't sign until Feb. 7).
Although the athletes can't yet sign, they can make a verbal commitment. That's exactly what Augusta Prep golfer Lee Knox has done. The rising senior verbally committed to the University of Alabama last week.
Knox will be on one of the top golf teams in the country. Under the direction of Alabama head coach Jay Seawell, a former Augusta State golf coach, the Crimson Tide finished the 2007 season ranked No. 4 in the NCAA.
On the line
It's not easy being linemen in the summer. Three Columbia County schools, Augusta Christian, Evans and Greenbrier, participated in weekly 7-on-7 passing camps through June. Lakeside held its passing camp a few weeks ago.
The 7-on-7 format eliminates the full contact associated with the boys in the trenches. Instead, the quarterbacks and receivers get full-time work with no worries of blocking offensive lineman or pass-rushing defenders.
That's good for quarterbacks and their targets. It also helps defensive coordinators and their secondaries.
What about those lineman left on the sideline?
The big boys now have a camp exclusively for them. The Hawgtuff Offensive Line Camp will take place at Westside High School on July 21. Camp director Mike Pope, a former head football coach who won a state championship at Blackville-Hilda High School, said there are enough camps out there for skill-position players but not enough for the linemen.
"That's why I started this," he said. "Most offensive lineman are the guys who get pushed to the side. Maybe they can't run or can't jump or can't catch. That's been changing a little bit, but I want to give them the best instruction possible."
Lakeside assistant football coaches Jon Johnson and Bill Richey will be a part of the staff at the camp, along with former coach and current Evans assistant principal Wayne Baker.
For more information on the camp, go to www.hawgtuff.net.
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