NORTH AUGUSTA — Devin Grimes, Trey Morgan and Parker Collins celebrated a major leap forward Wednesday afternoon, confirming their commitments to play football at the next level – Grimes at Benedict College, Morgan at Western Carolina University and Collins at Appalachian State University.

The North Augusta High School seniors represent a program that went 44-10 during their years at the high school and came within a few yards of a playoff win on the road against Greenwood, the squad that won the 2012 Division II AAAA title.

“It was a real good, special day, signing with my best friends,” Grimes said. “We grew up together.”

Collins, now listed at 6-foot-3 and 290 pounds, chose the Mountaineers from among 12 scholarship offers. He said he expects to play right guard, having been a right tackle in high school.

“I’m moving to the inside a little bit, but it’s not going to be a big transition, I don’t feel.”

Collins has “always been a really dedicated, hard worker that just loves the sport of football,” in the words of Daniel Pippen, a senior who served the Jackets as a wide receiver. “He’s always a good sport, and always has a good personality on and off the field.”

Collins said he liked the feel of the ASU campus and anticipates the chance for playing time. “Right now, they’ve got two walk-ons ahead of me, so I’ll be given the opportunity to go up there and put myself to the test.”

Collins said he aims to study nursing and pursue a career as a nurse anesthetist.

He noted that he expects to get playing time against Morgan, since ASU and WCU are both members of the Southern Conference. Also part of the mix is The Citadel, where former Yellow Jacket standout Vinny Miller is now a first-year cadet.

“It’s going to feel pretty good to compete against some of my former teammates,” said Morgan.

He’s listed at 6-0 and 175 pounds. He plans to serve as cornerback, and said he will probably study business management or mechanical engineering.

Morgan, who also considered the Air Force Academy, said the Catamount coaches were candid in their communication.

“They told me there’s a chance I could come in and play, but I’ll have to go in and work hard.”

Grimes said he’s looking to serve the Tigers as a defensive back, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner. He now measures about 5-9 and 175 pounds.

An official visit to Benedict was an eye-opener, he recalled. “I was interested in Newberry College and Elizabeth City, up in North Carolina, but an official visit to Benedict really grabbed my attention. They told me I’d start as a freshman.

“It just felt like a good atmosphere.”

Brandon Abbott, an assistant coach who guides the Jackets’ defensive backs, described Grimes and Morgan as “both extremely hard-working.”

He added, “They’re going to do what you teach them to do, and they’re going to do a lot of film study. That’s the thing with those two. They watch a lot of film and they really dove into what they had to do each week. There wasn’t a lot of teaching as the season went on, because they did a lot of their learning from watching the film.”

Dan Pippin, North Augusta’s head coach, noted that his 2012 squad faced a major challenge in terms of dealing with the loss of the previous year’s seniors.

“We were obviously real, real worried, and had not very many kids coming back that had started, and the way that everybody stepped up and played, we got better throughout the year.”