NORTH AUGUSTA — Caree Collier and nine of his teen neighbors were guests of honor at a Wednesday celebration at North Augusta High School, as they confirmed their commitments for at least the next couple of years, with help from collegiate athletic scholarships.
The Yellow Jacket standout, one of the CSRA's most prominent football players, has Statesboro, Georgia, on his radar, to play for Georgia Southern University. He served mainly as a linebacker and also saw time as a running back.
He was one of six football players – and 10 athletes overall – who sat down to put pen to paper, facing a bank of cameras and microphones, with dozens of family members, coaches and other well-wishers in attendance.
"What makes us most proud is when any of our student-athletes goes to the next level," said Brad Siverhus, president of the North Augusta Yellow Jacket Club. "Our coaches do an unbelievable job of getting the kids prepared for the next level."
"We're very talented and I'm just proud of all us for getting it done," said signer Logan Jeffcoat, a baseball player now committed to Augusta University.
Brian Thomas, the Jackets' athletic director and head football coach, confirmed that "a few more" Yellow Jackets are on track to sign in the weeks ahead, with football, volleyball and girls' soccer possibly in the mix. The total of signers during the 2017-18 academic year was about 27, he said.
Joining Collier as football honorees were Lamarcus Moore (defensive back with occasional duty at running back), who is heading for Newberry College; and a quartet bound for Ramah Junior College in Rock Hill: Junius Walker (receiver), Jackson Cook (defensive lineman), Devon Magwood (offensive lineman) and Noah Wright (offensive lineman).
"They're excited about the opportunity and we're excited for them," said Thomas. He described Ramah as a new program and said the Rams' athletic program provides a nice option for his players in terms of not having to travel hundreds of miles for the chance to play at the next level.
Thomas noted that Wright, Magwood, Cook and Walker have arranged to have an apartment together as they work their way into the Rams' pigskin program.
Thomas also pointed out that Collier already has an acquaintance in Georgia Southern's football program, in the form of Rashad Byrd, a 2016 North Augusta graduate who plays linebacker for the Bulldogs.
The Yellow Jackets had a pair of baseball players confirming their plans to keep the game going: Jeffcoat, an infielder heading for Augusta University; and D.J. Sullivan, an outfielder on course for Florence-Darlington Technical College.
Acoya Payte is a rare specimen, as North Augusta High School's second-ever wrestler to get a collegiate scholarship. She is planning to compete for Limestone College in Gaffney. She grappled at the 126-pound level and placed third among females at the state tournament (the title eventually went to teammate Day'Lyn McKinnis, a sophomore).
Pate's predecessor, as the program's first-ever North Augusta wrestler to bag a college scholarship, is Taylor Cooks, who is now competing for Life University in Marietta, Georgia.
Track and Cross-Country
One of Aiken County's fastest females is heading for Darlington County. Destiny Ingram has Coker College looming large on her horizon, with plans to run for the Cobras in both cross-country and track. Her track duties, she said, will include the 400 and 800 meters and also the 4X400- and 4X800-meter relays.