PETTICOAT JUNCTION — The auditorium at Silver Bluff High School almost wasn't big enough for Thursday's signing ceremony for four senior Bulldogs.
Family, friends, classmates, coaches and other members of the community crammed in close, cell phone cameras flashing for countless photos of the signees – Jarvis Brown (St. Andrews), Jimmie Foreman (Charleston Southern), John Green (Virginia Prep Sports Academy) and Jaybi Holmes (ASA College Miami) – who brought head coach De'Angelo Bryant's total to seven this season.
"It kind of lets you know that the program is headed in the right direction. We can't guarantee that we'll have seven signees a year, but that's our goal and that's always gonna be the goal," Bryant said. "That's one of the promises I made when I came in as the head coach was to be able to try to influence these young men, and also young ladies, to be able to sign scholarships and provide a better life for them and to give them an opportunity.
"Today, what you witnessed is a lot of love. These guys are all family, so that makes it that much better. ... All of them come from really good families, and the community that was also behind them as well is remarkable. You saw four young men who have played pretty much about four seasons of varsity football, so their names are well known around here."
Brown saved his best for last – the first-team All-Aiken Standard linebacker was one of the area's leading tacklers, and he said that St. Andrews, an NAIA member in Laurinburg, North Carolina, felt like the right fit to cap off a recruiting process that mirrored his play on the field.
"It was just getting better and better," said Brown, who wants to study sports management. "I'm trying to go to the next level."
Foreman's decision to sign with Charleston Southern was the happy ending to a process complicated by coaching changes at some of the schools recruiting him. CSU appealed to Foreman because it's not too big or too small, meaning he can go right in and do what he needs to do – plus there's the challenge of playing against Division I opponents, and he's ready and excited for his opportunity.
"I just got all of the stress off of me now," said Foreman, who wants to study criminal justice. "I don't have to worry about other schools trying to contact me anymore. I got the school that I want now – I'm stress-free."
Green was sold on Virginia Prep Sports Academy from the first time he talked about it with a coach. He sees it as an opportunity to go get his grades his order and eventually play major college football – the first-team All-Aiken Standard selection has been among the area leaders in interceptions regardless of where he's lined up in the secondary.
"(The recruiting process) was hard at first," said Green, who wants to study physical therapy. "Then at the end, coaches started coming in, coming in. I just picked the right college for me."
The recruiting cycle was "very crazy" for Holmes, who was unsure of what he wanted to do and didn't sign back in February – and then was told by coaches that they already had what they needed. That drove him to push even harder and see where he could go to improve his game. The former region Offensive Lineman of the Year found a welcoming home at ASA College Miami, a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and took advantage of the opportunity to sign in a packed house alongside some of his closest friends.
"It means a lot. They're my brothers," said Holmes, who wants to study business. "We've played football forever – we've been playing since we were little kids. It's just very good."