National Signing Day 2016 roundup

Aiken High's Austin Schofield and Cameron Counts comitted to play college football at South Carolina State and Georgia Prep Academy, respectively, Wednesday morning. Front row, from left, are Counts' father, Leon Counts, Cameron Counts, Schofield's mother, Pamalia Schofield, and Austin Schofield. Back row, from left, are Aiken head coach Brian Neal and Schofield's father, Herbert Schofield. Not pictured is Cameron Counts' mother, Myra Counts. (Staff Photo by Nick Terry)

Several area football players will be signing letters of intent to play at colleges around the nation. Check back throughout the day for updates.

Aiken High’s Austin Schofield and Cameron Counts finalized their plans to play football at the next level Wednesday morning when the pair of linemen committed to South Carolina State and Georgia Prep Academy, respectively.

“It feels great to be able to play at the next level after high school,” Counts said. “You get one more chance at a shot to make it to the NFL. It’s a dream come true to be able to play at the next level.”

“It feels good to have somewhere to go next August and have somewhere to play football; it’s not over,” Schofield said. “I’ve always waited for National Signing Day since I was real young and now I’m doing it.”

Schofield said he plans to major in sports medicine, while Counts said he will focus his studies on mechanical engineering.

JOHNSTON — A trio of Strom Thurmond Rebels made their college choices official on Wednesday morning. Chad Gilchrist and DeAndre Ryan signed up to play football for South Carolina State and Presbyterian College, respectively. Each had made a verbal commitment to the schools last month.

Gilchrist, who was the team’s leading rusher at running back and led the teams in sacks from the defensive end position as well, will most look forward to getting a shot at potentially playing defense for the Bulldogs. Ryan was the teams’ leading receiver and chose the Blue Hose over the Bulldogs.

Softball star Brice Brown signed a letter of intent to play at Florence-Darlington Technical College, where she hopes she can go and make an immediate impact in center field.

“This has always been a dream of mine,” Brown said. “I’ve been playing softball since I was 5 years old, and now that it’s actually here I can’t be more excited.”

MONETTA — In the midst of family, friends and administrators Wednesday morning, Ridge Spring-Monetta’s William Bedenbaugh committed to play football at Newberry College when he signed his National Letter of Intent.

He will be going to the school as a walk-on.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s what every kid dreams about really,” Bedenbaugh said. “It’s a humbling experience and it’s awesome.”

Ridge Spring-Monetta head coach Kenny Lipsey added, “William is a leader on and off the field, and I’m just proud he got the opportunity to sign with Newberry today. I think his work ethic and his determination will help him go a long way.”

PETTICOAT JUNCTION ­— When Coastal Carolina makes the move to the Sun Belt conference and FBS football next year, Silver Bluff’s Tarron Jackson will be making the jump with it.

The defensive end signed a letter of intent to play football for the Chanticleers on national signing day. Jackson was one of the leaders along a defensive line that helped lead Silver Bluff to that Class AA state championship game. He was selected to the North-South All-Star game and a member of the All-Aiken Standard first team in his senior season.

“All my work is paying off,” Jackson said. “It’s a great school, and I’m just ready to go to work up there.”

A quartet of senior leaders from South Aiken High School football team is headed to college. Wide receiver Zalair Knowles will attend Johnson C. Smith University, Bowen Smith is headed to Pikeville and Sojourn Gartrell and Jared Butler signed with Butler Community College and Hutchinson Community College, respectively.

Smith was one of the more accurate passers in the area this year, and led the area in passing yards as a junior. Gartrell was the leader of the defensive line, and Butler was the same for the Offensive line. Knowles was moved to receiver for his senior season and saw an increase in playing time.

NORTH AUGUSTA — Four North Augusta High School defensive standouts are moving on to the next level.

Rashad Byrd, Aaron Maddox, Joe Mozone and Jaylon Patten all signed their National Letters of Intent Wednesday to Georgia Southern, Western Carolina, Valdosta State and Iowa Central Community College, respectively.

According to North Augusta head coach Brian Thomas, Byrd received 16 offers. The two-time reigning Aiken Standard Defensive Player of the Year did it all for the Yellow Jackets this season on both sides of the ball, and he will take his talents to Statesboro.

“It really felt like home when I went,” Byrd said. “Really great atmosphere and loved all of the new coaching staff; met all of them and it was good. There were a couple of kids I played with at the Shrine Bowl, I spent a week up there and three of them committed and it was a really big factor when I was making my decision.”

One of those commitments was offensive lineman Drew Wilson of Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

“Drew, yeah man, that’s my buddy,” Byrd said. “Me and him played together. We had our little fights at the Shrine Bowl, but it was all good at the end.”