High School Football

Bluffton's nine-member class including Smith, Frazier highlights signing day

Hilton Head Island's Julian, Whale Branch's Delaney, Hilton Head Christian's Williams prominent among signees

mmccombs@islandpacket.comFebruary 6, 2013 

Coach Ken Cribb's football senior class at Bluffton High School has quite a resume.

In three years, it has gone 38-5 with two region championships, three Bridge Bowl championships and three state final fours.

Reflecting its success on the field, Bluffton High School had nine players take part in its National Signing Day ceremony on Wednesday, led by cornerback Anthony Smith Jr. and quarterback C.J. Frazier.

Amid the sea of students, parents and media amassed outside the Bluffton High gymnasium, Smith signed his Certificate of Intent to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy -- the military academies do not take part in the National Letter of Intent Program -- becoming the Bobcats first player to go on to compete on scholarship at a Division I FBS school.

"They'll need to find a bigger place to do this," Smith said. "But this is nothing but a beginning, and it's all because of Coach Cribb."

Smith credited his parents for his success.

"I had good parents," said Smith, who hopes to study pharmacy. "My dad coached high school football for 17 years and everything I learned, I learned from him. As I was a kid, this was something I always said I wanted to do. I'm really excited, I wouldn't settle for less."

Frazier, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette's 2012 Offensive Player of Year, faxed his letter to Newberry at 7:01 a.m., and then took part in the noon ceremony.

His father, Jason, a Hilton Head Island High Hall of Fame quarterback himself, said the early return of the letter was just the start. He said C.J. would be first to practice, first to workouts and first in effort for the Wolves.

"I'm definitely excited," said Frazier, who said he would redshirt if he couldn't play early. "It's the right school for me."

HILTON HEAD ISLAND

The anticipation surrounding quarterback Michael Julian's recruitment has been over for some time now.

The signal-caller chose Toledo over such schools as Wisconsin, Boston College and N.C. State two weeks ago. Ever since then, the 6-foot-5 prospect has been biding his time, patiently waiting to become a Rocket.

"I've worn this (Toledo) hat everywhere," he said, decked out from head to toe in blue and gold.

The transition is becoming easier. Toledo plans to send its new quarterback the weightlifting regimen this week, which will soon follow with the playbook.

"It's definitely going to be a helpful thing for when I go there, so I'm not starting (fresh)," he said. "I'll already have a feel for the playbook and weight room and all that."

The Shrine Bowl quarterback plans to be at the Rockets' Spring Game, too, where he will register for classes and possibly pick roommates.

He's already developed relationships over Twitter with guys like receiver Darryl Richards, whom he hopes to room with. He'll also travel with the team, he said, which means a visit to Florida where he may run into classmate and Gators cross country signee Jack Manesiotis.

"When I go to Florida, I might say what's up to Jack," he said.

He will move in June 26, he said, where he will begin a new chapter in his playing career that he's been so anxious to start.

"It's a great feeling," he said.

WHALE BRANCH

Dee Delaney received a phone call from The Citadel recruiting coordinator J.P. Gunter on Tuesday night, one final affirmation the Whale Branch Early College High School senior was on the Bulldogs' side.

No worries.

Delaney, a standout receiver moving to defensive back in Charleston, faxed his letter of intent early Wednesday. He wants to find out whether he can become a better defensive back than receiver, assuming he doesn't get a shot to line up at wide-out.

"I asked him to give me a little offensive time," Delaney said. "He said he'll see what he can do."

Delaney was joined by linebacker Tyrik Spicer, who will play at Edward Waters, an NAIA school in Jacksonville, Fla. Teammate Trey Nelson was also recognized for earning a spot on Citadel's roster as a walk-on.

The Warriors were recognized on stage during a small assembly Wednesday afternoon. Delaney, surrounded by family, donned a light blue Bulldogs cap.

The senior is the school's first Division I FBS recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent.

"It gives us a sense of pride," Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher said. "We're going to have more. We're going to have a lot more."

Hatcher believes Nelson will eventually earn a scholarship at Citadel, and encouraged Nelson to work on his long-snapping to increase his chances of getting on the field.

Spicer didn't play organized football until his junior year, moved to linebacker from defensive end midway through his senior year and believes he could have made a bigger plash with an earlier start.

Hatcher moved Spicer to linebacker to improve his chances of playing in college. Spicer recorded 17 tackles his first start at linebacker.

"At middle linebacker, I could make plays all over the field," Spicer said.

HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN

Things were much more adventurous at Hilton Head Christian, where Jamario Williams nearly went against his longtime commitment to Wofford while Tyler Chisholm failed to sign with S.C. State.

Williams first pledged to the Terriers back in November and appeared set to sign with the in-state school. But a late push by the U.S. Naval Academy and secondary coach Keith Jones had the cornerback mulling his options until late last night.

"It was a big decision to make," Williams said. "I talked it over with my family and my dad. I loved Navy a lot, but the only thing was they came into the picture a little too late. I felt already at home with Wofford."

It wasn't until 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night that the Eagles defender affirmed his commitment to the Terriers. He called Wofford coaches to inform them of his decision and set those plans in stone with his letter of intent Wednesday morning.

"It was a relief, because it was a lot of decisions to make, going back and forth," said Williams, who added that he will have the opportunity to start at corner as a true freshman. " ... Football is my No. 1 priority, and that was the way to go. I have a better chance of getting on the field at Wofford than the Naval Academy."

Chisholm, meanwhile, made his initial pledge to the Bulldogs last week. But the big-legged kicker decided to hold off on signing until April in order to see what other in-state programs have to offer academically.

"I felt like if I got hurt or something like that I would need something to fall back on," he said. "It's a great school and all, but I'm just looking at top of the line schools."

Chisholm's offer from coach Buddy Pough remains on the table, he said. He may ultimately decide to attend the Orangeburg-based school, but only after looking at other universities.

"I just want to look at all the options on my plate," he said. "South Carolina State is a good school and all, but I just want to look at everything. ... Just understanding the big picture and not just football. Just thinking about education first and football second."

BEAUFORT HIGH

JaClay Mixon waited until he felt certain he had the best deal and then took it.

The Beaufort High School running back, one of the area's leading rushers and a versatile athlete, thinks he was overlooked because of his height. The senior is 5-foot-6. But he's excited to prove his worth at Limestone, a Gaffney school starting a Division II program, with its first season in the fall of 2014.

Mixon made his decision Wednesday morning and signed his letter of intent to join the Saints. He liked the new facilities going up around campus and the chance to start something new.

He and his teammates will redshirt in the fall, leaving them four years of eligibility. The Saints will practice, workout and scrimmage, just like any other program. They'll just have to wait to play an actual game.

Beaufort High offensive lineman Caleb Gee affirmed his commitment to Charleston Southern, signing early Wednesday. Gee waited out a January coaching change and earned an offer from the current Buccaneers staff.

He met the football team during a visit and liked the program's new locker room and plans to build a new weight room. Buccaneers coaches told Gee they like the way he fires off the ball low and powerful.

Gee broke his hand during his senior season, missing three games, and used the time off to work solely on his pass blocking, an overlooked skill in the Eagles' run-first scheme. Other than continuing his pass-block work, Gee feels confident entering his freshman year.

Every weekday, Gee does Olympic weightlifting at Beaufort Middle School. He said the extra work helped him become a more explosive lineman.

"You develop more speed coming off," Gee said. "It helped me fire off and be more aggressive."

Gee plans to study athletic training and minor in music. He's plays guitar during his free time.

BATTERY CREEK

Willie Doe is headed to Newberry.

The Battery Creek defensive end made his commitment official with a signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the school's media center. Doe said last week he liked the small-town feel and quiet atmosphere of the town.

He expects to redshirt his first season and come back stronger, in shape to beat a college offensive lineman. Doe, 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, finished with 107 tackles, 12 for loss, and had eight sacks to help lead the Dolphins to the Class 2-A playoffs and earn a spot on the Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette's All-Area first team.

Doe chose Newberry over an offer from Limestone. He also had interest from Charleston Southern and The Citadel.

He committed to the Wolves after a visit in late January. Newberry coaches had followed his progress since he was a junior.

Battery Creek coach Jim Shuman said Doe had a good understanding of the game, that he should do well at Newberry.

RIDGELAND

Offensive lineman Jac'que Polite told former Ridgeland High coach Richard Kirkland from the time he left for Gray Military Academy in Cayce that he would one day succeed in improving his academics and move on to a four-year school.

He was right. But it didn't come without a lot of hard work.

Polite, who graduated from Ridgeland High in 2011, signed with Division II Missouri Western State on Wednesday after two seasons at Gray.

"I'm more mature on and off the field and I understand the purpose of playing college football," Polite said. "There's a big difference between college and high school football. Some guys in high school are playing just to play."

Polite had to market himself to schools in the fall of 2012, sending out film and letters to more than 200 Division I and II schools.

"It was stressful," said Polite, who is getting a rare full scholarship for a Division II school.

By November and December, when schools really began showing interest, Polite had narrowed his choices to Northern Alabama and the Griffons.

Kirkland, who says he's not surprised Polite made it, says this is what coaching should be about.

"To be able to come back and sit with him and his family," Kirkland said. " I wish we could see more of them."

BLUFFTON

Along with Smith and Frazier, the Bobcats had seven more players take part in the signing day ceremony. Five were Greenville Tech commits -- safety Jaquan Campbell, running back Tykeem Major, cornerback Jeremy Scott, running back Jerry Scott and defensive end Zell Graham.

Jerry Scott, a late addition to the list and brother of Jeremy, rushed for 958 yards and 21 touchdowns last season. He added 610 yards and nine touchdowns receiving.

Graham never played for the Bobcats. He transferred from Strom Thurmond High in the fall but didn't get his eligibility resolved in time to play.

Wide receiver Marquis Webber will attend Gray Military College, while linebacker Kyle Waddell will be part of the first team at NAIA Southeastern.

Coach Ken Cribb said he expected at least three more players to announce college plans in the near future.

AREA FOOTBALL SIGNINGS

Division I

Dee Delaney, WR/DB, Whale Branch -- The Citadel

Caleb Gee, OL, Beaufort High -- Charleston Southern

Michael Julian, QB, Hilton Head High -- Toledo

Anthony Smith, Jr., CB, Bluffton -- Air Force

Jamario Williams, WR/DB, Hilton Head Christian -- Wofford

Division II

Willie Doe, DL, Battery Creek -- Newberry

C.J. Frazier, QB, Blufffton -- Newberry

JaClay Mixon, RB, Beaufort High -- Limestone

Jac'que Polite, OL, Ridgeland -- Missouri Western State

Division III

J.D. Tuten, CB, Thomas Heyward -- Berry

NAIA

Tyrik Spicer, LB, Whale Branch -- Edward Waters

Kyle Waddell, LB, Bluffton -- Southeastern

Junior College

Jaquan Campbell, SS, Bluffton -- Greenville Tech

Zell Graham, DE, Bluffton -- Greenville Tech

Tykeem Major, RB, Bluffton -- Greenville Tech

Jeremy Scott, CB, Bluffton -- Greenville Tech

Jerry Scott, RB, Bluffton -- Greenville Tech

Marquis Webber, WR, Bluffton -- Gray Military College

Note: Only NCAA Division I and II players sign binding National Letters of Intent.

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