A handful of area football players from various schools are about to become college teammates courtesy of a new in-state NCAA Division II program.
Limestone College, located in Gaffney, is starting the sport in 2014. On Wednesday, Saints coach Bobby James will officially announce his first recruiting class. And it’s apparent he made the Grand Strand a priority.
At least seven and as many as 11 area players are expected to use National Signing Day to officially commit to James’ upstart program.
“A lot of people sort of overlook Myrtle Beach and the caliber of football that is down there,” James said before mentioning the two assistants largely responsible for recruiting the Grand Strand.
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“[Craig] Kerr and [Drew] Anthony have done a great job in the Myrtle Beach area getting the word out. We’re just tickled to know that we’re going to have an opportunity to coach some very fine football players. They’re tremendous young men, and the type of men we want to build our football program around.”
Socastee players will account for as many as three of those commitments. Defensive end Dakota Morgan, linebacker Adam Crane and defensive back Zach Hyde helped the Braves’ to a 12-1 record and the third round of the Class AAA playoffs.
It was the best season in school history, and now those three players are being rewarded from an avenue that wasn’t present a year ago.
“The thing I’m excited about is it gives us more opportunities for our kids,” Socastee coach Tim Renfrow said. “They’ve never had the opportunity to go off and play. The bottom line for these kids is they get a college diploma. They’re going to get a college education, and get most of it paid for.”
The Braves aren’t the only program about to send players to Limestone.
Myrtle Beach linebacker Sean Michael Orcutt, Conway running back Jaquail Crosland, Georgetown quarterback Caleb Hughes and Waccamaw lineman Hunter Brininger are also expected to sign with the school.
Additionally, Georgetown defensive lineman Anthony Blair and receiver A.J. Walker and a number of others are strongly considering Limestone.
“I already know the talent that’s going to be up there,” said Orcutt, the first of the area players to verbally commit to Limestone. “I’m going to have faith in the players.
“It will bring some publicity about Limestone to this area. We’ll be able to show other schools that there are players from Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand area. It shouldn’t be overlooked.”
Crane and Blair were SCADA North-South selections this season; Orcutt led the area in tackles in 2011; Hughes leaves Georgetown with the school’s single-season and career passing records.
James’ Limestone program will become the fourth NCAA Division II team in the state, joining Newberry, Benedict and North Greenville. He hopes to have between 25-30 signees in this initial class. But his recruiting efforts around South Carolina and locally won’t end there. The average size of teams in that division is 109 players, according to NCAA statistics.
He’ll have 36 scholarships at his disposal for 2014. That means next fall, all of this year’s signees will take a redshirt year.
It’s a similar path Coastal Carolina took in 2002, when scores of overlooked high school players and college transfers decided to help the Chanticleers and then-coach David Bennett start the program.
Like Bennett back then, James is giving plenty of credit to the high school coaches helping him along now.
“The overall coaches in South Carolina have just been awesome with their help, understanding we’re behind the eight ball in the whole recruiting process,” he said. “The way they have opened up to us has just been great.
“It’s about getting out there and getting into schools. We’re trying to get into as many places as we can. They understand where our vision is.”