Three area football players made their plans to play at the next level official — and another formalized his next stop — on the first day of the final signing period for the class of 2019 on Wednesday.
High school rivals will become college teammates at Savannah State University, as May River center Gabe Long and Bluffton linebacker Jaylon Thompson both signed with the Tigers, who will make the move from NCAA Division I FCS to NCAA Division II next season.
Long was a first-team All-Lowco pick each of the past two seasons and was the only area player selected for the North-South All-Star Game this season. Thompson was an honorable mention All-Lowco selection as a senior after missing several games due to injury. He was a second-team All-Lowco pick as a junior.
Another May River offensive lineman, left tackle Joe Whiteaker, signed with Presbyterian College. Whiteaker was a second-team All-Lowco pick as a senior.
Former Bluffton standout Shameik Blackshear also made his next stop official Wednesday, signing his paperwork to play at TCU next season as a graduate transfer. The former Bobcat played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where he compiled 34 career tackles and is on track to graduate in May.
The signing period for football continues through April 1 for NCAA Division I schools and through Aug. 1 for NCAA Division II schools.