We’ve made it to every college signing ceremony our bare-bones staff could manage, but we couldn’t be everywhere because student-athletes all over the Lowco have been making their college plans official in the past week.
Here’s a look at more of the Lowco standouts who have recently signed to compete at the next level.
Trio of THA football stars sign
Three defensive standouts from Thomas Heyward’s three-time defending SCISA 1A champion football team solidified their college plans at a signing ceremony at the school.
Star linebacker Brandon Howard headlined the list, honoring his commitment to Charleston Southern, which happens to be Rebels coach Nic Shuford’s alma mater and the site of THA’s last two state titles. Howard put together a sensational senior season at THA, racking up 123 tackles (77 solo) with an incredible 19 tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups, and five interceptions for a defense that allowed 7.3 points per game. He was underrecruited, likely because he’s a shade under 6 feet tall, but he should be capable of making an impact for the NCAA Division I FCS Bucs in fairly short order.
Howard had plenty of help from edge rusher Cameron VanGeison and defensive lineman Preston Hamilton, who also signed their letters of intent — VanGeison with Erskine and Hamilton with Limestone.
VanGeison was a force coming off the edge for the Rebels, compiling 91 tackles (35 solo) with 12 tackles for loss, and five sacks. The Flying Fleet list VanGeison as a defensive lineman, and at 6-2 and 200 pounds, he has room to add bulk to his frame and gain speed and strength and should be a solid contributor at the NCAA Division II level.
Hamilton was a key cog on both sides of the line, helping pave the way for a dominant rushing attack and serving as a versatile weapon in the defensive trenches. He compiled 67 tackles (34 solo) with a team-high 21 tackles for loss and seven sacks plus a fumble recovery. At 6-2 and 280 pounds, he has the size to be an impactful interior lineman in NCAA Division II, and as he adds strength he could become a defensive leader for the Saints.
Two Warriors ink scholarships
Despite plenty of overtures from other Power 5 programs, Whale Branch star lineman Xavier Chaplin stuck by his longtime commitment to Virginia Tech and signed to play on the offensive line for the Hokies next season, while teammate Joseph Hicks signed with NCAA Division II Limestone.
Chaplin was a monster in the trenches for the Warriors, leading an offensive line that paved the way for one of the most potent rushing attacks in Class 1A with Hicks leading the charge on the ground. At 6-6 and 315 pounds, Chaplin is the rare high school offensive lineman who has the physical profile to play right away at the Power 5 level, and he will only solidify his massive frame and improve his already impressive athleticism when he gets to Blacksburg.
Big-time programs passed on Hicks because his top-end speed doesn’t hit the metrics they seek in a running back, but he is a hard-working playmaker who has a chance to be a star at the D2 level. Hicks racked up 1,129 yards and 19 touchdowns on 97 carries, averaging 11.6 yards per carry and 125.4 per game, and that was only one facet of his contributions to the Warriors. He also collected 47 tackles, 10 for loss, with a sack and two interceptions, and he took two kickoffs to the house. He should be an asset for the Saints.
Bobcats’ Aiken inks with FIU
Bluffton star defensive end DJ Aiken ensured the Lowco connection will continue at Florida International, signing with the Panthers as former Hilton Head High standout Bryce Singleton departs FIU for the NFL Draft.
Aiken saw his stock rise as a sophomore when college recruiters became enamored with his big, athletic frame and potential as an edge rusher. Some big-time programs came calling along the way, but Aiken honed in on a program where he feels he can quickly become a contributor.
Aiken said he picked the Panthers because he liked the hire of former Memphis defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre as FIU’s new head coach and feels he will be a good fit in McIntyre’s defense. FIU touted Aiken’s large wingspan and athleticism in a signing day release and said he is expected to see playing time as a true freshman.
Aiken had a huge senior season, collecting 72 tackles (53 solo) with 20 tackles for loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble.
Creek duo headed to Kansas JUCO
In what could grow into a trend, the pipeline from the Lowco to the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference continued to take shape with Battery Creek defensive standouts Quatrell Livingston and Alvin Black Jr. signing with Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, joining May River quarterback Garvin Douglas (Hutchinson) in the KJCCC.
Livingston was the heart and soul of the Dolphins’ defense, racking up 51 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss, with five sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and interception, and a pass breakup. At 6-2 and 205 pounds with great athletic ability, Livingston projects as a linebacker or edge rusher, and he played both roles at Battery Creek.
Black played on both sides of the line for the Dolphins, but he projects as a defensive tackle or noseguard for the Red Ravens. He is a prototypical run-stopper, measuring at 6-5 and 358 pounds, but he moves well and contributes to the Dolphins’ basketball team along with Livingston.
Livingston and Black will have two seasons of eligibility to hone their skills and seek opportunities to continue their careers at four-year schools.
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