Beginning early this morning and dragging on throughout the day, thousands of high school senior athletes from all around the country will put pen to paper, officially committing to a college on National Signing Day. The pomp and circumstance of televised signings and nationwide headlines won’t include Statesboro, but the Bulloch County area will continue its tradition of sending quite a few stars on their way to the next level.
ESPN might not have any local signees on its radar, but it’s easy to see that our little corner of the state is teeming with athletes ready to contribute after their high school days are over.
Today, a handful of football players from Statesboro High, Southeast Bulloch and Portal will sign on for four more years at the school of their choosing, joining an already impressive senior class of signees from the fall.
Back in October, Claxton’s Michael Peel committed to play baseball for the University of Georgia, following in the footsteps of Metter’s Pete Nagel, who is currently in his freshman year at UGA.
Portal has sent several athletes on to college in the last few years, including Jarrell Robinson, who was part of Georgia State football’s first recruiting class.
Of course, with one of the many colleges pining for recruits right here in town, some of Statesboro’s high school talent is able to remain at home.
After leaving for a year of prep school, Statesboro High’s Eric Ferguson is now supporting the blue and white of Georgia Southern and quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in the Southern Conference.
Trent Doty (Statesboro) and Win Lee (Bulloch Academy) complement the GSU soccer and baseball rosters, respectively, and Southeast Bulloch’s Jamal Johnson is expected to sign on with the football Eagles this morning.
Another sport that has grown heavily in the area over the last few years and is now stocking the collegiate ranks is softball.
Screven County’s Marla Thompson is set to begin her freshman season with the Lady Eagles.
Meanwhile, the new softball program at East Georgia College — which is coached by Swainsboro and GSU alum Jordyn Nail — has been laying its foundation with almost a dozen players from area high schools.
The bottom line is that any sport-loving person living in or around Statesboro should count themselves lucky to be surrounded by such talent. Not only does Georgia Southern provide year-round collegiate athletics, but many of the stars of tomorrow can be found in any sport on high school fields that are only minutes away.
Over the last decade, Georgia has steadily moved up the charts in terms of high school talent that is good enough to be recruited to the next level. The Atlanta area takes a lot of the publicity when this growth is talked about on recruiting websites, but the coastal area of the state is a hotbed for talent in just about every sport imaginable.
To the schools receiving commitments from local players today, congratulations. You are getting some fine students and athletes for the next four years. To those high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors reading this — keep up the hard work.
Those little pieces of paper that are getting signed all around the country today are a remarkable achievement for those doing the signing and pave the way for a bright future.
Plus, having that kind of talent flowing through the ranks every year makes every game more exciting.
For a sports writer like me, that’s a nice job perk.
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.