Just got back from Battery Creek High School, where three seniors signed off on their football futures.
As expected, defensive back Ricky Chaney inked a letter of intent with Clemson after verbally committing there last May, linebacker Spencer Shine signed with Johnson C. Smith University, a Division II school, and defensive back Cleon Wright officially committed to play at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
Chaney said that he will redshirt next season in order to put some more weight on his moldable 6-2, 200-pound frame as well as polish his skills enough to potentially serve as a hybrid safety and linebacker.
"From the first time I visited last year, it was just a great school with a great feeling," said Chaney, who took his official visit to campus two weeks ago. "It's a small football town and I'm from a small town, so I think it's the perfect fit for me."
Chaney's senior stat line wasn't astounding (56 tackles, no turnovers), but his blazing speed and solid frame grant him an upside that Tigers coach Dabo Swinney and his staff believe can be molded into success.
"When you talk about speed and things that are God-given talents, Ricky has those and that's the biggest plus for him," Cave said. "I think he'll get an opportunity at strong safety initially. But with what (Clemson does), I see them moving him in the box some at linebacker."
Speaking of linebacker, Johnson C. Smith just nabbed a potential sleeper in Spencer Shine.
After being moved around at wide receiver and defensive back during the last two seasons, Shine finally found his niche at linebacker midway through the 2009 campaign, recording 103 tackles, a team-high five sacks and a forced fumble.
"I wish he was a junior because he played so well after finding his natural position that I could see him being one of the top prospects next year if he was a junior now," Cave said. "He's a nice kid, but he's ultra-aggressive.
"We could just tell from practice," Cave continued. "When you're lined up as defensive back, you first think backpedal. But if he even thought the other team was going to run, he was already moving up in the box. So we figured, let's just put him at linebacker, where his first step will be downhill, and he just kept making plays."
But what really stuck out to me was how Shine's excitement for playing college football was mirrored -- if not, overshadowed-- by his thrill of going to a school that's developed a solid track record in the engineering field. In this day and age, when the Signing Day hoopla often surpasses what's most important in academics, Shine's attitude was refreshing.
What's more, Cave said that Shine was offered the opportunity to be a preferred walk-on at USC after assistant coach Shane Beamer saw his film. But in the end, the chance to get immediate playing time along with a full scholarship was to hard to bypass
"My senior year, I told everybody that I wanted to be a two-way player and a leader, so I made up my mind not to just talk but actually show these guys how to lead on the field," said Shine, who earned all-region and team defensive MVP honors this year. "If I make it to the league, then great, I do. But if not, I know I'm going to a school that will help me get a nice paycheck in engineering."
The trio was rounded out by Cleon Wright, a lightning-quick defensive back who also saw time at wide receiver recorded 21 tackles, one interception and two touchdowns last year. Wright, who will join former BC track star Martin Jenkins up in Kansas, also said he plans to try out for the track team with ultimate hopes of transferring to a Division I school like the University of South Carolina after his two-year stint in junior college.
"Hutchinson is one of the top JUCO programs in the nation, so it's a good deal for Cleon," Cave said. "The kid can flat out run and being in a place where he'll be nurtured, there's no doubt his stock will increase."