FORT MILL — Although National Signing Day was over a week ago, Fort Mill High took the day to a new level recently committing 12 athletes to college.
The Jackets had a dozen athletes sign to 10 different colleges. The majority of those signing – eight – play football. Two are cross-country/track athletes and two others play baseball and lacrosse, respectively.
Fort Mill quarterback Rylan Wells, 17, committed to Jacksonville University after looking at Concord University in West Virginia and Averett University in Virginia. Wells passed for 1,306 yards for the Jackets and 13 touchdowns while giving up just seven interceptions his senior year.
“I thought it was the best fit for me and I would have the best opportunity to learn and play,” Wells said.
He is undecided on a major but said he would like to become a coach someday.
One of Wells’ linemen, Cooper Clegg, 18, will be heading to Coastal Carolina University and chose it over Wofford College and North Greenville University.
“It was the best situation for me and my family,” Clegg said. “I liked what was going on down there. I wanted to play at a bigger school.”
Clegg plans on majoring in business management or international business.
Another lineman, Chris Norman, 17, did decide to go to Concord University, choosing it over North Greenville and the start-up program at Limestone.
“I wanted to play for a program that was making some noise,” he said. “They have a great facility.”
Norman plans on majoring in accounting.
Norman could have remained a teammate of running back Tony Godbolt, 17, who is going to North Greenville, which he picked over Charleston Southern University and Wingate University.
“The academics are real good and I love the way the coaching staff and the way the program is ran,” Godbolt said.
Godbolt will be listed as “athlete” on the team and could see time in several different positions. He caught 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns as well as rushing for 540 yards on 110 carries. He scored six touchdowns his senior year for the Jackets.
He plans on being a health and wellness major.
Three Fort Mill seniors decided to stick together and will be attending Limestone College as part of its first year football program. Limestone’s first football class will be for the 2014 season and receivers Scott Miller, Malik Taylor and Eric Patterson will get to be a part of that inaugural team. All three played mostly defense for Fort Mill.
“I like the coaches there and what they are doing,” Miller said. “That is what I need.”
Miller, 17, plans on majoring in sports management said that Limestone was the only college he considered.
Taylor, 17, is just as excited about the academic opportunities as he is for what awaits on the gridiron.
“They have that good English program I was looking for,” he said. “I was going there for education purposes, but I never thought I would get the chance to play college football.”
Patterson, 18, said if the football doesn’t work out, he will try to fall back on lacrosse.
“It is an up and coming program and I felt I could be a help to the team,” he said.
Patterson also looked at Wingate University and the UNCC for lacrosse, but said his passion for playing football was more prevalent. He plans on majoring in accounting and marketing.
Another lacrosse player who will be playing in college is Trevor Wylie, 17, who chose Belmont-Abbey College over Wingate University and High Point University.
“I liked how the team had a good bond,” he said. “They had really good players and coaches. They said I could probably start my freshman year.”
Wylie plans on majoring in homeland security.
The two cross-country/track athletes are Emily Lyons, the only female signing in the group, and Christian Ruppe.
Lyons, 17, will be attending Charleston Southern University and said that was the only place she considered because of her plans to major in psychology.
“They have a really good psychology program and I thought I would fit in with their team,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go there.”
Ruppe, 18, won’t be far away as he will attend the College of Charleston after choosing it over Appalachian State University. He plans on majoring in business administration.
“It is pretty much a new program and they [created] a team,” Ruppe said. “I wanted to try to be a part of something that is going to grow.”
The only other college committee in the winter signing period was baseball player Kevin “KJ” Woods, who is using college as a back-up plan. Woods, 17, is banking on getting drafted in the Major League Baseball draft come June, but will be attending Sante Fe College in Gainesville, Fla. if he isn’t selected.
“I felt like they have good people down there,” he said. “I chose the JUCO route if the draft doesn’t go as planned. I am hoping to have a good last high school season.”
Because Sante Fe is a junior college, Woods said he plans on transferring after two years there to play baseball at one of three places – the University of Florida, the University of Miami or the University of South Carolina.
The 12th athlete to sign was football player Kelly Batt, who will be attending Birmingham-Southern College, but didn’t attend the signing ceremony held at Fort Mill High.