As a just reward for productive college careers, a pair of former area football standouts will get the opportunity to make a living at the professional level.
Earlier this week, Myrtle Beach’s T.J. Jones was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to reports. An offensive lineman at Florida A&M, he was a four-year starter for the Rattlers.
Though unable to find a landing spot in the NFL, former Conway standout Cole Watson received the opportunity to earn his keep in the Canadian Football League (CFL).
After auditioning last month for the Toronto Argonauts, he was signed earlier this week to a two-year deal. Training camp for the 2017 football campaign begins May 22.
A four-year letterman at Newberry, he had 49 receptions for 660 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He finished fifth in the all-South Atlantic Conference in receiving yards, notching three 100-yard receiving games en route to being named an all-conference performer.
For his career, he ranks eighth all time in Newberry program history in receptions (115) and 10th in career receiving yards (1,412).
“We are so very proud of Cole and we have always known two things about him, he is a great football and an even better person; that is why he is a success and will continue to be,” said Newberry football coach Todd Knight in a prepared statement.
Region VII-4A baseball honors
In the aftermath of a season that saw it claim the Region VII-4A championship, the Myrtle Beach baseball team saw four players named first team all-region performers.
Among those receiving the all-region nod were Cameron Bodge, Lawson Cribb, Jayce Allen and Jackson Thomas. Sophomore utility man Jonah McElheney was named second team all-region.
Also being honored was longtime Myrtle Beach skipper Tim Christy, who was named Region VII-4A Coach of the Year.
As for the Region VII-4A Player of the Year, league coaches bestowed that honor upon St. James catcher Trystan Freeman. The Sharks junior batted .426 this past season, hitting three home runs while notching 21 RBIs.
Freeman also thwarted five attempts by opposing runners to steal a base.
Among Freeman’s teammates joining him on the all-region team include pitcher Anthony Peck and outfielder Cole Prosser.
North Myrtle Beach also had a strong showing on the all- Region VII-4A team.
Pitcher Cole Gasque, outfielder Taylor Houia and shortstop Chase Hudson were tabbed all-region first team performers. On the second team were Dalton Simpson and Dylan Doolittle, Donald Hansis and Colin Cordera.
St. James shortstop Andrew Leo along with catchers Myrtle Beach’s Davis Goodroe and North Myrtle Beach’s Craig Matta were named honorable mentions.
North Myrtle Beach native earns golf scholarship
Ultimately, the decision to attend IMG Academy in Florida paid off for Madison Elliott.
The North Myrtle Beach native, who attended the sports boarding school for her junior and senior seasons, signed on to play golf at William & Mary last month.
“I can’t wait!” Elliott said in a prepared statement. “I chose William & Mary over other schools because of its reputation, and its academic and athletic successes.”
Currently, she is ranked No. 36 on the South Carolina girls junior golf rankings, and eighth statewide among her peers in the Class of 2017.
Elliott is the daughter of Rick and Leslie Elliott of Little River, and granddaughter of late state Sen. Dick Elliott.
NMB Christian standout makes school history
By signing on with Coker College to play basketball, North Myrtle Beach Christian’s Zachery Fitz became the first male athlete at the school to sign a National Letter of Intent (LOI).
As a senior Fitz was among the state’s top shot blocker, averaging 6.0 blocks per game. His presence was also felt as a rebounder, hauling in a total of 258 for the season (11.2 rebounds per game).
He averaged just shy of 10 points per contest.
▪ Charleston Southern became the second team to seek the services of North Myrtle Beach all-purpose man Tyler Gore, offering the rising senior earlier this week. Gore already has an offer in the bag from Georgia Southern.
▪ Conway basketball standout Jimmy Nichols’ stock continues to rise. Earlier this week, he upped his number of offers to 11 after Arizona State and the College of Charleston confirmed interest in the 6-foot-7 shooting forward.
In addition to those two schools, Nichols is also on the radar of Coastal Carolina, Georgetown, Hofstra, Longwood, Miami, Murray State, Nebraska, Old Dominion and Towson.
En route to being named this past season’s Toast of the Coast boys basketball Player of the Year, Nichols averaged a double-double, scoring 15 points while bringing in 10 rebounds per game.