Four Easley High Students Sign With Colleges
Joseph Smith, Stephen McKnight, Nick Starling and Spencer Collins all signed this spring to play college ball.
Four star athletes at Easley High School have signed to play college ball.
Coaches at the school commended all four of the young men for their achievements both in the classroom and in their chosen sport.
A signing ceremony was held on Monday at the school for Joseph Smith, Stephen McKnight, Nick Starling and Spencer Collins.
The four seniors are special to the school, for different reasons, but for younger students attending the signing, the coaches said they are an example.
Coach Grant Stallard told younger athletes in the crowd, "the first question a coach asks me is, 'what kind of kid is he?'"
He said that question has to be answered before he can tell them how high a vertical jump he has or how many points he scores in a game.
"We've had no trouble out of these young men," said football coach Chad Smith. "Not with grades, not with behavior in the classroom and not with attitudes."
Smith said their hard work had brought more than 30 coaches to Easley High School this year on recruiting trips. In previous years, the school had entertained between four and six colleges.
Long snapper Joseph Smith committed to Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., earlier in the spring.
"Joseph Smith will forever be remembered as, and if you forget he will remind you, that the ball couldn't get back to Gilstrap to hold to be kicked to beat Wren without him snapping it there," said Chris Carter, athletic director for the school.
"What a weapon we had to have such a talented long snapper and will be forever be remembered as part of the last play at Brice Field."
Smith will become a part of the "Fighting Okra" in the fall.
Affectionately called "Five Star," Coach Chad Smith said that Joseph Smith was the best long snapper he has ever coached.
"He takes pride in it," Coach Smith said. "He's the reason I'm teaching all three of the Smith boys to snap instead of throw, so they might be Fighting Okra, as well."
Joseph Smith has received a full ride to Delta State, which is unprecedented, Coach Smith said.
Joseph Smith is the son of Mike and Sharon Smith.
Baseball player Stephen McKnight has committed to play at Anderson University.
McKnight, a left-handed pitcher and also an outfielder, has been a three-year starter for the Green Wave.
Carter said the coach at Anderson found out very quickly that McKnight was "an even better kid, than player."
Coach Roger Finley said McKnight finished his senior year, 15-4 with a .302 batting average.
Selected as the team's Most Valuable Player, McKnight was a n all region selection and will play in the North-South All Star game in Myrtle Beach.
"Stephen has great attitude, is an outstanding person, has outstanding parents," Finley said. "We are gonna miss him. Going to be a great player for Anderson."
McKnight is the son of Steve and Karen McKnight.
Nick Starling signed to play football at LaGrange College. Known affectionately as "Turbo," Starling played the last five or six games on a torn ACL.
Coach Chad Smith said that Starling came to him after he had torn his ACL and wanted to play.
"He demonstrated his toughness," Carter said.
After getting all the appropriate signatures, Starling was part of an Easley team that went to its second playoff game in two years and ended with a 26-2 record and the team rushed for 3,000 yards for the first time in a long time.
"Nick did a fantastic job for us," Coach Smith said. "He is a wonderful guard. I have never been more proud of a young man."
Coach Smith said Starling's choice in colleges only meant a longer ride to southern Georgia for him to see him play in college.
Starling is the son of Bruce Taylor and Tracy Gore.
Collins, a four-year for the Green Wave's varsity team, has some impressive stats.
"One of the greatest basketball players in the history of our school," Carter said.
Stallard threw out some of Collins' statistics and joked that he had to upgrade his cell plan to unlimited minutes to talk to all the coaches.
In four years, the 6-4 seniors has won two regional titles, has been named all-region three years in a row, was the leading re-bounder with 283, leading scorer with 27.3 points per game, scored 684 points this season and finished his high school career with 1,882 point.
"A milestone is 1,000, we had to go to a different plateau with the 1,500 club," Stallard told the crowd. "He scored 44 points in his final game against Gaffney, with a dunk at the buzzer that ended it."
During the playoffs, Collins scored a triple-double against Byrnes and scored 11 points, 14 rebounds and had 12 assists for the game.
Selected as the MVP during the North-South game, Collins scored 29 points that game and won the dunk contest earlier in the week. In four years, Collins would be a part of 79 wins and 30 losses.
He is the son of Roy and Lori Collins.