UNION — Three Yellowjackets who signed letters of intent to play college football say that one of the reasons they chose their respective colleges was the emphasis they place on education.
In a signing ceremony in the Union County High School Gym Wednesday morning attended by family members, friends, school and district officials, and fellow students, Christian Johnson, Tyrese “Ty” Washington, and Shiyun “Shi’ Smith signed letters of intent to play football for Limestone College, Newberry College, and the University of South Carolina, respectively.
During interviews with The Union Times Thursday morning, the three student-athletes discussed their reasons for choosing the colleges they did. Among the reasons they cited were the academic programs offered by each college and the emphasis the institutions place on student-athletes getting their education as well as playing sports.
Family and friends in the area, teachers committed to the education of student-athletes, and a coach who understands student-athletes were the reasons given by Johnson for choosing Limestone.
“It just seemed like the perfect fit for me,” Johnson said. “I’d talked with a lot of schools and Limestone stuck with me all the way. I’ve got family and friends up there.
“The teachers there were put there for student-athletes,” he said. “I really do like the campus and Coach Furrey really understands a student-athlete’s point of view.”
Closeness to his family, financial assistance, an opportunity to play his first year, and educational programs including the subjects he want to major in were the reasons given by Washington for choosing Newberry.
“First and foremost, it is very close to home, my family is just 35 minutes down the road,” Washington said. “Coach Knight offered me a better deal financially. He also told me I had a chance to come in and play as a freshman if I come in and work hard right away.
“Last but not least, they have a great educational program,” he said. “They have a great business administration program and a great communications program, both of which I want to major in.”
Coaches that make sure their players get their educations, the relationships with players and coaches, and a lifelong love of the Carolina Gamecocks were the reasons Smith said he chose USC.
“The coaches will stay in touch with me and make sure my grades will stay up,” Smith said. “It’s just the relationships I feel with the coaches and players.
“I’ve just been a Carolina fan since I was growing up,” he said. “It’s been a dream to play for them.”
As members of the UCHS Football Team, Johnson, Washington, and Smith amassed the following records on the field.
• 17 Tackles
• 10 Assisted Tackles
• 2 Sacks
• 7 Pressures
• 1 Tackle for Loss
• 42 Tackles
• 28 Assists
• 6 Sacks
• 1 INT
• 15 Pressures
• 3 Pass Break ups
• 7 Tackle for Loss
• 1 Forced Fumble
• 1 Fumble Recovery
• 67 Receptions for 907 Yards
• 10 Receiving TD’s
• 15 Carries for 54 Yards
• 1 Rushing TD
• 12 TD’s
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.