New Citadel football coach Mike Houston got some good news on signing day eve when two-sport standout Shy Phillips of Hartsville picked the Bulldogs.
Phillips, a 6-1, 170-pound outfielder and cornerback for Hartsville High School, had been verbally committed to play baseball at The Citadel before a standout senior football season landed him in the Shrine Bowl and earned him increased recruiting attention.
Last week, Phillips opened his recruiting back up and said he would choose from among The Citadel, Coastal Carolina, Charleston Southern and Western Carolina. But on Tuesday afternoon, the Florence Morning News reported that Phillips will sign with The Citadel on Wednesday to play both sports, according to Hartsville coach Jeff Calabrese.
Phillips' commitment, along with that of defensive back Reggie Benjamin of Melbourne, Fla., pushed The Citadel's total to at least 17 verbal commitments heading into signing day. The Citadel had six commitments in the fold when Houston was hired on Jan. 9 to replace former coach Kevin Higgins.
The Bulldogs plan to sign at least 20 players to national letters of intent, but likely will have to wait until Wednesday to learn the plans of another two-sport standout.
Goose Creek quarterback Dantez Bennamon, who also plays point guard for the Gators' basketball team, has an offer from The Citadel to play both sports as a Bulldog. Furman has offered Bennamon (6-1, 170) for basketball only, and he will likely make his choice Wednesday, according to Goose Creek coach Chuck Reedy.
As promised, Houston's first class is heavy on quarterbacks and offensive linemen as he and offensive coordinator Brent Thompson bring their version of the triple-option flexbone to The Citadel.
A group of four quarterbacks already committed includes in-state prospects Shon Belton (6-2, 195) of Lugoff-Elgin High School and Jauveer Hammond (5-8, 170) of Strom Thurmond HS. Jalen Lampkin (5-10, 175) of Augusta, Ga., and Devon Mines (6-0, 170) of Pelham, Ala., are also committed. Any of the four QBs could likely play another position in the triple option.
Among running backs, Isiaha Smith (5-11, 223) of Hagerstown, Md., and Matthew Thompson (6-0, 206) of Morristown, Tenn., both look to have the size to play fullback in the option. Smith had two 2,000-yard rushing seasons in high school. Four offensive linemen include Sydney Martin (6-2, 252) of state power Byrnes HS.
C.J. Thomas, a 6-1, 175-pound receiver from Mauldin, will reportedly sign with The Citadel as a preferred walk-on. Other names to watch for include lineman Derrick Freeland (6-1, 245) of Mallard Creek HS in Charlotte and Goose Creek fullback Evan McField (6-0, 225).
QB Shon Belton, 6-2, 195, Lugoff-Elgin HS; DB Reggie Benjamin, 5-10, 190, Palm Bay Magnet HS, Melbourne, Fla.; QB Jauveer Hammond, 5-8, 170, Strom Thurmond HS; OL Tristan Harkleroad, 6-2, 275, Benedictine HS, Savannah, Ga.; LB Russell Hubbs, 6-1, 220, Northwestern HS; QB Jalen Lampkin, 5-10, 175, Westside HS, Augusta, Ga.; OL Sydney Martin, 6-2, 252, Byrnes HS; OL Kyle Mauk, 6-1, 244, Manatee HS, Bradenton, Fla.; QB Devon Mines, 6-0, 170, Pelham (HS), Ala.; DB Shy Phillips, 6-1, 170, Hartsville HS; LB Myles Pierce, 6-0, 227, Daphne (Ala.) HS; DE Logan Robinson, 6-4, 225, Yorktown HS, Arlington, Va.; RB Isiaha Smith, 5-11, 223, South Hagerstown (Md.) HS; RB Matthew Thompson, 6-0, 206, Morristown, Tenn.; OL Houston Tyler, 6-1, 251, Southmoore HS, Moore, Okla.; RB Quinlan Washington, 6-0, 185, Bucholz HS, Gainesville, Fla.; WR/DE Tre'von White, 6-5, 205, Pelham (Ga.) HS.