Three longtime members of Chris Hamilton's South Aiken football program capped their respective recruiting processes Wednesday by signing off on offers they simply couldn't refuse.
Wide receiver Devionne Burnett is heading to Morehouse, offensive lineman Caleb Eichelberger chose Charleston Southern, and tight end Jesse Sanders signed with South Carolina.
For Sanders, Wednesday was his chance to finally put pen to paper and be done with a hectic recruiting process.
"It's been crazy. I never thought it would, not really blow up, but I never thought it would be like it was – constantly talking to coaches, constantly getting letters in the mail," he said. "I mean, it's awesome. It's something that not a lot of people get to experience. I'm grateful for it, but it sure was kind of nerve-wracking and stressful at times."
Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, Sanders accepted a preferred walk-on spot with the Gamecocks over scholarship offers from smaller Division I schools and a recent walk-on offer from Tennessee. The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder will stay at tight end in college after playing wide receiver and quarterback in previous years at South Aiken.
He described the offer from the Gamecocks as a dream come true – not just to play for a school in a Power Five conference, but to do it at a school he roots for. Now he wants to take advantage of that opportunity and earn a football scholarship, continue his education (he plans to study business) and see some playing time for the Gamecocks.
Eichelberger's had a similar dream of getting a shot at the next level during his nine years playing football. A 6-6, 295-pound offensive tackle, Eichelberger grabbed plenty of attention over the last couple of years with the T-Breds – and when he turned heads on a Division I coaching staff, he was offered an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"I really love their coaching staff. They've been with me for a long time. They've always been there, no matter what happened," he said, adding that CSU remained patient with him even when Gardner Webb applied some last-minute pressure.
"... They understood, even when it came down to the wire. They stuck with me. They had faith in me. They just wanted what was best for me. Just praying on it, it felt like God wanted me to go to Charleston Southern, so that's where I'm going."
Eichelberger plans to study kinesiology at CSU and eventually open up his own training business.
The 6-5, 195-pound Burnett called Wednesday the end of a very long process, one that a couple weeks ago looked like it would lead him to Limestone College. He switched his commitment to Morehouse, the first school that offered him, because of the bond he had with the coaching staff.
Burnett plans to study computer science at Morehouse – he said the Atlanta school made him feel like it was the place where he needs to be, so that's where he decided he'll live out of his dream of playing college football.
"It means the world to me," he said. "Where I'm from, nobody expects anything like this. I feel like I'm just carrying my city on my back right now. It's just something we always dreamed of, me and all the guys."