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Editor's note: This is an update on football recruiting for the high schools in southern Beaufort County. There will be an update for the schools in northern Beaufort County, as well as Jasper County, later this week. National signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 6
B.J. Payne's phone never seems to stop ringing these days.
The football season has long since passed, but the Hilton Head Island High coach finds himself busier than ever this month. With a future FBS quarterback nearing a commitment and a handful of other prospects rising, time is everything for Seahawks' head man.
"Pretty much all day, all night, I'm talking to recruiters," he said. "I'm having guys call me, talking to the kids and talking to the parents about what interest they have in what schools. It's always worth it."
Michael Julian finds himself at the forefront of Payne's attention. The
6-foot-5, 195-pound signal-caller holds 15 scholarship offers, with the trio of Wisconsin, Boston College and Toledo headlining his list of favorites.
The senior, who accounted for nearly 3,000 total yards and 31 touchdowns this season, took his official visit to Toledo from Jan. 11 to 13 and was at Boston College this weekend. A trip to Madison, Wis., this week will round out his visits.
Julian, however, could pull the trigger on a commitment sometime in the coming days, Payne said. Where he lands is anyone's guess.
"I think it's possible that he might do that," Payne said. "(With) the rigors of recruiting, it just becomes a lot for the kids and parents."
At least two college coaches have been in each day to visit with Julian, Payne said. N.C. State was the most recent school to pull the trigger with an offer, and coaches from Utah State also remain highly interested in the quarterback's services.
"It's literally been a turnstile at our school," Payne said. " ... We had four schools in on one day and they were all in at the same time."
That exposure has paid dividends for other Hilton Head High football players. Defensive tackle Poona Ford, a rising senior, took home his first offer from South Carolina several weeks ago and now holds offers from Illinois, Toledo, Utah State, Marshall, and Florida Atlantic, among others. Payne said Clemson, Florida and Boise State continue to check in on the 6-1, 288-pound prospect, as well.
"I think it's going to be interesting to see how he gets recruited, because there are probably three to four spots on the defense he can play," Payne said. "He can play fullback, too.
"South Carolina (defensive line coach Brad Lawing) laughed and said, 'This is a kid we're going to be fighting over because offense is going to want him for fullback and we're going to want him as a defensive lineman.' "
Ford isn't the only area player who could have a future in the Southeastern Conference, though. Bluffton defensive end Shameik Blackshear, a 2015 recruit, is already drawing early praise as the state's top-ranked recruit in his class.
The 6-4, 235-pound sophomore already has offers from South Carolina, Clemson, North Carolina and most recently N.C. State.
"I think his speed and elusiveness are the key to his success right now," Bluffton coach Ken Cribb said. "We're working real hard on developing the whole package with his power. The stronger we can get him, then he'll have a combination of skills he can use."
Several Bluffton seniors, meanwhile, are drawing closer to decisions. Quarterback C.J. Frazier has been offered by Newberry and Averett while linebacker Kyle Waddell holds an offer from Southeastern.
Both Charleston Southern and Lenoir-Rhyne have looked into linemen Austin Chittum and Yerko Castedo as well as linebacker Rogan Ferguson. Castedo is also speaking with Wingate and Campbell, while Ferguson continues to talk with Catawba.
Receiver Marquis Webber likely will travel the junior college route, Cribb said, and fellow wideout Demetrius Smalls has applied to West Point in the hopes of joining the Army sprint team. Tailback Tykeem Major and defensive back Jeremy Scott are looking at Greenville Tech and kicker Mallie Sprouse continues to speak with East Carolina and Brevard.
Hilton Head High also has a bevy of seniors looking at smaller schools. Benedict College and S.C. State have checked on receiver James Sanders of late, while The Citadel has inquired about linebacker Chase Rhinehart. Fellow wide-out Robbie Iulo is visiting Lehigh and potentially Ashland, while receiver Jonny Dillon has taken a visit to Furman.
Lineman Brooks Jenkins has drawn interested from Brevard, Emory & Henry and Mount Union. The Purple Raiders, for whom Payne played his college football, will also welcome tailback Scott D'Amico on a visit.
Adam Orischak has an offer from The Citadel but still has hopes of playing FBS football. The receiver has applied to the Naval Academy and will play for coach Ken Niumatalolo should he be accepted.
Hilton Head Christian corner Jamario Williams has remained steadfast in his commitment to the Wofford Terriers since the season ended in November, and coach Tommy Lewis said that S.C. State has been in contact with Eagles teammate Tyler Chisholm, who kicked, punted and played running back a season ago.