Carver’s Clarence France worried if he had made the right decision, switching from the offensive line to linebacker for his senior season after his coaches told him it might be his best chance to find a college offer.
There was little interest at first, but he soon found he was in good hands.
“I was a little discouraged about it because I didn’t have any letters or anything,” said France, a 2009 Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City first-team selection. “Nothing was coming my way. Coach (Dell McGee) told me to stick in there. I did what I had to, and I got me a letter.”
When it comes to landing players in college, McGee and his staff have become old pros, and there was a long table full of Tigers to prove it Wednesday.
Carver had 12 seniors at the ceremony. Quarterback Devin Burns was not at the ceremony as he has already enrolled at Maryland, but his teammates put a Maryland hat on the table during the ceremony.
Defensive back Corey Crawford and offensive lineman David Beasley joined France and Burns in the ACC by signing with Clemson; defensive end Brandon Smith signed with Southern Miss; cornerback Edward Carter and linebacker Jerome Williams signed with West Georgia; Devin Lewis signed with Snow College (Ephraim, Utah); linebacker Darius Lamar signed with New Mexico Military Institute; lineman Mike Golson, defensive back Marcus Ellison, and offensive linemen Marvin Seals and Robert Rockeymoore signed with DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Ill.).
Two former Carver players also signed Wednesday. Linebacker Patrick Grant (class of 2007) signed with Virginia Union after playing for Northeast Mississippi Community College. Another former Carver player, Dequan Menzie (class of 2008), signed with Alabama after playing two seasons with Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez, Miss., but did not attend the ceremony.
“I think it shows our coaches have done a great job talking to colleges and getting some options for these kids,” McGee said. “That work they do showing colleges what kind of talent we have gets underappreciated.
“Even our guys who aren’t regular starters who are signing today, colleges know what kind of program we have here and they know what kind of players they are.”
Crawford and Beasley, rated by rivals.com as four- and three-star recruits, respectively, had little trouble getting attention from colleges, and they said being able to continue their careers together at Clemson made the decision less stressful.
“Somebody that you know is going to be there,” Crawford said. “You’re not going to be just out by yourself. You’ve got somebody with you.”
Crawford, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City Defensive Player of the Year, chose Clemson from a list of offers that included Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Florida State. He finished 2009 with 87 tackles, nine sacks, a pair sacks and fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
The 6-4, 287-pound Beasley, a Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City first-team selection, was Carver’s top blocker and finished with 70 pancake blocks. His list of scholarship offers included Georgia, Miami and South Carolina.
Smith, a rivals.com three-star defensive end, chose Southern Mississippi over scholarship offers from other schools, including Clemson.
“(I chose Southern Miss) because I felt like, if I went to Southern Miss, I’d have a greater chance to start and play football my freshman year and just do what I can on the football field to help the team,” said Smith, a first-team All-Bi-City selection.
When asked what made this class so successful in garnering college offers, Beasley said it was the level of talent and competition at practice.
“You might not see boys like this at another level like I’ve seen in high school,” he said.
Carver began the season ranked No. 1 in Class AAA and went on to finish 11-2 overall and 6-0 in Region 2-AAA, falling to Flowery Branch in the state quarterfinals.
The Tigers landed 17 players on the 2009 All-Bi-City team. Burns, a three-star rivals.com quarterback, earned first-team honors with 1,595 yards and 16 touchdowns passing with another 541 yards and five touchdowns rushing. Lamar was selected for the second-team defense.