Shaw High's climb back into contention at the state level is far from over after a 6-5 record and a one-and-done in the 2012 state playoffs.
But if Wednesday is an indication of the state of the program, coach Kyle Adkins said on Wednesday, then it appears to be in good shape.
Six Raiders signed scholarships to play college football at a ceremony featuring speeches from coaches and influential teachers.
Quarterback Chandler Whittlesey, who was voted the All Bi-City offensive player of the year by area coaches in December, signed with Union College. Tight end Joe Purter, who said he wanted a place strong in academics, chose Presbyterian College.
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Linebackers Chris Golden and DeAnthone Morse both signed with Cumberland Universiy, and cornerback Carlton Little and wide receiver LaVonte Williams went with the Atlanta Prep Sports Academy.
Adkins praised the class for its hard work, noting the significance it has in terms of the team's progress.
"I figured we had about 10 guys that could go on to play college ball," Adkins said, noting that he expects four others to sign in the spring. "I think these guys have earned it."
The six football signees were tied with Carver for the most in the Bi-City area.
Whittlesey, who led the team by actions rather than words, passed for 2,350 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2012 to go with 675 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Adkins said that Whittlesey should join Union College with a strong chance of starting under center as a freshman.
"I'm pretty happy, excited, to be able to get out there and compete as a freshman," Whittlesey said. "Very happy about that."
Purter, one of Whittlesey's main targets in the passing game, had 481 yards receiving and three touchdowns on offense. He split time on defense, as well, recording 50 tackles as a defensive end.
He said he's going onto his new team as an athlete with the possibility of playing on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball.
"I can play defensive end or I can play tight end," he said. "However I can help out the team."
Morse had 66 tackles (13 for loss) and three sacks for the Raiders defense, while Golden had 68 and six. Little was a shutdown corner and Williams had 383 yards and eight touchdowns receiving.
"I think a lot of people contributed to their success," Adkins said. "If they keep pressing forward, I think they'll be fine."
David Mitchell, 706-571-8571