The Valdosta Daily Times
After the best season in school history, the Valwood football team hosted the school’s most successful signing day on Wednesday.
Three Valiants signed National Letters of Intent to play college football, while a fourth has already enrolled early to continue his college football career.
Wide receiver Rashad Mathis, linebacker and running back Khary Paige and offensive lineman Griffin Clyatt joined fellow senior Aulden Bynum, who enrolled at the University of Georgia in January, as college football signees.
After leading the Valiants to a perfect 14-0 state championship winning season, the three Valiant seniors that signed Wednesday will look to keep their winning success going at the college level.
Mathis signed his letter of intent to Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II football program located in Hickory, N.C., while Clyatt signed with Division I-FCS Stetson (Fla.) and Paige with Coffeyville Community College in Okla.
Mathis will join a Bears team that finished the 2012 season with a 9-3 record and as South Atlantic Conference champions. The Bears beat Fort Valley State in the first round of the Division II playoffs, the school’s first-ever playoff victory, before being beat by Carson-Newman in the second round.
“I’m pretty excited,” Mathis said. “They won the SAC championship this year, so I’m pretty excited to get up there and do some big things. I think I can go up there and play and I hope to play my freshman year.”
The go-to target for the Valiants for the past four seasons, Mathis hauled in 47 catches for 827 yards with nine touchdowns in 2012, earning himself All-Region and GISA Class AA All-State honors for the champion Valiants.
“I just want to go up there and work hard and do what I can,” Mathis said. “That is all I can do.”
Clyatt, one of the key weapons on the Valwood offensive line that opened giant holes for players like Paige, signed with Stetson.
Stetson is a new football program and will compete in its first season of college football this fall, as a Division I-FCS program.
The Hatters open their season Aug. 31 against Warner University before visiting Florida Tech, a Division II school in its first season of existence, Sept. 7. Stetson will finish the season against Mercer University, which is also beginning a new football program this year.
“When I went down there, I liked what I saw with the program,” Clyatt said. “They’re real energetic about it and the whole town is behind it. It is going to really blow up here in a couple of years. I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited about it.”
Coming from a small private school, Clyatt said he is nervous about the jump in competition, but knows he can compete against the larger, tougher competition after he participated in the Battle of the Border senior bowl in January.
“It showed me that I can compete against tougher competition,” Clyatt said. “I’m not scared or anything. There are big guys in GISA. It’s just not everyone is big. When I played in the senior bowl, I could definitely compete with those guys.”
Paige, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards his junior season and finished his senior season with 1,684 yards and 26 touchdowns, will be a linebacker for Coffeyville Community College when he arrives this fall.
Along with his offensive successes at Valwood, Paige led the Valiants with 73.5 tackles in 2012, including six tackles for loss and three sacks. He also finished with two forced fumbles and an interception.
Needless to say, Paige plans to make an impact immediately.
“(Coffeyville) has a great football program and an excellent coaching staff,” he said. “They have one player going to Arkansas. I have a friend, Kenneth Lamar, he is going too, so I am pretty excited. It feels good and I feel blessed. I will be starting at linebacker and I am excited about that.”
Once his two years at Coffeyville are complete, Paige said he plans on transferring somewhere up north, like Oregon.
Bynum, who will participate in spring practice with the Bulldogs in March, became the school’s first Division I commitment over the summer when he announced he was attending Georgia.
He stuck with his commitment throughout the season and enrolled at UGA in January.