Wednesday was the first day high school seniors could sign their national letters of intent in sports like basketball, baseball, softball and golf. The early signing period lasts through Nov. 15, and the Golden Isles got in on the fun with three area athletes making their college selections official.
At Frederica Academy, Thomas Hogan signed to play golf at Ole Miss while baseball player Turner Jamieson will continue his athletic career at Merrimack College in Massachusetts.
At Brunswick High, Kayla Rowell put her signature on her letter to make her commitment to Georgia Southwestern State official.
Hogan has been on board with Ole Miss for a while. He committed to the SEC school while he was a sophomore. The two-year verbal commitment became official when Hogan put pen to paper on Wednesday at the school.
“It’s awesome. I’m really excited to go start my career at Ole Miss,” Hogan said.
Ole Miss head golf coach Chris Malloy said on the school’s website that he was excited to have Hogan joining the program.
“Thomas has been committed for a long time and was someone that we identified early on that could help our program,” Malloy said. “I know that he will continue to improve and be ready to compete once he gets here next fall.”
For Hogan, it was Malloy and assistant coach Kyle Ellis that convinced him to pick the Rebels and stay with his commitment.
“I know Coach Malloy and Coach Ellis will make me the best version of myself I can be and help me reach my goals of playing on the PGA Tour,” Hogan said.
Hogan showed the potential he has during the summer. He won his age group and finished second overall at the Future Masters in Dothan, Ala., won his first-ever Golden Isles Invitational and also qualified for the U.S. Amateur.
Hogan said he’s feeling pretty good about his game heading into a RSM Classic pre-qualifier today at Brunswick Country Club. Frederica coach Tom Willis said Hogan separates himself from the pack with his chipping, putting and his maturity.
“His short game is as good as I’ve ever seen,” Willis said. “He’s got great touch with his hands. A lot of it is time spent working on the course, but he’s got a natural gift of good hands that you don’t see everyone have. He may be the best putter we’ve ever had. He’s made a lot of big putts for us.”
All of those attributes were on display a couple of years ago at the state tournament when the Knights trailed late in the tournament. Hogan nearly chipped in a shot from off the green, leaving it about an inch short. The Knights would go on to capture the state championship, a run that now includes 10 straight state titles.
“He loves pressure situations,” Willis said.
Kayla Rowell tried her hand at a variety of sports. The one that stuck was softball.
“I just fell in love with softball,” Rowell said. “That’s the one that stood out.”
Rowell wrapped up her recruitment when she signed her letter to Georgia Southwestern State. Making the commitment official relieved a lot of stress for the senior.
“It takes all the weight off of my shoulders,” Kayla said. “I can say that I’ve signed my letter of intent and that’s where I’m going next year. It’s very rewarding.”
The Americus school’s coaches and campus, along with Rowell’s familiarity with the players helped her make her decision.
“I loved the coaches and the campus,” Rowell said. “I actually know some of the girls that are going to be there. I’ve played with them before, and I like them a lot.”
The Hurricanes have recruited Rowell to be a catcher, but she said she may also play some first base. Rowell was a standout for the Lady Pirates this season hitting .429 for the season with 17 RBIs and 10 runs scored. Brunswick coach Brian Crawford also said Rowell was a key leader for the team.
When it comes to what she’ll remember most about playing at Brunswick, Rowell focused her attention on her teammates and her coach.
“My teammates, that’s what really stood out,” Rowell said. “They were always supportive. They were always good teammates. Coaching was also wonderful. (Crawford) did a lot for me. He wasn’t just focused on winning. He was focused on getting everyone better as a player.”
Jamieson left Frederica Academy to head to Florida’s renowned IMG Academy right around the time coach Greg Roberts was going from Frederica to Glynn Academy. It’s only appropriate that as Roberts returns for his second stint at Frederica, that he would have Jamieson to coach again.
“We’re coming back at the same time,” Roberts said. “He’s going to spend a lot of time for us in the outfield,” Roberts said. “He’s an exceptional outfielder. He runs well. He hits very well. He’s going to pitch some too.”
While Roberts plans to play Jamieson in the outfield, he said the senior could play a variety of spots because of his versatility.
Merrimack is hoping to take advantage of that versatility too. Jamieson said the school was looking at him as both an outfielder and a pitcher.
“I’m working on getting more consistent on the mound and at the plate, and making the routine plays in the outfield,” Jamieson said.
On the mound, Jamieson described himself as a contact pitcher.
“I’m a pitcher that doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, just mainly keeps the pitch counts low, keeps the defense moving — that’s my game,” Jamieson said.
Merrimack was the first school to offer Jamieson and when the offers didn’t roll in over the summer, he decided to go with the NCAA Division II school located in North Andover, Mass.
There will be a climate adjustment when he travels north.
“It’s just going to a little cold, but I’ll get used to it,” Jamieson said.
But before he journeys north, Jamieson has one goal in mind for his senior season.
“I want to win a state championship,” Jamieson said. “That’s one of the reason why I came to Frederica. I want to make history and it would be a great way to end a high school career.”