Garner Cleveland: Sports

More college offers for local football stars

Cleveland’s Isaac Martin (33) works out during a North Carolina team practice.
Cleveland’s Isaac Martin (33) works out during a North Carolina team practice. GWINN DAVIS PHOTOS

It’s a new year (Happy New Year, by the way.) and although the calendar has changed, the recruiting trail is still simmering when it comes to the area’s most sought-after football players.

Standout running backs Johnny Frasier and Nyheim Hines and defensive lineman Sterling Johnson all added to their lists of scholarship offers just before the start of a new recruiting dead period for in-person contact between recruits and coaches.

Hines, a junior at Garner, now has offers from 11 Division I programs with Ohio State, South Carolina and Tennessee joining the list that already included Akron, Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Johnson, a junior at Cleveland, added an offer from Virginia Tech to his list of suitors recently. That list already included Clemson, N.C. State and Florida.

Frasier, a junior at Princeton, has drawn an official offer from a Southeastern Conference school that plucked two of the best North Carolina running backs two years ago: Georgia.

The offer from the Bulldogs is the fourth for Frasier. He had all three Triangle area schools (N.C. State, Duke and North Carolina) already hot on his trail.

Princeton coach Derrick Minor said that Frasier has started getting a lot of attention from another Big Ten school as well: Penn State.

Martin makes verbal commitment: Cleveland senior running back Isaac Martin has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina University, but he is still keeping his options open in case any of the Division I schools that have shown interest come forward with a scholarship offer.

Martin, who ran for more than 4,000 yards in his career, carried the ball just twice in the annual Shrine Bowl Game of the Carolinas on Dec. 21 and didn’t take an offensive snap in the second half as the Tar Heel squad rode North Carolina recruit Elijah Hood exclusively in the second half.

“I’m still looking for some more Division I offers,” said Martin who has verbally committed to Coastal Carolina. “I hoped to get some more exposure in this game, but it’s hard to get that when you’ve got an all-world running back on the team with you.”

Although the game didn’t go as well as he would have liked it to, the Rams’ standout still learned a lot from the experience.

“I learned just how hard you have to work to be great,” he said. “The talent that was on display this week here was strong.”

Sands joins Archer in Rays’ system: Two former Johnston County rivals are on the same Major League Baseball roster this week after the Tampa Bay Rays claimed former Smithfield-Selma High star Jerry Sands off of waivers from Pittsburgh.

Sands joins Clayton native Chris Archer, a player he matched up against a handful of times against in high school, on the Tampa Bay 40-man roster.

It’s been a busy 14 months for the outfielder/first baseman as Sands was traded to the Red Sox from the Dodgers, then shipped to Pittsburgh before the start of the 2013 season. He played most of the 2013 season at Triple-A in Indianapolis after playing with the Dodgers in 2011 and 2012. Sands hit just .207 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in 106 games for Indy.

Archer went 10-10 for the Rays making 27 starts while compiling a 3.47 earned-run average. The Rays open the 2014 season March 31 against Toronto.