Erskine College in Due West, a picturesque liberal arts college of about 600 students at a crossroads not much bigger than Mayesville about 15 miles northwest of Greenwood, hasn't had a football team since 1951.
The Flying Fleet will be taking to …
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The Flying Fleet will be taking to the gridiron again starting in 2020, however, and head coach Shap Boyd, hired away from the University of Virginia-Wise, has signed 22 players in his first recruiting class, including 20 from South Carolina, among them defensive back Abraham Temoney III from Sumter High School, who signed with the Fleet during a National Signing Day event on Wednesday at the school.
Temoney, a Sumter Touchdown Club Merit Scholar with a sparkling resume as a student-athlete at Sumter High, transitioned into a defensive role during his senior season, helping the Gamecocks go undefeated until a loss to Byrnes knocked them from the 5A state playoffs. He'll continue his development, along with the other 21 Fleet signees, during a redshirt 2019 season, and Sumter head coach Mark Barnes said he thought the extra year would benefit Temoney as he continues to make the switch to the other side of the ball.
"Abraham is a guy that was kind of a backup receiver for us during his junior year, and we asked him to move to defense because we thought we were short a (defensive back)," Barnes said. "He accepted that role -- kind of reluctantly at first -- but did a good job last spring and became a good defensive back.
"The thing he has, if you look at him, is he's 6-foot-2(-inches) and can run, and he's almost a 4.0 (grade point average) in the classroom," Barnes said. "He was a guy that increased his stock dramatically by being willing to help the team and move to another position, so we're happy to see him rewarded."
Temoney didn't turn in gaudy stats, averaging 2 1/2 tackles per game and pulling down one interception. However, the affable Temoney said he was more impressed by the idea of starting something new and using the experience to advance his long-term academic plans.
"My first year will be lifting weights, conditioning and getting used to college," Temoney said. "It's a small campus, but I can focus on my academics there, and it's a small family atmosphere. With them starting their football program up for the first time, I wanted to be a part of something that's just beginning -- I thought that would be unique.
"The coaches, especially (assistant) Coach (Jordan) Odaffer, were in contact with me every day," he said. "What really got to me was how he talked about life after football as far as academics and how Erskine can set you up for your future. That really made an impression."
Temoney plans to study exercise science and then pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy, he said, hoping to attend the University of South Carolina after his time in Due West.
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