Bluffton's football commitment list grows to 4 for year

mmccombs@islandpacket.comFebruary 4, 2014 

When wide receiver Vinny Boni committed to play football for Limestone on Monday, it continued a trend for Bluffton High School.

As the Bobcats fourth commitment this year, Boni is the 30th Bluffton player to pledge to a school in head coach Ken Cribb's four years at the school.

Boni, who visited the Division II school in Gaffney over the weekend, said he liked the fact the Saints were starting a new program.

"I like the Gaffney atmosphere," Boni said. "It's all about football there, kind of like Bluffton."

Boni, who plans to study exercise science and hopes to eventually go into physical therapy, said Cribb was there when he needed him during the recruiting process.

"He always said, 'If you need anything, I'm here, I can help you out. Tell me who to call,' " Boni said.

Though some have questioned the coach's low-profile methods, Bluffton athletics director Dave Adams says Cribb never stops working for his kids.

"He never rests from it," Adams said. "There's never an offseason for him."

With his commitment Monday, Boni joins three other 2014 Bobcats pledges -- defensive lineman K.J. Ford (James Madison), offensive lineman Taylor Gordon (Savannah State) and athlete Jae Middleton, who committed to Newberry over the weekend. Cribb said all four would qualify and there could be more coming.

The Bobcats will celebrate their signings in a noon ceremony Wednesday at the school.

"I'm real proud we've sent 26 to play college ball," Cribb said. "They don't always stick, But 17 are still playing."

Cribb says he does the same things other coaches do to promote his kids: taking them to camps, strength meets and 7-on-7 leagues; networking at coaching seminars; sending out film. And he preaches a three-pronged approach to success based on character, pride and work ethic.

But if Cribb does differ from some other coaches, he said it's only in his insistence that players and parents bear some responsibility for finding a good fit for them.

"Kids have to have an idea what they want, they have to be familiar with the schools," Cribb said. "Check out the team situation, look at depth charts. How many players are graduating? Will they get playing time? Does the player want to get on the field or just wear a jersey? And be realistic, where can they play?"

Adams said he understands that outsiders see a lack of big-time Division I recruits and ask why.

"Fans always assume we've got D-I players, Adams said. "What we've had are good high school football players. But what (Cribb's) done is do a good job finding a fit for the players we do have, be it Division II or junior college, etc."

Like most programs, the Bobcats hold seminars to ensure players and their parents understand the academic requirements to play college football. And Cribb distributes a list of every school in the country -- from Division I to Division III, NAIA and junior college -- that offers football.

Cribb says he stresses to his players and parents that the kids are not going to college to play football, they're going for the education.

"Football is just a means," Cribb said.

Knowing he has sent kids to college who would have never gone if not for football, Cribb said he can't envision the college coach that wouldn't go the extra mile for a player.

"All coaches work tirelessly to promote their kids," Cribb said. "If I don't say all, I say most. ... I personally haven't known any coaches during my 27 years, ... I can't sit here and name any coaches that didn't work 24-7, 365 for their kids."


TE Stephen Baggett, Beaufort High, East Carolina

WR Vinny Boni, Bluffton, Limestone

DL K.J. Ford, Bluffton, James Madison

OL Taylor Gordon, Bluffton, Savannah State

RB Khalil Lewis, Hilton Head Island, Gardner-Webb

ATH Jae Middleton, Bluffton, Newberry

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