High School Sports

Thomas Heyward Academy standout J.D. Tuten to sign with Furman on Thursday

As signing day approached in February, Thomas Heyward Academy standout J.D. Tuten was weighing a partial scholarship offer to play receiver at Division I FCS Furman against playing defensive back at Division III Berry College, where he would get no scholarship money.

When Feb. 6 arrived, Tuten chose Berry over signing with Furman. But since there was no letter of intent involved, his options were still open.

Good thing, because at 1:30 p.m. today at Thomas Heyward Academy, Tuten will sign to play football at Furman.

"I was sitting at the house and another letter came in from Furman," Tuten said. "And it said that I would get a lot more scholarship money than I expected academically."

The Paladins coaches had stayed in contact since signing day and were still offering Tuten the partial scholarship. Combined with the academic money, it more than covered what Tuten needed.

"Once the academic money came through it was a no-brainer," Tuten said.

As a quarterback in 2012, Tuten completed 82 of 141 passes for 1,422 yards and 16 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He also rushed 108 times for 1,176 yards, a 10.89 average, and 12 touchdowns.

On defense, Tuten made 48 tackles, three for loss, and recorded six interceptions last season. He averaged 16.2 yards on 10 punt returns and 28.4 yards on 10 kickoff returns, taking one of each for a touchdown.

Despite several nagging injuries, he led the Rebels (12-2) to a SCISAA Class 2-A state championship appearance.

In Greenville, however, Tuten will be playing receiver.

"I'm really excited," Tuten said of the move. "I've really liked (playing receiver) since I was little, then I got thrown into QB, which I loved too. But receiver is where I want to be."

Tuten said he's already been to the Upstate a lot this year. He's already been to one spring practice and plans to go back for the April 6 spring game.

"This was No. 1 ever since we stepped foot on campus," Tuten said. "It was sad when we had to rule them out. It's outrageous how many Furman clothes my parents have already."