St. James senior Austin Gavin had one year to impress college recruiters.

He made the most of it, spending Wednesday at a signing ceremony in the school gym to celebrate his scholarship offer to Troy University.

“It was close to home, great program, lots of room to grow,” Gavin said. “It was just a great fit for me. I knew if I went there, it would be somewhere I could play.”

Gavin spent his time in 2019 backing up Tony Amerson before Amerson signed with Georgia Tech, leaving Gavin to carry the load in the Trojan backfield. Gavin responded with 1,608 yards – the fifth highest single-season total in school history – and 1,903 all-purpose yards (second highest), finishing his career with 2,128 rushing yards to rank sixth in St. James history and attract a little attention from Troy coach Chip Lindsey and special teams coordinator Brian Blackmon, who played high school football for St. James head coach Jimmy Perry at Robert E. Lee.

“We’ve been lucky here to have had nine 1,000 yard rushers in eight years,” Perry noted. “He was following Tony (Amerson). Tony was on everyone’s radar and Austin was sort of an afterthought last year, so he really only had one year to shine. And he still ranks (among the best in school history). I’m glad Chip and them are going to take him. It’s a good opportunity for him and it’s close. I’m just tickled for him.”

Signing day for any player is special, but signing day for a guy who didn’t get recruited until his senior season makes Wednesday a dream come true for Gavin.

“I didn’t have that many offers because I didn’t start playing until my junior year, so recruiting was very slow for me,” Gavin said. “I want to give thanks to (former St. James quarterback) C.J. Duncan. Last year, on my birthday, he gave me a call and said, hey, we need to start on this recruiting. He hooked me up with a lot of connections. Actually, my first visit to Troy was with him.

“I’m lucky and I’m blessed.”