The college sports world was abuzz as “National Signing Day” commenced on Wednesday, with the top football recruits in the nation making their intentions known by putting pen to paper.
While fans across the country waited with baited breath to see the next potential superstars officially sign their National Letter of Intent, Fighting Scots’ nation got to celebrate six of their own making the biggest decision of their young lives.
Scotland seniors Ethan Hulon, Martin Locklear, Artemis Robinson, Tra’Shawn Gregory, Ryan Leak and Malik Diggs each had their moment Wednesday morning. And for the SHS class of 2013, the future has never been brighter.
“They are a special group of kids that you don’t see come around that often,” said Scotland head football coach Richard Bailey, who presided over the signing ceremony in the SHS commons area. “I’m very proud to have been attached to them during this past season, because they’re going to do great things. There’s not a doubt in my mind that they’ll be successful businessmen, fathers and overall citizens of our community, and that makes me as proud as anything.”
Locklear and Gregory each signed with Louisburg College (Louisburg, N.C.), where they will continue being teammates as members of the Hurricanes. Louisburg is a two-year residential college where Locklear and Gregory can continue furthering their student athlete careers en route to a potential landing spot at a NCAA division-1 or -2 collegiate program.
“It’s close to home, has a good football program and is a great opportunity for me to continue my education,” said Locklear, who as an offensive lineman for the Scots was an All-Conference and All-Region selection. Gregory earned All-Conference honors as a wide receiver as well.
“After I finish at Louisburg I think I’ll be able to move on to something even bigger,” he said.
Paired with Locklear on the offensive line during the Scots’ stellar 2012 football season was Hulon, who was the recipient of the “Most Improved” player award at Scotland High School’s fall sports awards this past January. Hulon signed his letter of intent to attend Wingate University and suit up for the Bulldogs in the fall.
“Not many people get this chance, so it’s an honor,” Hulon said. “We all worked hard this year as a team and for us to sign and represent Scotland at the next level is a great feeling.”
There’s not much left to be said regarding the accolades that Robinson and Diggs collected over the course of their final year as members of the Fighting Scots. Both players anchored one of the top defenses in North Carolina (Robinson as a linebacker and Diggs as a cornerback), earned All-Conference and All-Region distinctions and were each selected to represent Scotland at the Shrine Bowl, which honors the top prep football players in the Carolinas.
Though both made verbal commitments to their colleges of choice in recent weeks, each made their decision official on National Signing Day. Robinson and Diggs will continue their careers at NC State University and The Citadel, respectively.
If you ask players and coaches alike which Scotland football standout best embodies the definition of what a “student athlete” entails, more often than not you will get the same answer: Scots’ defenisve back Ryan Leak. From his accomplishments on the field (earning All-Conference honors this season) to his excellent track record in the classroom, Leak has set an example that will endure for years to come in the eyes of Scots’ nation.
And on Wednesday morning, Leak announced to those in attendance that he will attend Davidson College, one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country whose athletic programs compete at the NCAA division-1 level.
“I was waiting for a call like this, from a division-1 school that is high in both academics and athletics because that’s the type of person I pride myself in being,” said Leak, who earned a dual scholarship to Davidson for both his athletic and academic accomplishments. “The work you put into the classroom will carry over into the work you put in on the football field. I learned this at a young age, and it’s helped me throughout my life.”