LAURINBURG — On the first Wednesday of each February, many high school football players across the country are thrust into the public spotlight as they pen their Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.
Over the years National Signing Day has become a spectacle filled with over-the-top announcements, but at Scotland High School, a trio of Fighting Scots humbly celebrated their selections in front of family and classmates.
J’Quan Breeden, Randy Leak and Timon McMillan inked their LOIs at Scotland’s Signing Day ceremony, officially capping their high school careers.
Jonathan Smith, the two-time Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, has already embarked on his college journey after enrolling at the University of North Carolina in January.
“Every year as a head coach, and as the athletic director, nothing is more rewarding than seeing true student-athletes get the opportunity to go play college football, but more importantly to get an education,” said Scotland football coach and athletic director Richard Bailey.
Breeden and McMillan signed with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and will join a handful of teammates that committed to the Braves football program last year. Bailey mentioned Scotland is forming a “pipeline” to UNCP as former Scots Ben Utter, Quadrin Williams and Robert Beacham currently play their collegiate ball in Pembroke.
Breeden, a two-time all-SEC selection, was a key piece on Scotland’s stellar offensive line last year. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tackle helped protect all-SEC quarterback Dashaun Ferguson, who tossed 15 touchdown passes without an interception.
McMillan paved the way for SEC Offensive Player of the Year Zamir White, who rushed for a school-record 41 touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 305-pound guard was a three-time all-conference honoree during his high school career and Bailey named him the team’s Best Offensive Lineman at Scotland’s fall sports banquet.
Leak inked his pledge to North Carolina A&T, a school that has also recently welcomed Fighting Scots into its football program. Former stars Tony McRae and Kwashaun Quick, who were key cogs on Scotland’s 2011 championship-winning squad, recently wrapped up their college careers with the Aggies.
Leak was an all-SEC selection last year after he was named all-SEC honorable mention his junior season. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder hauled in 33 receptions for 547 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior campaign after catching 21 passes for 451 yards and five touchdowns the year before.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Bailey cited each of his players’ impressive work ethic on and off the field and told the crowd in attendance, “you guys sitting out there watching, if you want to be where they’re at, you have to achieve in the classroom first and foremost.”
“A lot of hard work went on on the field, in the weight room and there was a lot of commitment from the families driving back and forth to practices, games, camps and all that,” he said. “But more importantly, a lot of commitment went on in the classroom — these kids have done what it takes academically at Scotland High School.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.