Five county athletes sign
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Five players — four in football, one in soccer — from two county schools signed on National Signing Day.
Jaylen Dowell, Methodist: The Rampants' leading rusher from 2017 will continue his football career at Methodist in Fayetteville.
Dowell, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound running back, amassed 780 yards on 140 carries as a senior to go with five touchdowns. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark in two of Rose's final three games.
Shortly after the season ended, Methodist contacted him and built a rapport that led Dowell to choose the Monarchs over Wingate.
"They just kept in contact with me and they said they could help me become a better football player," he said. "I liked the people. The people made me feel like I was home and I was welcome there."
Kyle Hill, Hampton: After playing his final season at Rose, Hill is headed to Virginia to play at Hampton University for a familiar face.
Hill's 1,346 all-purpose yards were most on Rose's team last season. The 5-10, 185-pounder transferred to JHR from Southside-Chocowinity and contributed not just in the run game (380 yards, five touchdowns), but was sixth on the team in tackles (42) and held down kick return responsibilities (808 return yards).
At Hampton, he will play for new Pirates head coach and former ECU assistant Robert Prunty, whose son, Robert Jr., played for the Rampants last season. Hill said Prunty reached out about three weeks ago, and the familiarity he already had with the coach helped make the decision easy.
“(Prunty) called me, and I liked him and had a good relationship with him," Hill said. "I don't know exactly what I'll be doing, but I know for sure I'll be returning kicks and punts."
Caleb Brame, Charleston Southern: When it came time for Conley's 6-3, 260-pound tackle to decide between Charleston Southern and a preferred walk-on spot at East Carolina, it was hard to pass up CSU's location.
"Charleston is so cool," Brame said. "It's a really cool place and the fact there's a college I can play football at in the middle of Charleston is perfect. After the official (visit), I pretty much knew."
Brame was a first-team Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference selection as a senior. He said solidifying his college choice was the culmination of a long process, one he said he wasn't always entirely sure would wind up with him playing college football.
"Man, I'm so excited. For a while there, in the beginning of my high school career, I wasn't sure," he said. "I started lifting hard and getting ready, it became a reality around my junior year and from then on, I've just been waiting for this moment."
Will Whitehurst, William & Mary: Conley's stalwart kicker is headed to Williamsburg, Va., to kick for the Tribe.
Whitehurst (6-2, 185) amassed a school-record 281 points in his Conley career, going 248-for-265 (94.0 percent) on extra points and 11-for-14 (79.0 percent) on field goals. He stayed in contact with W&M's coaching staff after attending a kicking camp there last summer, and jumped at a preferred walk-on spot the school offered him last month.
"It feels good," he said. "I'm real excited. It's a school I've always wanted to go to and it's at the highest level of academics as well as football. ... Other schools wanted me as a football player, and some wanted me academically, and I wanted the perfect middle ground."
Morgan Tingen, Meredith: Signing to play soccer at Meredith was the culmination of a decade-plus of work for Conley midfielder Tingen.
"This is what I've worked for since I was like 6, so it's really cool to make it official and know I'm going to Meredith and I'll get to continue to play soccer," Tingen said.
Tingen has 14 goals and nine assists heading into her senior season. She is a three-time all-conference performer and was all-region last season. A trip to Meredith in August wowed her that she never considered another school in her recruitment.
"The small environment and everybody was super friendly. When I went on my official visit and stayed with some of the girls, they made me feel welcome and I knew I could definitely find my place and get along with these girls,” she said.