Signature here: National singing day collects five local athletes
By PATRICK MASON
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
National signing day arrived on Wednesday and a number of local athletes made decisions on their athletic futures.
A pair of Rocky Mount Academy seniors faxed in their decisions, bringing the total number of college commitments to eight from the Eagles’ senior class, while two Tarboro football players committed to play in college. Elsewhere, a Southern Nash senior signed to play football.
For Tarboro, defensive lineman Melik Ward signed to play football at N.C A&T and classmate and linemate Hunter Medford signed to play at Barton College.
Rocky Mount Academy’s Barrett Eidson signed to play soccer at UNC Asheville, a Division I program. Also for the Eagles, Woodall Rose signed to play baseball at Methodist University, which plays in the USA South Conference with N.C. Wesleyan.
Southern Nash’s Lamont Williams signed to play football at Chowan.
Ward, who was recruited to play on the Aggies’ defensive line, was a four-year varsity starter for the Vikings who helped the team to win two state championships over the past two seasons. Ward had 69 tackles, five sacks, and a team-high 22 tackles for a loss this past season, anchoring a defense that allowed 62 points over 15 games.
The senior held a well-attended ceremony at the high school Wednesday night, and announced his decision by pulling out of a bag and wearing a white N.C. A&T visor after reading a prepared speech.
“I was working on that speech for about three days now,” Ward said. “I didn’t want to forget anyone who helped me along the way.”
Ward said there were other schools that heavily recruited him, and his decision to play for the Aggies came down to the final days. He didn’t make a decision until late Monday night. And when he signed on Wednesday, everything felt right.
“I was in the car listening to music after I signed, and I saw my name on N.C. A&T’s Instagram and Twitter,” Ward said. “So once I saw that it really hit me. That’s when I really realized this is happening.”
Medford is part of Barton College’s inaugural signing class. The college will begin its first football season since 1950, back when it was Atlantic Christian College. The Bulldogs will begin play in 2020, and will play a schedule that mirrors that of the Division II South Atlantic Conference.
For Medford, a 280-pound two-way lineman, he and the rest of the 2019 class will spend this upcoming season preparing for 2020 by working out and staying in shape. And the prospect of being part of the first Barton College football class was too great to pass up.
“It’s a new program and I’m excited to be a part of something like this,” Medford said. “It’s exciting to think that I’ll be part of the first graduating football class at the college someday.
“I’ve always wanted to play college football because being part of a team and a brotherhood is always something I’ve loved. I’m looking forward to getting to know this new team and doing it all over again.”
Medford had 56 tackles, including 10 for a loss, and had a pair of sacks this past year for Tarboro.
The Rocky Mount Academy senior is headed to Division I UNC Asheville, and the process happened quick.
Eidson was urged to take a look at the program on the recommendation from her club soccer coach over the summer. She was told that she would enjoy the team’s play stye and the environment.
Eidson verbally committed a couple weeks ago, and made the decision final on Wednesday. She still hasn’t visited the school, but has heard good things about the picturesque college town. She has visited mountain landscapes in places like Boone and Blowing Rock, and knew she wanted an outdoors experience like that.
“The town is supposed to be awesome,” Eidson said. “I was originally looking at UNC Greensboro, but that sort of fell through. I signed here and I’m looking forward to it. I definitely feel less stressed and anxious.”
As a center midfielder, Eidson finished second on the Eagles in goals last season with 19 to go with four assists over 13 games.
Rose, the ace of the Rocky Mount Academy pitching staff, committed to play at Methodist University where the program is excited to take advantage of his pitching abilities.
Rose tossed a team-high 28 innings last season and tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 34. The senior plays some infield when not on the mound, but is most valuable when pitching. His ability to throw a number of breaking pitches for strikes, no matter the count, is his strongest asset.
“Being able to pitch is huge, that’s what I really wanted to do,” Rose said. “When I went and visited the coaches said they really liked how I pitch, and how I worked the strike zone. They saw me over the summer at a camp about halfway through the summer and started following me a bit.”
At Southern Nash, senior Lamont Williams signed to play football at NCAA Division II Chowan, a decision the Firebird made over the weekend.
Williams played in 11 games for Southern Nash this past fall as a linebacker, and finished with four sacks, 63 tackles, and 19 tackles for a loss.