Three Catawba Ridge football players made their commitments official Wednesday as they signed to play on Saturday’s next year.
Jacobie Henderson, Andre Hodge and Cade Purgason all signed to their respective schools during a ceremony at Catawba Ridge High. All three will be playing at the Division I level next year.
Hendeson, 18, has been a highly recruited player since he was in his freshman year at Nation Ford. Henderson came to Catawba Ridge when it opened three seasons ago and has been lighting up highlight reels since the opening kickoff his sophomore year. He will be going to Marshall University.
“When it (the program) started it was a big undertaking,” said Catawba Ridge head football coach Zac Lendyak. “These guys have proven if you buy in and believe, anything can happen. I am so proud of them.”
A defensive back, Henderson had about 17 offers to choose from, but narrowed his main picks down to Yale, Coastal Carolina, Middle Tennessee, Liberty and Central Michigan. He took a visit to Marshall over the summer, he knew that was where he wanted to be.
Henderson said he was impressed with what Marshall had to offer as a school and their facilities as well. He said he also liked head coach Charles Huff who gave him an insight not many other coaches did.
“The coach had a plan for me,” Henderson said. “He also told me my weaknesses. No other coach did that. I liked that.”
Henderson could continue in his role as a defensive back for Marshall when he sees playing time, and could also see some time at cornerback or may move to nickel some as well. Also, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on offense either if the Thundering Herd needed him there.
A three-sport athlete, who also ran track and played basketball, Henderson will be heading to Marshall in January after graduating early. He plans on majoring in law.
Hodge, 17, committed to Wake Forest in mid-June. He was also offered by Marshall, as well as Ohio, Harvard, Lehigh, Air Force, Navy, Liberty, Appalachian State, and Georgia State, just to name a few.
Landing multiple offers from Division I schools shouldn’t come as a surprise as Hodge has a lengthy pedigree of NFL relatives including second cousin and Hall of Famer Ed Reed.
Despite never taking an official visit, Hodge got an offer to Wake Forest after attending a camp there. He knew when the offer came, he was ready to commit. He plans on majoring in engineering.
“I liked their engineering program,” Hodge said. “I felt welcomed there. I knew it was the place for me.”
Hodge said he will be finishing his senior year and will graduate in May. He said the three other top choices besides Wake Forest was Harvard, Navy and Appalachian State. A cornerback, Hodge will be sticking to that position once he gets to the Winston-Salem school as well.
“Andre is a fantastic young man,” Lendyak said. “He had done everything right from day one. Andre is a great example of putting in the work.”
Purgason, 18, will be going to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. The offensive lineman, Purgason was known for his worth ethic and tenacity in the trenches for the Copperheads. But he was also known for his quiet resolve.
“The only thing that I thought Cade knew how to say was, “Yes sir,” Lendyak said. “He did everything we ever asked of him. Cade is a true example of doing what needs to be done. To make a commitment to a service academy says who he is and a lot about his character.”
Purgason said he is thinking about majoring in political science, but is undecided at the moment. He said he wanted to continue to play football and also looked at Lenoir-Rhyne University and Wingate University. He said the Naval Academy was the right choice for him to be able to continue his education and football career.
“To me it was an opportunity to play football at the highest level in college and be able to serve my country as well,” he said.
He will have to serve a minimum of four years after college in the U.S. Navy, but said he might make a career out of it.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep