CHAPEL HILL In what has become a midwinter ritual for Chapel Hill-Carrbro City Schools, several local student-athletes formalized their commitments to play for various college programs with brief ceremonies on “National Signing Day.”
Diver James Brady signed for N.C. State and soccer player Brynn Donnelly for UNC Wilmington’s women’s soccer team Wednesday at East Chapel Hill, where sheet cake and balloons were part of the celebration.
“The new coach (Yahya Radman) has been building up the program at State; they’re just killing it over there,” said Brady, who started training as a youngster alongside future Olympic bronze medalist Nick McCrory, another East alum. “I just wanted to be part of that growing team.”
Donnelly chose UNC Wilmington because “I thought it was a real good fit for me academically and athletically. ... I know a lot of students from East who go there, even if they’re not athletes.”
Ted Bilden, a 6-feet-1, 245-pound center and defensive lineman, inked a commitment Wednesday to play football next year for Rhodes College in Tennessee. Bilden played four years for Carrboro, which went 15-1 and reached the 2A state championship game his freshman year.
Chapel Hill quarterback Connor Stough waited until Thursday before signing for UNC Pembroke in a small, public ceremony in the CHHS library. Stough contemplated playing baseball in college, but opted for football shortly after completing an 11-4 season his junior year and reaching the state semifinals.
“Conner put in the extra work a player needs to do to reach the next level,” Chapel Hill football head coach Issac Marsh said. “He’s worked hard. He stays after practice with his teammates, working on routes and the timing. He’s in the weight room when no one else is in the weight room. And he works with the other players, always encouraging them to get better.”
“Signing day” actually is only the first day of a period designated by the NCAA for college commitments, and Feb. 3 was opening day of a two-month period for only football and soccer. The first signing day for all other NCAA sports, including basketball, is April 13.
Marsh noted that players Brian Korfas and Brian Jones had yet to sign officially for Denison College in Ohio, and that Albert Nyamayaro planned to make his decision soon.
“We still got a couple of months to go, so I expect we’ll be doing this again soon,” Marsh said.
Below is a list of area class of 2016 athletes who have committed to play a sport in college.
Carrboro: Ted Bilden, football, Rhodes College (Tenn.); Simon Deshusses, boys swimming, Washington (Mo.); Magnus Herweyer, boys track and field, Williams College (Mass.); William Macmillan, boys swimming, Stanford; Mia Morrell, girls swimming, Emory (Fla.)
Chapel Hill: Max Blackburn, boys cross country, Colorado College; Morgan Brandewie, girls soccer, Emory (Fla.); C.J. Eron, boys swimming, Tampa; Katharine Esterley, volleyball, North Carolina; Paige Haskins, girls lacrosse, Mary Washington (Va.); Anna Passannante, girls cross country, Williams College (Mass.); Connor Stough, football, UNC-Pembroke
East Chapel Hill: James Brady, diving, N.C. State; Christopher Cox, boys lacrosse, Tampa; Brynn Donnelly, girls soccer, UNC Wilmington
Orange: Chandler Compton, boys soccer, Wofford; Montana Davidson, softball, Mississippi State; Brad Debo, baseball, South Carolina; Andi McKinnon, volleyball Emory (Fla.); Lionel Reid-Shaw, boys soccer, Dickinson College (Pa.); Bryse Wilson, baseball, North Carolina