by Marty Simpkins
WAKE FOREST — Four Heritage High School football players officially signed with their college teams Wednesday morning.
The players are Matt Baker, Gershom Ejoni, Jeff Gemmell and Josh Murphy.
Baker signed with Elon University on a full-ride scholarship and actually made his decision right after the football season ended in December. Although Baker led his team in rushing last year, he will play full-time linebacker at Elon.
“Playing on defense will help me get a better feel for how Elon plays and the style they run,” Baker said. “It will help me learn the plays a lot better since I won’t be switching from offense to defense all the time.”
Gershom Ejoni currently plays basketball for the Huskies, but made his decision to sign with Richmond University as a wide receiver. He said that the decision to play for the Spiders with a full-ride scholarship was an easy one.
“When Richmond offered me a full-ride scholarship, I automatically felt like it was the school for me,” Ejoni said. “I love the campus, the atmosphere, the alumni and the support the school has had. It just felt like home. The people are nice and they would come to my basketball games and support me and cheer me on. It was like a father/son relationship with them.”
Jeff Gemmell will attend UNC Charlotte next year on a full scholarship and even though he was known for catching touchdown passes as a tight end for the Huskies, he will play outside linebacker for the 49ers.
“I think playing defense full-time will affect me in a positive way,” Gemmell said. “I’m a defense-minded player. I love to hit and get after the ball.”
Gemmell also added that he is excited to play for a young football program at Charlotte and can’t wait to be a part of their team.
“I’ve been over there a few times and I feel extremely comfortable at Charlotte,” Gemmell said. “There’s something about Charlotte. It’s a special place. On my initial visit, all the players were really cool. I’m just really looking forward to going up there honestly.”
Josh Murphy signed with Mars Hill University to play defensive back for the Lions. He said the biggest reason for the signing was the great personal relationship he had with the coaching staff.
“The school size makes it feel like a really good community to be in,” Murphy said. “The coaches were the first ones to contact me and give me attention, so I took that into my decision.”
All four players said that they’re going to miss high school life and the toughest transition thing will be leaving their old teammates to play with new ones.
“Being under those Friday night lights with guys that I’ve known since middle school is what I’m going to miss the most,” Baker said. “There’s still more things to come at college and playing on Saturdays.”
“I’ve known some of my friends since elementary school,” Ejoni said. “Going on to Virginia, I’m going to miss them and I’m just thankful for what I have.”
“The biggest thing I’m going to miss about high school is the tight-knit community you have with everybody,” Gemmell said. “I’ve been used to growing up with these guys and playing high school football together. Now, I’m going to be playing with guys from different states, so it’s definitely going to open up my world a little bit.”
“I’m going to miss my brothers on the football team,” Murphy added. “I’ve been playing with them for so long and I’ve known Gershom for five years. It’s going to be crazy leaving those guys.”