Two Yellow Jackets, one Cavalier sign with Campbell
Two Yellow Jacket football players officially decided they will remain teammates at the college level on Wednesday, which was National Signing Day for thousands of senior student-athletes across the country.
Thomas Ferguson and Pressley Hales signed National Letters of Intent committing to Campbell University and the Fighting Camel football program. The two Jackets also picked up another soon-to-be Camel teammate.
Southern Lee's Aaron Blockmon officially signed with Campbell Wednesday morning. He'll have a signing ceremony with family, teammates and coaches later this month. A few minutes after Ferguson and Hales completed the signatures, Blockmon stopped in for a couple minutes to share congrats with friendly, cross-county rivals who will soon be Camel teammates.
Ferguson has been a four-year varsity player and three-year starter at defensive end for the Yellow Jackets, finishing his senior season by earning a spot on the North Carolina team in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.
Ferguson and Hales, a safety, both earned first-team All-Cape Fear Valley Conference honors last season.
Blockmon earned all-conference and all-state honors as one of the state's best wide receivers. He totaled 72 receptions, 1,572 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.
Ferguson and Hales were joined by family, coaches, friends and teachers for a short ceremony, with Campbell baseball caps alongside the official paperwork, Wednesday morning.
"These are two fine young men, very respectful young men," said Lee County athletic director Reggie Peace. "Thomas and Pressley are fine role models for our other athletes here."
Foster Cates, who is the main recruiting coordinator on the Yellow Jacket football coaching staff, said Ferguson and Hales had multiple offers and lots of choices to work through, more so thanks to their academic record than any football ability.
"The biggest, and best, thing of all is their work academically. Both of them have over 4.3 GPAs," Cates said.
"We both had a couple of places to choose from," Hales said.
A campus visit to Buies Creek helped both Jackets reach their decisions.
"It's exciting to commit together, to possibly room together and play together for the next four years," Ferguson said.
The Camels went 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the Pioneer Football League in their first year under head coach Mike Minter. The energy Minter, who played safety on two national-champion Nebraska teams, then for 10 seasons with the Carolina Panthers, brings to building Campbell's program drew Ferguson and Hales there.
"You have to like his enthusiasm," Hales said. "He's done it in college and the pros, so he knows what it takes.
"At practices, he's a coach who's right there on the field, doing what you're doing, showing you. He really interacts with his players," Hales said.
Going to school and playing football close to home drew both Jackets to Campbell as well.
"That's one of the main things that helped with the decision - it's about family," Ferguson said.
Friends and family will be able to make it to lots of the games. It's a two-way street as far as the benefits, though.
"You can pretty much go home and get a meal," said Ferguson. "A home-cooked meal," said Hales. "On Sundays," Ferguson said.
"We definitely thank God," Ferguson said, "give all the thanks to God, our families and our coaches."
In the meantime, the football offseason doesn't stop, and hadn't stopped, for the two Jackets, even as they're moving out of their Lee County careers now.
"Actually (our workouts) have gone up since the season ended," Hales said.
"Now it's about doing everything we can to succeed at the next level," Ferguson said. "We want to do anything we can to contribute to our new team and help any way we can."