ROCKINGHAM — A pair of “lifelong friends” kicked off National Signing Day side by side in the school library Wednesday morning, sharing arguably the most special moment of their high school careers in front of family, friends and coaches.
Richmond’s Chase Coulthard and Dante Miller, after speaking to the crowd about their journeys, signed their letters of intent to play college football at UNC-Pembroke and Columbia University (N.Y.), respectively.
“It means everything. As lifelong friends and brothers, this is awesome,” Coulthard said of the duo’s big day. “To be able to continue to play football and represent Rockingham and Hamlet is just what you grow up dreaming of.”
Coulthard, an offensive lineman, didn’t make his decision to become a Brave until this past weekend but mentioned that going through such a tough process was “worth it.” His recruitment, according to Raiders’ head coach Bryan Till, really picked up at the top of the new year once all the necessary information began rolling in.
Wingate University also showed interest in the senior but it was UNCP’s consistency — added on to the fact that he’ll be only an hour away from his family — that got Coulthard to commit.
“They (UNCP) have been with me since the beginning of the process,” he said. “I went up for a few games, toured the campus, got to meet the players and see the campus life…it just feels like home there.”
Having an opportunity to actually go back home is part of the reason Coulthard’s signing partner decommitted from James Madison University (Va.) last month and verbally agreed to join Columbia’s football program in the fall.
Miller, a running back, and his family are originally from New York but moved here nearly a decade ago. With his decision to return to the Empire State, he becomes the first-ever Raider athlete to go to the Ivy League for sports.
“It feels pretty good to start the trend and show my brothers that they, too, can go to an Ivy League school,” he said. “It also feels good knowing all of the hard work amounted to something and that I’m making my mom and family proud.”
Both signees had strong senior campaigns in 2017, as they worked together to help the team to a second-place finish in the conference standings. Coulthard was named All-SAC Honorable Mention after he spent 11 games keeping defenders from the quarterback and creating holes for runners like Miller, who rushed for 1,327 yards and 19 TDs on his way to a second consecutive all-conference nod.
“I know he’s worked really hard and he really deserves this,” Miller said of Coulthard. “It’s great to see him smiling with his family.”
As Till watched his now former players talk about how much it means for them to have an opportunity to play at the next level, and then celebrate with those in attendance, he began to realize how much he’s going to miss what Miller and Coulthard brought the program in his first season.
Every Friday night, Till said, he knew he could count on them to go out and execute every play call.
“Even though I wasn’t here (for the past three seasons), I’ve gotten a better picture of these kids. And the reason they’re here is because they’ve done what they’re supposed to do for four years,” Till said. “It’s been a pleasure to coach these guys and be around them for the last year.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.