2017-12-29 / Sports

Local athletes sign National Letters of Intent

Story and Photos by Josh Cruse


Ben Lippen’s Blake Harris, Trad Beatty, and Kyle Wright sign their National Letters of Intent. Harris signed his with Army, Beatty with Temple University, and Wright with the University of North Carolina. Ben Lippen’s Blake Harris, Trad Beatty, and Kyle Wright sign their National Letters of Intent. Harris signed his with Army, Beatty with Temple University, and Wright with the University of North Carolina. The 2018 class of high school football players had their first opportunity to sign their National Letters of Intent on December 20. Airport’s Paxton Brooks and Ben Lippen’s Blake Harris, Trad Beatty, and Kyle Wright took advantage of the early signing date.

Brooks signed with the University of Tennesse, after committing to the Volunteers back on August 17. Despite coaching turmoil in Knoxville, Brooks honored his commitment.

“I just stuck with the program and the vision there, also the history and the rich past that Tennessee has,” Brooks said. “I bought more into the program and knew we could turn things around.”

For Brooks it was more about the punters who have come out of the University of Tennessee that appealed to him the most.


Airport’s Paxton Brooks signs his National Letter of Intent with the University of Tennessee. Airport’s Paxton Brooks signs his National Letter of Intent with the University of Tennessee. “It’s just the history of Tennessee and the great players who have come through there, especially on special teams—the Colquitts and the Trevor Daniels,” Brooks said. “I felt like I can develop there and hopefully one day make it to the NFL.”

Brooks said he has spoken with new Volunteers’ head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Harris signed with Army, Beatty with Temple University, and Wright with the University of North Carolina.

Beatty originally committed to Temple in June.

“For me it was about the combination of great academics and the high level of football,” Beatty said. “I had a lot of schools to choose from, but it felt like home. The strong connections with the coaching staff also helped.”

Beatty spent one season with Ben Lippen, after transferring from Chapin. The Falcons’ finished with a 7-3 record under Beatty’s guidance.

“This year was great. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different,” Beatty said. “Finding Ben Lippen and Coach White and playing with these guys was a true honor. I’m thankful to be here and spend my senior season with these guys.”

Wright signed with the Tarheels, after committing to them December 5.

“It was a dream come true for me,” Wright said. “I’ve been with them pretty much my whole life, since I was a six-year-old. It was my dream to play college football and pursue my dream of playing in the NFL. It was amazing to have so many people come out here and watch me sign with UNC and make it official.”

Wright said it was his relationships with the coaches, like head coach Larry Fedora and assistant coach Deke Adams that made an impact on him.

While the earlier signing date didn’t have an impact for Brooks and Beatty, it did for Wright.

Wright has graduated from Ben Lippen and will begin classes at the University of North Carolina on January 10.

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