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BOILING SPRING LAKES—Seated behind a long table in the South Brunswick High School library, James Robey was the center of attention as he waited for one of the biggest moments of his young life.
With a few subtle movements of his right hand, it was over.
“I feel relieved really, glad the whole process is over with,” Robey said last Wednesday after signing a national letter of intent to play football at The Citadel. “I’m ready to get started, ready to get down there.”
Robey was the only high school football player from Brunswick County to finalize his college plans on National Signing Day. He had made a verbal commitment while visiting the Charleston, S.C., military school in January.
A 6-foot-3, 200-pound tight end, Robey will receive a full scholarship valued at more than $100,000, according to South Brunswick football coach Gordon Walters.
“Any time you have a kid that signs at the Division I or I-AA level I think it’s very exciting,” Walters said. “What makes it so great is the kid is such a great student, such a great kid.”
The son of David and Terri Robey said The Citadel started recruiting him during his sophomore year.
He chose the school for its combination of athletics and academics.
“Football wise, they’re in the Southern Conference and they play Appalachian State and they play a couple of D-I schools like Clemson and Florida. They play a pretty tough schedule,” Robey said.
“They got a really strong alumni network and that was a big deal. My dad went to the University of South Carolina, and he knows a lot of Citadel guys and how powerful the Citadel name is in South Carolina, so that was a big factor.”
Robey was a two-way starter for the Cougars last season, playing tight end on offense and end or outside linebacker on defense.
He had five touchdown catches as a tight end and earned Class 2A all-state honors at the position from ncpreps.com. He also was among the team’s leading tacklers and received the defensive MVP award.
Robey was an all-county and first-team all-conference selection and helped South Brunswick finish 7-4 overall and advance to the state playoffs for the second year in a row.
Walters said Robey is a product of hard work.
“He has worked really hard and I think our kids understand that. It’s not just that he’s a superstar up here. They understand how hard he’s worked, which hopefully will be a catalyst to make them work harder also,” Walters said.
Many of Robey’s teammates were on hand for the signing, as were South Brunswick principal Vann Pennell and most of the football coaching staff.
Robey’s No. 4 home and away jerseys were draped over the head table, which featured a centerpiece of South Brunswick and Citadel football helmets. Game film was shown on a video screen behind Robey.
Robey said it was great to have his teammates with him for the big day and he thanked the people who helped him achieve his goal of getting the opportunity to play college football.
“I want to thank Coach Rusk and Coach Freeman and Coach Walters and Coach Thomas and all the coaches and everybody who has ever helped me. I just want to thank them,” he said.
“I always kind of knew after my sophomore year that I could possibly, potentially get (a scholarship). It was one of my goals.”
After the signing, Walters talked glowingly of Robey and what he expects will be a bright future on and off the gridiron.
“It’s just amazing. Whenever one of my kids signs it’s like they’re leaving the nest and they’re flying away and they get to see just how big and beautiful the world is,” Walters said.
“He’s going to do a great job and he’s going to really contribute to society, and that’s what I’m proud of. James is going to do well and I think that starts from the home.”
Robey was one of 25 players who signed last week with The Citadel. The recruiting class also includes wide receiver Luke Caldwell from Wilmington’s Hoggard High School.