A trio of Andrews High School football players, who also happen to be cousins, are headed to Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina.
Brandon Johnson, Tyreike Steele and Demontre Wright signed to play football for the Vikings on April 27.
“This day is very special,” Johnson said. “It shows that the hard work has paid off … (but) we still have to grind on the collegiate level.”
Steele said getting the opportunity to play football at the next level means “the world” to him.
“It means a lot to me to find and live my dream and go on with the next chapter of my life,” Wright said.
Andrews Coach Scott Durham called the three “great kids” and hard workers. All three played as freshmen, and then were starters in their sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
Steele led the Yellow Jackets offense in 2016 with 1,214 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry and 101 yards per game. He scored five touchdowns against both Mullins and Hemingway, and four touchdowns against both Kingstree and Allendale-Fairfax.
“He’s almost impossible to knock backward,” Durham said. “He’s got a low center of gravity and great lower body strength. In short-yardage situations, he’s going to fall forward.”
Steele also led the Andrews defense with 92 tackles, including 7 ½ for a loss.
Durham said Steele is big, strong, fast and can “do everything.”
Wright was second on the Andrews defense with 68 tackles, including five for a loss.
“He was the guy we could always count on on defense to be in the right place,” Durham said. “”He was the one guy to … get us in the right position and make sure everybody was in the right place. A very football-intelligent kid.”
Johnson had 51 tackles for the Yellow Jackets defense, including 6 ½ for a loss. He was one of only two Georgetown County players chosen for the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl - North vs. South in December.
Durham said Johnson worked hard and was a “tremendous” player.
“They’re getting a steal,” Durham added. “He’s strong (and) he’s got really good feet. He’s just really hard to block. … He can disrupt an offense in a hurry.”
Durham said any high school athlete needs to understand that playing a sport in college is a “job.”
“It’s a shock to everybody, no matter what level you play at,” Durham said. “You go from something you do a couple hours a day to something you do eight hours a day. … It’s a difficult transition.”
Steele expects the biggest transition to be the speed of the players and the level of talent.
“In college they’re faster and they’re bigger, so I’ve got to get faster and stronger,” he said.
“Everybody is the ‘big dog’ for the team,” Wright said. “We’ve all got to push harder to live up to the competition.”
Johnson expects the biggest transition will be adapting to the more rigorous schedule of practice, workouts and classes.
All three are excited to be attending the college together.
“I am so blessed,” Johnson said. “They are my cousins, but more than that, we were raised up as brothers since diaper days. … Having them with me at the next level means that we are with each other, we’ll help each other out, and we’re going to succeed and (be) on to bigger and better things.”
“Those are my brothers so it’s going to be fun,” Steele said.
“It means the world to me to keep on playing at the next level with my brothers,” Wright said.
Durham hopes that his younger plays see that a college scholarship is “possible.”
“Our guys can go and play anywhere,” he said. “Wherever the opportunity is, you’ve got to go and take it. … Find wherever you can fit in, and go there and be the best you can be.”
Johnson, Wright and Steele all said they had to work harder in the classroom than on the field to be able to get an opportunity to play at the next level.
Steele said he started out a “little rough” at school, so he had to work harder.
“Football always came kind of simple because I knew what I was doing, but in the classroom I had to work harder for years to try to make it to this point,” Steele said.
Johnson plans to be a pre-med major with an eye on becoming a dentist, Steele wants to be a teacher and a coach, and Wright plans to major in engineering.