RED SPRINGS — After a successful first year as head coach of the Red Springs football team, Lawrence Ches watched three of the Red Devils’ senior leaders sign their letters of intent on Tuesday to continue their careers in college.
Jerome Bass signed with The University of Charleston in West Virginia , Nichorie West signed with Fayetteville State University and Javon Simmons signed with Brevard College.
“Without these three young men, we would not have been as successful as we were this season,” Ches said.
The Red Devils finished 9-4 and advanced to the second round of the NCHSAA football championships last season.
Bass filled an integral role on that team as a fullback and linebacker. He took home Robeson County Heisman and Three Rivers Conference Defensive Player of the year honors, and he was named to the Associated Press All-State team. Those honors came after logging a league-best 160 tackles, including 19 tackles for loss. He accounted for 11 touchdowns on offense.
“I think it was sixth or seventh grade when I first started playing,” Bass said. “I knew that I had the talent for it, that I could be great if I continued to work hard.”
Bass said the “environment and atmosphere” at Charleston drew him to the school.
“I just love the city and I love the campus,” Bass said. “The coaching staff is amazing. The players give a great vibe.”
West was named to the all-county team as a defensive back last season. He also saw time as a running back and wide receiver.
“I’m ready to take it to the next level,” West said. “It’s exciting. It’s a new journey and a new chapter in my life after high school.
“The goal was to play in the NFL, but I have to focus on the now before the future. It was middle school first, now it’s high school, hopefully it’ll be through college and then to the NFL Draft.”
West said he developed good relationships throughout his recruitment process with Fayetteville State.
“They were the only ones who took me on campus to look around and tour and introduced me to the football team,” West said.
Simmons tallied 31 solo tackles and six tackles for loss this season.
“It feels amazing. It feels like a dream come true right now,” Simmons said. “I feel like I’m really starting life.
“I didn’t feel like I was really going to play college ball after high school until last year. That’s when I started falling in love with the game even more.”
Ches said the trio is well-known on and off of the field.
“We got fed by churches every week. Every single church we went to it was ‘Yes ma’m, no ma’m, yes sir, no sir,’” Ches said. “All the people at the churches knew these young men by their first names. That, to me, says a lot. I’m just proud to know them.”
For all three players, having the opportunity to represent Robeson County in college is exciting.
“Red Springs is a little town. I feel like us representing Red Springs at the next level will put Red Springs on the map, and let people know that Red Springs is a good school to go to,” Simmons said.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.