RED SPRINGS — It was very uncommon to see Toddrick Lockhart, Tony Colson or Michael Govan without the other two somewhere nearby growing up.
After spending so much time together, the three Red Springs football seniors will stay together as they make the next step in their athletic and academic careers next fall. On Thursday in the Red Springs High School gym the trio signed to play play football at Hudson Valley Community College in New York, joining former teammate Ron Alexander, who signed in March.
“It’s just a humbling experience to grow up with these guys and now we get to go play ball together,” Lockhart said. “It still seems unreal.”
Red Springs coach Lawrence Ches stood at the podium in the gym before the three players signed and remembered to when he first coached these players in middle school.
“These three and this entire senior class is special to me personally,” Ches said. “I’ve actually been associated with these young men in the class since they were in middle school. I’ve seen them grow, seen them mature and grow into men. These three are special young men.”
Ches mentioned the character and how each kid worked hard and buckled down on their academics to reach something they didn’t think was possible a year ago. In the months leading to signing day he saw those players not only get academically ready, but physically ready as well.
“Each one of them have gained 15-20 pounds of muscle,” he said.
Lockhart and Govan will play at receiver for the Vikings and Colson will play in the defensive backfield.
“I’m glad I’m going to college, but what I like most is that I’m going to college with people I know that I can work with,” Govan said.
The three grew up together and now are excited to get to stay together, coming from where they started from.
“It’s a blessing because all three of us have come up from the projects with nothing,” Colson said. “We stayed strong and fought.”
Red Springs finished 6-6 last year with an appearance in the NCHSAA 2A state playoffs.
The move to New York is something that the group takes with cautious excitement. But with a chance in atmosphere, the focus remains — football.
“I know we are going to a new atmosphere so we’ve got to be a little careful and everything, but at the same time it’s an exciting experience,” Lockhart said. “I’ve always wanted to go to New York.”
Govan knows that going to college means an increase in his play to a heightened level of competition, and his focus and hard work is what he’s looking forward to bringing to Hudson Valley Community College.
“I know we are going to bring our work ethic,” he said.
Sakile Cheltenham contributed to this report. Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.