DUBLIN — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has plucked its second football player from West Bladen High in the past two years with Tuesday’s signing of lineman Semorrick Jessup.
Jessup will join the Braves roster in the fall, one which will also have sophomore quarterback Zach Wilcox, a 2013 West Bladen graduate.
UNCP emerged as the top choice for Jessup from among four others: Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C. Central in Durham, Western Carolina in Cullowhee and Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C.
“I went to a tryout (for UNCP) and they showed a lot of interest,” Jessup said. “And I liked their program and facilities. And I’ll know at least one person … Zach.”
Jessup, a 6-foot, 2-inch, 365-pounder, spent most of his high-school career playing on the defensive side of the ball. But the Braves have plans to move him to the offensive line.
“I don’t think he’ll have any trouble,” said West Bladen head football coach Russell Dove. “They like his size. He’s a big, strong and quick player.
“Honestly, I think he’s a diamond in the rough,” Dove added. “He’ll be a good fit. I’m excited for him.”
Dove doesn’t think Jessup will have any trouble learning the blocking assignments necessary on offense, but there will be two areas where he says Jessup will need to adjust.
“First, he’ll have to trim down some,” Dove said. “And second, like all incoming college players, he will have to adjust to the pace of the game. It’s a lot faster than it is in high school.
“But he has the strength, agility and smarts to be able to do it,” Dove added. “I think he’ll be fine.”
Dove said he could tell four years ago that Jessup had the potential for a college career.
“He came into the program as a freshman and I could see he was a hard-working, high-character individual,” Dove said. “He’s leaving some big shoes to fill here.”
Jessup was one of 12 seniors who helped lead the Knights to its first playoff appearance in a number of years. West Bladen finished 5-7 overall and 3-4 in the Four County Conference. The Knights fell in the first round of the state’s Class 2-A playoffs to powerhouse Northeastern, 39-12.