HAVELOCK | The tradition continues.
Three Havelock Rams signed their national letter of intent to play college football Wednesday on National Signing Day.
Wide receiver Quinzel Lockhart is headed to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., defensive lineman Destin Flloyd will play at Elon and defensive back Montrece Gatling is signed to play at Virginia Military Academy.
“This is really big for me,” said Gatling. “It’s been a long journey. My coaches, family and everyone I’ve played with helped me get here.”
Lockhart committed to Navy months ago and made it official to join the prestigious school.
The 6-foot-1 wide out knows the responsibilities and what accompanies his commitment.
“I understand all the adversity that I am going to take,” Lockhart said. “I’m prepared for that adversity. Coach (at Havelock) told me that anything given to us is not worth taking.
“I want to work for everything I get and I want it to be worth it.”
Flloyd, Havelock’s leading tackler the past two seasons, recently de-committed from Army, took a visit to Elon and made the decision to play for the Phoenix.
Elon competes in the FCS, formerly Division I-AA. The Phoenix, coached by Curt Cignetti, compiled a 2-9 record last season.
Flloyd posted 105 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and six sacks for the Rams this past season.
“It’s a great feeling. Football is my sport, this is my dream. I finally get to play it in college and play at the Division-I level,” Flloyd said.
Gatling was a lockdown cornerback for the Rams and hopes to contribute to VMI beginning with his freshman season, using his physicality and speed as a weapon.
Despite being a military school, Gatling noted that students aren’t required to make a military commitment after they graduate.
“I’m going to bring a physicality, speed, ball skills and someone who is ready to step in from day one. They want someone who is going to bring in fire to the defense and be enthusiastic about being out there,” Gatling said. “It’s a hard-working program, a military school. I think we are going to be on the rise and the recruiting class we have coming in is really good. I think it’s going to be a good four years.”
Gatling, at 5-foot-9, had 39 tackles for Havelock this past season with two interceptions.
VMI, an FCS program, went 3-8 this past season.
The challenge is different for Lockhart, who will have to make a military commitment, along with putting his focus toward the football program, playing in the American Athletic Conference.
“I learned not to give up,” Lockhart said. “I’ve gone through a lot of adversity at Havelock and all I have to do is overcome it and do what I’m supposed to do.”
The Rams’ leading receiver watched others from Havelock High sign their letters of intent and made it a goal to be a part of it.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Lockhart said. “Growing up, I wanted to play football with the big guys. I saw them sign, so I wanted to do that too. That motivated me to get here today.”
Navy runs a triple-option offense, making it a run-first team. The Midshipmen posted a 9-5 record, was in the Top 25 at a point this past season, and ended their season with a 48-45 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Lockhart caught 53 passes for 851 yards with six touchdowns this past season.
Flloyd is intended on doing whatever it takes to succeed in college.
“I’m going to bring whatever I have to bring. If they want me to play one position, I will play it. I will do whatever it takes to help the team,” Flloyd said. “I learned that it takes a lot to be a man. It takes a lot to go out there and show people who you are. You have to show people who you are on and off the field. There’s a lot of respect and pride here.”
Havelock posted a record of 13-2 this past season and made it to the NCHSAA 3-A East Regional Finals.
Adam Thompson is the Sports Editor at the Sun Journal. He can be contacted at 252-635-5669. Follow Adam on Twitter @A_ThompsonNBSJ