VALE –– As a child, Austin May listened to stories of his uncle’s playing days at Furman, and decided that one day there would be stories about his own college football experience.
Chapter one is set to be written next fall.
May, a tight end at West Lincoln, has signed a national letter of intent to play football at Wingate University.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound senior said joining his uncle on the family’s list of college football players has been a goal since childhood.
“I’ve thought about that and how I could be like my uncle and go play college football,” May said. “It’s been like a motivation.”
May is the first player under head coach Tom Sain to sign a NLI, and the first from the school since Will Poteat signed with Wingate in 2009.
Sain, almost like a proud father, said Wednesday’s signing ceremony was well-deserved for a student-athlete who’s worked so hard for so many years.
“Austin has worked so hard while being at West Lincoln,” Sain said. “He’s reached his goal of becoming a college football player through hard work and preparation in the weight room, on the field and in the classroom.”
While it has been a long road –– countless hours and repetitions in the weight room and on the practice field –– May’s tunnel vision towards making a college roster, on scholarship, has helped him deal make it.
“With all the work I put in it didn’t seem as hard as I went along,” he said.
May, who said he wants to major in physical therapy, said earning a Division II or higher athletic scholarship has been his main focus since childhood.
“It was very important. I’ve been thinking about it a long time that that’s what I wanted to do,” May said. “I worked all throughout high school –– and before that –– to get here.”
The Rebels have enjoyed four of their best seasons in school history since May, and the rest of his senior teammates, first walked its halls as freshmen.
This year’s senior class is second all-time in total varsity wins at 24, behind 31 wins enjoyed by the classes of 1969-71.
The Class of 2014 went undefeated as kids during an optimist season, won the county and conference titles as seventh and eighth graders, and repeated undefeated seasons as freshmen and sophomores on the junior varsity squad, May said.
Last season’s senior class knew how to win, and knew what it took to do so.
“My whole senior class has worked hard all four years we were here,” May said. “We came together, and we knew we had the talent, the skill and the size to be successful.”
As a tight end May had four catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, and helped block for a run-first offense that rushed for more than 3,200 yards.
May’s versatility has caught the eyes of Wingate’s coaches, and they have told May, he said, that he could be used at tight end, on the offensive line, and even on the defensive line during his tenure with the Bulldogs.
“If they need me as a tackle I have the good footwork to be a tackle. If they need me as a tight end I could be a tight end. They’ve also discussed moving me to defensive line, and I could do that,” May said.
Now that May is officially headed to college as a football player, his next goal is to be one of Wingate’s top players.
“I hope to definitely earn a starting position,” he said.