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Brunt signs NLI with James Madison

Lincolnton football standout Zoauntarrious Brunt signed a national letter of intent to play at James Madison University. Pictured are, from left to right, front row: Lincolnton Principal Heath Belcher, Zoauntarrious Brunt and Abbor-Gene Wilson; back row: Wolves assistant coach David Byrd, head coach Scott Cloninger and assistant coach Bobby McLaughlin.

Lincolnton football standout Zoauntarrious Brunt signed a national letter of intent to play at James Madison University. Pictured are, from left to right, front row: Lincolnton Principal Heath Belcher, Zoauntarrious Brunt and Abbor-Gene Wilson; back row: Wolves assistant coach David Byrd, head coach Scott Cloninger and assistant coach Bobby McLaughlin.

By RYAN HERMAN
Sports Editor

Zoauntarrious Brunt spent just one football season at Lincolnton High, but it was enough to help get him the full ride he’s been dreaming about.
The 6-foot-3, 165-pound defensive back signed early last week a national letter of intent –– and received a full scholarship –– to play football at James Madison University in Virginia.
Brunt, who led the Wolves and Lincoln County in tackles last season with 126, came to Lincolnton via spending his freshman and junior years at Gastonia Forestview, and his sophomore year at North Lincoln.
It took just one day with the Wolves for him to realize why they’ve been so successful.
“It was just work, that’s all it was. And it starts in the classroom. I just busted my tail,” Brunt said. “My mom was like, ‘It’d be a great opportunity if you graduated from my high school,’ so I said I’d try it. I came down here during the summer and we just clicked. I knew this was my home.
“They treat you like family here.”
The same can be said for the Dukes.
“It just felt like as if I was here. I know I’m going to have to work up there,” Brunt said.
Brunt was a late bloomer in terms of the recruiting process. He said he took the SAT late, and he was late getting his game film out to prospective suitors.
James Madison coaches were in town earlier this year inquiring about star defensive lineman Darian Roseboro, when former Lincolnton assistant and new Huntersville SouthLake Christian head coach Bobby McLaughlin brought up Brunt’s name and abilities, Brunt said.
The Dukes coaches were shown film, and, a few months later, Brunt had his future degree in sports medicine paid for.
“They said they really liked me,” he said.
Brunt, who said he’ll play primarily as a safety and possibly some offense as a wide receiver and on special teams, is set to arrive in Harrisonburg, Va., on June 19, he said.
Brunt said he had some offers from several Division II schools and junior colleges, and even had a walk-on offer from N.C. State, but the full athletic scholarship from a FCS program that will open the season at Maryland, and play at Charlotte on Oct. 25, was took much to turn down.
“It’s a blessing. It’s been a long time coming. I turned down a lot of (Division II, junior college) scholarships, because I knew if I kept working I’d go D-I,” Brunt said.
“I didn’t want my parents to pay all that money.”
Wolves head coach Scott Cloninger, a Lincolnton lifer who’s been at the helm since 2000 and whose teams have played for three state titles and won one, feels Brunt has been one of the best at his position to don the gold and black.
And Cloninger only had Brunt for roughly four months.
“He’s probably one of the best defensive players we’ve had as a cover man. … The thing about ‘Z’ is he’s a big, tall, rangy kid that can cover, but he also loves to hit and can come up and fill the alley, which a good safety should be able to do.,” Cloninger said.
“It’s been a fun year with him. We wish he’d been here a little longer.”
Brunt is related to former Lincolnton standouts Brandon and C.J. Wilson, the latter of whom is currently in the NFL.
Five to six years from now, that’s where Brunt wants to be.
And he’ll do whatever it takes to get there.
“I’m gonna take it step-by-step to make it to the league,” Brunt said. “I don’t want to let Lincolnton down, or my parents. I just want to try and be the best.”
“It’s just all what’s in your heart. If you can play you can play. … To be the best you have to beat the best.”

Image courtesy of Lincolnton High School

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