Monday, 25 January 2021 19:38

COMMITTED: Jones to join Wingate Bulldogs on full ride

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COMMITTED: Jones to join Wingate Bulldogs on full ride Photo credit - Wingate University football.

ROCKINGHAM — Two months after impressing at a regional combine, Tremel Jones has found his new home for the next four years.

The Richmond Senior High School wide receiver tweeted Monday afternoon that he was verbally committing to play at Wingate University. His announcement came on the first day that the Raiders resumed team workouts ahead of the new season.

Now the sixth senior Raider football player to commit to the next level, Jones wrapped up a winding, and sometimes uncertain, recruitment process. 

“First off I want to thank God and my grandma for continuing to watch over me and bless me day by day,” Jones’ tweet said. “I want to thank all my coaches and family members who’ve helped shape me into the man that I am becoming.

“I also want to thank my mother for setting the highest standards for me, being a role model, never giving up on me, pushing me, and being the biggest supporter on my team no matter the outcome,” he added.

Jones then said he would be joining Wingate University and added #OneDog at the end of his tweet.

Battling through the unprecedented unknowns of the recruitment process during the pandemic, Jones said he never lost hope that he would one day play college football. 

“I never gave up because I never wanted to let go of the dream of playing college football,” Jones said. “This is something I’ve wanted to experience since I was a little kid. I’m a dream chaser and won't stop until I get there.”

The 5-9, 174-pound wideout had two offers on the table, one from Wingate and the other from Lenoir-Rhyne University. He had also visited Mars Hill University and UNC-Pembroke, two other schools that showed interest.

Helping put himself on the map was his performance at the VTO Sports Regional Combine just before Thanksgiving in Raleigh. Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds, recorded a 42-inch vertical and bench pressed 185 pounds a total of 17 times.

Two days after the combine, Jones received an official offer from the Bulldogs on Nov. 24. The difference maker in choosing Wingate, he explained, was going to visit the campus this past weekend and receiving a full-ride scholarship.

“It’s a dream come true, especially to tell parents I don’t have to pay school and I get to play football,” Jones said. “I was in a predicament with not having a (regular) senior season in the fall, so I’m blessed that God was able to help me through this process.

“When the coaches said I was getting a full scholarship, they really sold me on the opportunity to come be a first-year starter and make an impact on the team,” he added. “Visiting campus last weekend sealed the deal — it really felt like home.”

Jones said that Wingate’s coaching staff went above and beyond to make him feel like a part of the team. He noted that the coaches made him see that being a Bulldog will make him become a better man on and off the field, and he said he’s looking forward to building a relationship with the program.

Jones’ effort in the classroom has also been praised heavily by Richmond head coach Bryan Till and wide receivers coach Greg Williams. While at Wingate, Jones plans to major in business. The future Bulldog said the size of the university is a good fit for him and that the idea of it being so close to home helped him choose the team.

Williams took to Twitter to congratulate Jones, writing that the senior is “an awesome football player that does an awesome job in the classroom.”

In a breakout season last fall as a junior, Jones was tied with Dalton Stroman (Appalachian State signee) for second on the team with 31 receptions. His 485 receiving yards and three touchdowns were both third-best for Richmond. 

“He’s really continued to be a model for our guys and how players should be working hard,” Till said. “Tremel has always done well in the classroom and that bolstered his opportunities. He’s put on body weight and muscle mass, and maintained his speed and ability to run.

“It’s great to see guys reap the rewards of putting in hard work,” he added. “Wingate packaged him up nicely and that shows the value they have in him to help their program. There’s a lot of permanence in that coaching staff, so it’s a great chance for him to succeed.”

Noting he still has a lot that he wants to prove, Jones said his time as a Richmond Raider better prepared him for college. 

“Being a Raider has allowed me to understand what it takes to be a great football player and great man,” Jones explained. “Raiders are held to a higher standard and I have to live by that on or off the field.

“I’ve been pushed by my coaches in the weight room and have been taught to work hard when I’m by myself. Some college coaches have told me that we play ‘real football’ at Richmond and that’s been a plus.”

Jones will be joining a Bulldogs team coached by Joe Reich, a 20-year veteran. In 2019, Wingate went 10-2, which was a school record for victories, and also made the Division II playoffs for the third season in a row.

Continuing a rigorous workout routine in the weightroom and on the practice field during the pandemic, Jones hopes to make an impact his freshman season. But he’s also not forgetting about his senior year with the Raiders this spring.

“My leadership has come a long way because of the pandemic and I tried to arrange workouts,” Jones explained. “I hope to use that to aid our team to become better communicators on and off the field. We are in it for the ring, and I hope to be able to help the Raiders win as many games as possible.

“At Wingate, I hope to be able to impact the team not only as a receiver, but with key blocks and anything else I’m asked to do,” he closed. “I want to be another versatile player on the team and grow to be a leader with my new teammates.”

The Richmond Senior High School football season is set to officially open on Feb. 26 at Purnell Swett High School.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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