Out of the more than 20 Northeastern players since 2005 who have committed to play college football, Brandon Swayne might have the sweetest deal yet.
The Eagles kicker can attend school free, play football and get paid courtesy of The Apprentice School in Newport News, Va.
“It seems like everything is good about it,” said Swayne, who will get paid to work alongside going to class. “I don’t see a downside to it.”
It’s a slight change of pace for this year’s crop of players who committed or signed during Wednesday’s National Signing Day.
Linebacker Jamieon Moss has accepted a scholarship to play at Virginia Tech and defensive end Kenneth Melton at North Carolina A&T while defensive lineman Ryan Ferguson will walk on at Elizabeth City State.
And it’s likely not the final number for Northeastern’s senior class, which was the backbone for an 11-3 season and third round 2A state playoff berth last fall.
Defensive end McKenzie Etheridge has yet to decide on where he wants to play, as well as lineman Derek Moore.
Wide receiver Marquis Whidbee, The Daily Advance Player of the Year, has been offered a scholarship to play at East Carolina, but still has some academic work to do before he can accept.
Swayne will also get on-the-job training in his desired field of mechanical engineering while booting field goals for the Builders.
“I’ve always like working with my hands and everything, so it seemed to fit me well,” said Swayne, who also considered playing at UNC-Charlotte’s first-year program. “I like working with metal or any kind of machinery, so it seemed like it fit me.
“I like working with cars, but everyone has told me to keep it as a hobby. So here I can go work on ships and everything and bring my trade back to what I do as a hobby.
“I can learn welding and bring it back to racing and things I’ve grown up doing.”
Although the Eagles’ high-powered offense did more in the end zone than through the uprights, Swayne was consistent from 35 yards out and longer in practice.
“If anybody could tell you what they want to do right now, he (Swayne) would be the one,” NHS coach Antonio Moore said. “He does it on a daily basis, and when he heard that, his parents were surprised and wanted him to go on a visit.
“After we sent the highlight film on Swayne, it was a done deal. It’s a good fit for Newport News Apprentice and Swayne, because he’s a Division I kicker in my opinion.”
More than one Division I school put its name in the hat with Moss. The Eagles linebacker turned down late interest from N.C. State and Michigan to sign with Virginia Tech, a school he verbally committed to by last August.
Michigan coaches visited Moss in December, but he wanted to stay focused on the Hokies.
“I was really surprised about them (Michigan), it came out of nowhere,” Moss said. “But at the end of the day, Virginia Tech has been with me since day 1.
“It appealed to me a lot, but I took some time to think about it, and they came to me last minute. Virginia Tech has been loyal to me in the summer.”
For Melton, football at any level wasn’t even in the cards prior to high school.
“It’s exciting because when I first came in, I didn’t plan on playing football,” Melton said. “And now I get a chance to play college football. My parents don’t have to pay for my education. It’s an awesome thing, and I thank God every day.”
Antonio Moore said the senior group has been tight for a number of years, and it’s only helped to make for another eventful occasion of players moving to the next level from the school.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” Moore said. “I can’t take the credit for that, because those kids have been close since they were in middle school and Rampage football.
“I have a picture of all of those kids on the Rampage team, so it started way before here as far as the family atmosphere, we just reinforced it. They were already a tight bunch.
“It’s just good for the school. Good for the area, good for Elizabeth City.”