BRIDGEWATER – Five former high school football players from Augusta County have found a place to continue their athletic careers and their futures are looking bright close to home at Bridgewater College.
The group includes Terrell Mickens from Robert E. Lee, Noah Ranck from Grace Christian and a trio from Stuarts Draft in C.J. Dameron, Jacob Wyrick and Brandon Terrell.
Mickens, a sophomore wide receiver, is the eldest of the group. After a standout career for the Leemen, Mickens signed a scholarship with James Madison. After redshirting in 2011, he played sparingly during the 2012 season and eventually left the school. Three years later he enrolled at Bridgewater and is happy with his new team.
“I had knowledge of the program coming in,” said Mickens, whose cousin, Teley Tate, was a standout running back for the Eagles. “I love the competition and the athletes and being at Bridgewater.”
He played in all 10 of the Eagles’ varsity games this season. His statistics included one rush for five yards, two receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown, one kick return for seven yards and two total tackles, including one solo stop.
“Terrell Mickens’ comeback, if we finish it, is a great college athletics and football story,” said Bridgewater head coach Mike Clark. “He’s one of those young men who make coaching worth the while.”
A physical education major, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Mickens plans to teach and coach for his career. He is currently an assistant coach for Jarrett Hatcher and the Lee High boys varsity basketball team. He hopes to play a more prominent role in his junior season for the Eagles.
“I just want to continue to contribute to the team as a wide receiver and on special teams,” said Mickens, whose older sister, Angela, had a standout basketball career at Lee and JMU.
Ranck, a freshman long snapper, is the first player from Grace Christian to play college football. His dream coming out of high school was to go to Virginia Tech to play, but he’s happy that he has landed where he can contribute.
“I really liked the atmosphere here and Coach Clark,” said Ranck, who was home schooled before arriving at Bridgewater. “It has been an adjustment academically as I have to do group projects now, but the professors have been very helpful and will sit down and talk to me one-on-one.”
Ranck, 6-5, 190, said he played five different positions in high school and will focus on long snapping and possibly tight end during his sophomore year.
“It’s a more intense regimen here as each person has maybe one or two positions,” he said. “You have to work to perfect your skill.”
An athletic training major, Ranck would like to have a career in sports and also coach at Grace Christian after college.
Wyrick, 5-10, 173, is a freshman placekicker who was perfect in extra point kicks on the junior varsity squad this season and was elevated to the varsity team late in the year to kickoff.
“I came here because it was close to home and I had a couple of family members who attended here,” said Wyrick. “Its definitely a step up when you get to college. They expect a lot more out of you and its all on you to get better.”
A health and physical education major who hopes to teach and coach after college, Wyrick hopes to be on the varsity kicking full time in his sophomore season.
Dameron is a freshman defensive end who had a solid season on the junior varsity team this year, getting good playing time with a few tackles.
“I really liked the D-line coach, Keenan Carter, and I knew the Knecht twins that are at BC,” Dameron said of how he chose BC. He acknowledged that college football is “difficult and you have to take the initiative to get better.”
A health and exercise science major, the 5-10, 195-pound Dameron plans a career in physical therapy after graduation.
“I want to get stronger, more physical and play more on the varsity next year,” he said.
Terrell is a freshman linebacker who also spent the season on the junior varsity squad and dressed for the varsity’s last game.
“I liked Coach Clark and felt that this was the best place to excel,” he said of choosing BC. “Its definitely been a learning experience as everybody here is a football player.”
A sociology major, the 5-9, 180-pound Terrell plans a career in law enforcement after graduation.
“I want to get bigger, faster and stronger, be on the varsity and get more playing time,” he said of his immediate future goals for next season. “Overall I really like it here. Everyone is very friendly.”
Clark has been impressed with this group’s work ethic and is excited for their futures.
“This group of freshmen are doing all of the right things,” said Clark. “At a level that you can outwork people to get on the field this group is off to a great start.”
Clark likes to see local players join and excel in the Eagles’ program.
“Getting a chance to make it as a college football player in your own backyard is a special opportunity,” said Clark, who will be in his 23rd season at BC next fall.
Bridgewater was 5-5 overall this year and ended the season on a three-game win streak.