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National Signing Day: Wake, Coastal sign Falcons

By Ronnie Gallagher

Salisbury Post

MOUNT ULLA — It was difficult to decide who was wearing the biggest smiles Wednesday in the West Rowan library.

Tristan Dorty and Ben Erdman … or the parents of Tristan Dorty and Ben Erdman.

Dorty and Erdman made it official on National Signing Day by inking full scholarships with teams in the national spotlight.

Dorty, a defensive lineman who played linebacker in the Shrine Bowl, is going to Wake Forest, which finished the season with an 11-3 record, an ACC championship and a berth in the Orange Bowl.

Erdman becomes the second West Rowan Falcon (Ben Hampton was the other) to join the Coastal Carolina Chanticleeers, coached by former Catawba coach David Bennett.

Coastal, the defending Big South Conference champ, gave the league its first-ever participant in the I-AA playoffs this past season and is the favorite to win another title next season.

So with all of that success, the players were, of course, smiling ear-to-ear.

West coach Scott Young knew why the parents were beaming. He told the gathering that Erdman’s scholarship was worth around $93,000, while Dorty’s was worth over $130,000.

“They’ve been on top of their academics from Day 1,” said Young. “Kids need to realize when you take care of academics, it makes you so much more marketable.”

Erdman’s parents live in Georgia and made the trip to Rowan County every week to watch their son, who moved back here to finish his career with close friends.

“It’s great to tell my parents they don’t have to pay for my college,” he said.

*

Erdman was in a Chanticleer frame of mind, sporting a teal shirt and bronze tie. He said he fell in love with Bennett from the start, but he was only offered a partial grant at first.

“He was going to get half his first year,” Bennett said. “But when he committed, I said, ‘Son, today’s your lucky day.’

“I’ve never met a kid at that age whose priorities are so much in line.”

Erdman won’t be needed as a kicker, since North Davidson’s Justin Durham is on board. Erdman, who averaged 41.7 yards per kick, is slated to be the punter.

“The coaches let me coach the kickers, punters, snappers and holders,” Bennett said. “They need some love, too.”

And he definitely loves his new punter, one of 21 recruits signed by Coastal.

“He’ll be a pleasure to coach,” Bennett said.

Erdman’s dad, Rich, is certainly satisfied.

“We’ve already developed a family-type atmosphere,” said Dad Erdman. “I feel real comfortable with Ben being under his watch.”

*

Dorty doesn’t talk as much as Erdman, but really, who does?

Dorty has always been unassuming and quiet — until he hits the field. And he’ll be hitting opponents at Wake Forest as a linebacker, not a down lineman.

The good thing about that, according to Dorty and Young, is that the Deacon assistant who recruited him, Brad Lambert, is the linebackers coach.

But at 235 pounds and going to a new position, Dorty may be redshirted.

“Their tradition is to redshirt most of their freshmen,” said Young. “We’ll just wait and see.

“Tristan can make the transition. If he doesn’t, they’ll put weight on him and move him back down. It’s a no-lose situation.”

Dorty’s response? “I’ve just got to get ready for the challenge.”

Wake was one of the first schools to recruit Dorty and its interest became heavier as his senior year progressed.

He reports July 6, and will join a 20-player class, seven from North Carolina.

“There’s going to be a whole bunch of hype,” said Dorty, who added the Deacs can handle it. He realized that on his visit.

“I liked that there were no egos,” Dorty nodded. “Everybody’s together.”

What Young likes is that the West Rowan family can stay together as well.

“The thing I’m excited about is that Tristan will be only 50 minutes away,” said the ultra-successful coach. “He’s far enough away to experience college and close enough he can come home.”

*

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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