FORT MILL — Three Nation Ford football players and a soccer player made big commitments on National Signing Day last week.
Dalton Helms, Riley Hilton and Andrew Bruce signed to play college football while T.K. Abderahman signed to play soccer.
Helms, the starting quarterback for Nation Ford, officially committed to Campbell University after giving a verbal commitment to the school in December. He picked the school over schools like Newberry College, North Greenville University and Presbyterian College.
“I went on an official visit and knew that is where I wanted to be,” Helms said. “The academics are great. I love the coaching staff. I get to play for an ex-pro bowler (former Carolina Panther Mike Minter) that I grew up watching. Get to play some big time football teams. I’m looking forward to it.”
Helms said there is a small chance he may also play college baseball for Campbell. He plans on majoring in pre-med.
As a senior, Helms passed for 3,233 yards with 29 touchdowns going 233-406 throwing the ball, as well as rushing for 282 yards on 101 carries and five touchdowns.
Helms set several school records for career passing yards, touchdowns, pass completions, pass attempts, most touchdowns in a game and most passing yards in a game.
For his career at Nation Ford, Helms completed 55 percent of his passes going 395-717 for 5,792 yards and 50 touchdowns. He rushed for another 604 yards and nine touchdowns in his three years at the varsity level.
One of Helms’ main target during the years was tight end Hilton, who will be going to Presbyterian College. He is undecided on his major and may become an orthodontist.
“It felt like it was a family place and I got to know a lot of the coaches,” Hilton said. “I found out I went to the beach with one of their offensive coordinators when I was younger. And our families use to hang out together and that was a really cool connection to have. It showed me that was the place I should be. I liked everything about it.”
Hilton was also recruited by Charleston Southern University, Newberry College, North Greenville University and the Air Force Academy. Hilton’s father, Richard Hilton, went to Presbyterian College as well.
Hilton, who also plays basketball for Nation Ford, said he wouldn’t be pursuing the two-sport track.
“I’m on a full football scholarship and it’s going to be my main priority,” he said. “I love basketball, but its time I give it up to concentrate on one sport. Football gives me more opportunities to play.”
Hilton caught 86 passes for 976 yards and 10 touchdowns for Nation Ford in a dozen games his senior year. Hilton also at one time held the school record for most passing yards in a game, filling in for Helms his junior year, when he missed a game. Helms would later break that record this past season.
Hilton also was the Falcons’ main punter and averaged 35 yards a punt on 38 punts his senior season. Hilton also had 39 tackles, 5.5 for losses and three blocked PATs on defense.
Bruce will play football at Lenoir-Rhyne University, attracted by the team’s run to the national championship game last season. Like Helms, he also could be a dual sport athlete and run track for the school as well.
“When I first showed up there, they treated my family and me better than any other school,” Bruce said. “It felt like home and was just a feeling I couldn’t get anywhere else.”
Bruce also looked at Presbyterian, Western Carolina University, Tusculum College and Charleston Southern University. He plans on majoring in business administration.
“But out of all of those programs, between the championship team and a winning tradition, that is why I choose Lenoir-Rhyne,” Bruce said.
Bruce will play mostly defense between outside linebacker and strong safety. But just like at Nation Ford, he could see some time on the other side of the ball.
Bruce rushed for 148 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns on offense his senior season, but defensively, accounted for 72 tackles, four for losses, a sack, an interception and five pass break-ups.
He said if he did run track at Lenoir-Rhyne, it would probably be the shorter distances like the 100, 4 x100 and 4x400.
The lone nonfootball player to sign on signing day was Abderahhman, who will be going to the College of Charleston to play soccer.
Abderahman committed to the Charleston program over others like Wofford College, Elon University, Davidson College and UNCC. He plans on majoring in business management.
“I always wanted to go there,” he said. “They recognized me my sophomore year, so it was really early. The coaches were very respectful as well. The city of Charleston is a great place to live after school.”
Abderahman wasn’t noticed by playing for Nation Ford, but through academy soccer, which aims to showcase players who want to be recruited. He did play soccer at Nation Ford his freshman year, but his academy soccer schedule didn’t allow him to be able to play both after that.
“I really wanted to play (for Nation Ford) my senior year, but you got to play what prepares you best for college and I think academy does that,” he said.