Western Piedmont Conference Defensive Player of the Year Caustin Beckner signed a letter of intent on National Signing Day to play football at Wingate University.
This season the athlete tallied 151 tackles and led his team in sacks. In his four years as a Wildcat, he leaves behind a school record of 377 tackles throughout his stint in the varsity program.
Of all the accolades the 6’4 senior said his most memorable is the conference championship.
“To have that as a team means more to me than anything individually I’ve ever gotten,” he said.
Beckner fielded a number of college options, but said Wingate was an easy choice because it felt like home.
“It was a relief and I’m excited about it. I really like the linebacker coach. I plan to work hard and see what I can do. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll get better as a player and help them out in any way I can,” he said.
Beckner’s contributions have been on and off the field, according to coach Jimmy Upchurch.
“He’s grown into a true leader. He’s led our football program and set an example of how to do things the right way. He’s the epitome of what I want West Stokes football to be about and that’s leadership, character, and work ethic. He brings all of that to the table,” Upchurch said.
When the coach watched Beckner play at an early age, he saw promising potential.
“He’s a three-and-a-half year varsity starter which is a very rare thing for us. It’s rare we move a freshman up to play varsity. In the 13 years I’ve been here, it’s maybe happened with two or three kids. But when we saw him in the ninth grade we knew he was going to do great things.”
Upchurch believes Wingate is wise choice for Beckner and looks for him to make an impact on the program.
“He was the number one linebacker they were recruiting of all the high schools and anytime you’re that high on their recruiting boards they’re going to take care of you. They have a great coaching staff,” he said.
Beckner said moving on beyond the Wildcats is bittersweet.
“They’ve taught me everything I know. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be in this position. I’m looking forward to it, but it won’t be easy leaving the coaches and my teammates,” he said.
The athlete has played alongside many of the same players since he was six years old.
“We’ve been through it all. There’s been wins and losses. I love these guys to death,” he said.
As it was stressed to him throughout his high school football career, he hopes future teams will play with passion, hard work, and continue to develop a family bond.
“Hard work pays off. We always talked about it a ton. But I can say now, it’s true.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.