Science Hill cornerback Tre Webster picked a pastime that led to paydirt.
Webster, a few months removed from his only season of high school football, signed with Campbell University on Wednesday.
Two other Hilltoppers also revealed their college choices. Goalie Daniel Adelman signed to play soccer at East Tennessee State, and Jaleessa Kennedy will go to Queens University in Charlotte for track and field.
Webster’s ascent was the most unlikely, as he essentially chose to play football on a whim around this time last year when former Science Hill assistant Jeremy Bosken asked him to play.
“Coach Bosken just asked me if I was gonna play this year,” Webster said, “and without thinking about it I just said, ‘Yes.’ I thought, ‘It’s my senior year. Why not?’ I hadn’t played since the eighth grade.”
The Hilltoppers’ fastest player, Webster started at cornerback and receiver. He scored seven touchdowns, including a kickoff return against Tennessee High on Senior Night, and had 255 receiving yards. One of his two interceptions set up a key score in a hard-fought victory against Morristown West.
Science Hill assistant Benny Tolley has always liked how Webster carried himself and treated others, and he liked the toughness he saw when Webster fractured a wrist his freshman year playing basketball.
“I told (defensive backs) coach Jerry Weston, ‘He’ll win a spot in the secondary,’” Tolley said. “And by golly, by the time of the end of spring ball – Jerry’s pretty much old school; he’s tough – and he said, ‘Boy, I like that Webster better and better every day.’”
Webster could play cornerback, free safety or perhaps receiver at Campbell.
“He played safety some for us in the spring,” Science Hill defensive coordinator Ralph Nelson said. “He just has that natural gift of knowing where the ball is. I think he’ll play defense. Safety or corner, I don’t think it matters. They’ll see him and think we’ve got to play him somewhere.
“I think Tre was as good a corner as anybody had this year in our area. And he’s an outstanding kid, one of the best I have in class. He really is genuinely one of the good guys. He works and has a great attitude. If they’s all like him it’d make coaching an easy job.”
Webster liked new Campbell coach Mike Minter, who played at Nebraska and was a starting safety for the Carolina Panthers.
“I just liked Coach Minter’s demeanor,” Webster said. “I felt like he can really turn this team around, and I’m ready to be one of the people who can help turn it around.”
Tolley sees Webster’s best football in front of him.
“Campbell stole one,” Tolley said. “Because Tre’s the kind, in my opinion, that if ETSU was starting football right now, I feel very strongly he could play there.”
Adelman will play at ETSU, though it was a difficult decision. He also considered Appalachian State, UNC-Asheville and High Point.
“It was a tough choice, but it just kind of all worked itself out,” Adelman said.
Helping clear his mind was the fact that Adelman liked ETSU coach Scott Calabrese, the Buccaneers players and Summers-Taylor Stadium.
“Coach Calabrese definitely is (a sharp guy),” Adelman said. “He told me, ‘You kind of remind me when I was your age as a goalkeeper and everything.’ We just got to know each other really quick.”
Adelman’s story is unconventional, too.
“I haven’t played high school until this year,” he said. “I was trying to get my name out there as much as I could playing club, switching back between Tennessee and North Carolina clubs … with FC Alliance out of Knoxville and HFC out of Asheville.”
Adelman performed particularly well in the Disney Showcase in Orlando.
“That’s where I was, luckily, always at the top of my game,” he said. “I was constantly trying to push myself to get to the next level. My parents always wanted me to push myself, and it’s all worked out, which is nice.”
Hilltoppers coach Brandon Kind is convinced ETSU is getting a valuable piece.
“Scott and I are good friends, trust each other and respect each other as coaches,” Kind said. “I told him he made the right choice … and that this one will pay off.”
Kind said Adelman’s athleticism, footwork and humility will allow him to step into the big shoes left by Andrew Kenneson, who is now at Davidson.
Kennedy has been a beast of burden at Science Hill. An athletic energizer in the team sports, she played volleyball, saw considerable playing time on Science Hill’s semifinalist and state runner-up basketball teams and does seemingly anything track coach John Hyatt will allow her to do.
“Jaleessa’s one of those you kind of have to hold back or she’ll do too much,” Hyatt said. “She’s our best long jumper, our best shot-putter and our best in the 400 meters.”
Kennedy, who also does the grueling pentathlon, is eager to make the jump to college.
“I’m not one bit remorseful about leaving high school,” she said through a smile. “I’m ready to start that new chapter. I’m excited. …
“They want me to jump primarily – the long jump and triple jump. And if I can I’ll do the hep (heptathlon) as well.”
Academics were a factor for Kennedy. So was her fondness for Charlotte.
“It really factored down more to education and not just athletics,” she said.
Hyatt anticipates Kennedy representing Science Hill well in and out of the classroom.
“Queens University is getting a great kid,” he said. “Jaleessa is a top-notch student and a real hard worker.”