02/08/07 — Aycock standouts sign letters of intent

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Aycock standouts sign letters of intent

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 8, 2007 2:36 PM

PIKEVILLE -- Every time a college recruiter viewed videotape of Charles B. Aycock football standouts Dontay Taylor and Montez Ham, they couldn't help but notice numerous differences and one similarity -- speed.

Taylor can stop, change direction on a dime and catch passes out of the backfield. Ham has good hands, great speed and with a good quarterback can stretch an opposing defense downfield.

Those traits proved marketable to several colleges, and left recruiters licking their chops while hitting the rewind and play buttons on their VCR remote control.

Taylor and Ham, flanked by proud parents, ended months of speculation about their future collegiate careers Wednesday afternoon in the school's media center. Taylor signed a national letter-of-intent with Elon University, while Ham inked an NLI with Winston-Salem State University.

"I thought these guys had potential for the next level," said Aycock head coach Randy Pinkowski. "I wasn't sure what level or where on that level, but I think they're going to be satisfied with their experience."

Taylor appeared relieved of his decision.

"It has been stressful," said Taylor, who entertained offers from numerous colleges up and down the Atlantic seaboard. "It was hard telling other coaches 'no.'"

A weekday visit, that included a no-nonsense discussion with current football players, sold Taylor on Elon.

"Usually when you go on recruiting visits, people don't always tell you the truth," said Taylor. "They told me that all schools have good things and bad things, and they told me the bad things before they told me the good things.

"I really respected that because they showed me respect by not lying to me."

Taylor is one of 11 North Carolina players to sign with Elon, a member of the prestigious Southern Conference. Second-year Phoenix head coach Pete Lembo inked 22 players from six different states on Wednesday.

The Golden Falcons' MVP in the fall, Taylor rushed for 1,520 yards and an area-leading 21 touchdowns. The The 5-foot-10, 181-pound back averaged nearly five yards a carry and helped Aycock advance to the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoffs.

"We recognized early on as a sophomore that Dontay had a special talent that God gave to him. We didn't teach it to him," said Pinkowski. "The only thing we could do is develop his strength and speed to go along with that ability. Of course, he had to wait in the wings behind Shonte Barnes and Spruce Lee to get his chance to step in."

Ham leaned toward Mars Hill College for much of the offseason until a weekend visit to WSSU changed his outlook. The overall appearance and direction of the football program appealed to the senior wide receiver.

Winston-Salem State is entering its third year of a five-year transition to the Division I level in 2007. The Rams will play nine Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games and will open the season Sept. 1 at in-state rival North Carolina A&T.

"I think it's a better fit," said Ham, one of 12 prep standouts to sign with WSSU. "They're getting young guys to build a championship team, not just for one year, but for several years down the road."

The WSSU staff plans to take advantage of Ham's speed whether it's on the offensive side of the ball or special teams. Ham emerged the area's top receiver in 2006 with 843 yards and 10 touchdowns on 44 receptions.

Ham added the coaches have discussed the possibility of a periodic assignment on defense. A 5-11, 165-pounder, Ham collected 45 tackles and picked off two passes from his cornerback position.

"I'll play any position any time," laughed Ham.

The Aycock duo becomes the sixth and seventh players to sign college scholarships during Pinkowski's tenure as head coach.

"I'm losing two good players," said Pinkowski. "But I'm losing four kids (overall) who were leaders on both sides of the ball. The things I miss when I lose guys like this is the leadership they bring onto the field and their confidence.

"These guys stepped into that role and ran with it."