03/07/13 — Goldsboro's Cannon signs NLI with St. Augustine's

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Goldsboro's Cannon signs NLI with St. Augustine's

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 7, 2013 1:47 PM

The list of schools that suddenly stopped recruiting Goldsboro linebacker Bernard Cannon or offered him the chance to walk on may have made his recruiting process easier.

What won't be easy is convincing Cannon to take it easy on any of those schools that passed him over when he faces them on the gridiron.

After a lengthy recruiting process, Cannon recently signed a national-letter-of-intent to continue his career at Division II St. Augustine's University. UNC Pembroke, N.C. Central, Elizabeth City State, North Carolina A&T and Maryville (Tenn.) College all expressed interest in Cannon. However, as the recruiting period wore on, the list of schools with scholarship offers dwindled.

An official visit to Saint Augustine's and a meeting with head coach Michael Costa helped seal Cannon's decision. The Falcons' 4-3 defensive scheme, a system similar to what Cannon was a part of in high school, was also a selling point.

"I really liked the coaches and the atmosphere at Saint Augustine's," Cannon said. "I like that they run a 4-3 and let their linebackers run free. Having so many schools that recruited me change their minds and stop recruiting me or tell me I could walk on is really going to motivate me, especially since we play some of those teams."

Following his junior year, Cannon made the difficult transition from defensive end to middle linebacker. In the off-season he dedicated himself to the weight room and learned the nuances of his new position.

A two-year starter, Cannon recorded a team-high 77 solo tackles and 130 total tackles during his senior season with the Cougars. He led Goldsboro with five tackles for loss and three sacks. The Cougars' defense forced 31 turnovers and held six of its 12 opponents to 14 points or fewer.

Goldsboro finished the season 10-2, won the Carolina 1-A Conference championship and reached the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A state playoffs.

"When you go from having your hand in the dirt to that middle linebacker spot, that's a big adjustment," Cougars' head coach Eric Reid said. "He had to know where the defensive line had to be and know where his outside linebackers had to be and do his job. His work ethic was so tremendous and he was the mainstay to us being able to stop our opponents' running game."

St. Augustine's ended up 6-4 in 2012, including a 4-3 mark in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The Falcons open their season Sept. 7 at N.C. Central.