04/30/13 — Royal signs with Wingate University

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Royal signs with Wingate University

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on April 30, 2013 1:47 PM

Similar coaching philosophies and a close-knit family atmosphere beckoned North Duplin senior Tyler Royal to Wingate University.

The quarterback expects to fit in immediately.

Surrounded by the Rebels' coaching staff and family, Royal signed a national letter-of-intent with the Division II South Atlantic Conference school Monday afternoon. He entertained offers from numerous schools at all three NCAA levels, including FBS members Western Carolina and Wofford (S.C.) University.

"I liked how down-to-earth the coaching staff was, which reminded me a lot of here," Royal said. "They have the same basic principles that we have and the (head) coach even looks like (ND head) Coach (Hugh) Martin. Their motto is 'one dog' which means you're one unit working together to get that one goal -- a conference championship."

A three-year varsity performer, Royal turned in a stellar senior season. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder rushed for an area-leading 2,000-plus yards and accounted for 31 touchdowns from the quarterback slot. On defense, he posted 42 tackles and amassed 548 all-purpose yards on special-teams play.

Royal guided North Duplin to a seven-win campaign for the first time since 2007 when North Duplin finished runner-up to Plymouth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A (small school) playoffs. He concluded his prep career with 3,987 yards (rushing, passing, kick/punt returns) and 40 touchdowns.

"Tyler's work ethic is just beyond what most folks will do and he has done beyond what was expected of him," Martin said. "He's changed his body and he became a great football player for us. He has a great football IQ with a great level of physical toughness ... not scared of contact by any stretch of the imagination.

"Once they find ways to get him the ball, he'll make a lot of good things happen. That's what he did for us."

Royal can adjust to any system and play any position, which is synonymous with football at North Duplin. Small schools with a limited pool of players usually end up with starters who play on both sides of the ball.

Wingate recruited Royal as a safety, but he talked with the coaches about playing slot in the fast-paced offense. The Bulldogs averaged nearly 428 yards per game offensively and committed 37 turnovers on 825 total offensive plays.

The offense gelled in its final five games and the Bulldogs ended up 5-2 against SAC competition. Two years earlier, Wingate won the SAC championship and suffered an opening-round loss to Albany State (Ga.) in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Royal realizes he must improve his strength, flexibility and conditioning to succeed in the collegiate ranks. He's pushed himself in the Rebels' weight room during the offseason.

"I want to improve on everything, get as good as I possibly can," said Royal, who ranks No. 6 in the senior class with a 4.2 grade-point average on a weighted scale.

"I'm never completely satisfied. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse ... not doing something right. Hard work ... that's what Coach Martin has taught us around here. There are no excuses. You go hard in everything that you and that's what I'm going to do."