Anthony Hines and Alex Harper

Rosewood’s Anthony Hines, left, and Alex Harper after they signed their national letters of intent. Hines signed with Winston-Salem State University, while Harper is heading to North Carolina Central University.

Alex Harper and Anthony Hines were vital contributors last fall for the Rosewood football team as it reached the regional round of the 1-A football playoffs.

The Eagles’ duo took the next step in their football careers Tuesday afternoon by signing national letters of intent to play college football.

Harper signed to play at the North Carolina Central University, while Hines signed to play at Winston-Salem State University.

“It’s always exciting any time a kid gets a chance to further their career playing the sport that they love,” Rosewood assistant football coach Jason King said. “Alex has really developed really, really good long snapper, which is a specialized skill that not many have.

“Anthony has battled back from injuries and health issues over the years. He hasn’t been able to play a full four years of football, so to see him be able to realize his dream is great. It’s great for both of them.”

Harper and Hines have been fixtures in the Eagles’ program for the past four years. They’ve played football together since middle school and were excited to be signing their letters together.

“I get to sign with one my best friends on the line, so it’s the best thing in the world,” Hines said.

“Getting to sign with Anthony, we’ve played together since middle school, and finally both of us have been working hard for a long time, so to sign together is a good opportunity,” Harper added.

Harper received interest from other programs before finding a home at NCCU.

“It’s been my dream my whole life to able to play college football,” Harper said. “I went up there and met the coaching staffing, and it’s a well-run program, and a program on the rise and I’m excited about the future.

“It’s a huge opportunity, and I’m so thankful.”

Hines is excited about the opportunity to keep playing football. He wants to keep playing on the defensive line, but if needed, he’ll gladly jump to the other side of the ball.

“It’s a big deal for me, and it’s one I’ve been dreaming about since middle school playing Little Eagles football,” Hines said. “They told me they need big guys because they lost six players, and when I went to Winston-Salem on a football visit I thought it was very nice and very calm, so I said that’s where I needed to be.

“I really just want to play defense, but I will play both sides of the ball if they need me to.”

Both are thankful to have spent their high careers at Rosewood and will bring a boost to their respective college programs.

On the gridiron, North Carolina Central University plays in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference along with North Carolina A&T. The Eagles went 5-6 overall and 3-4 in MEAC play.

Winston-Salem State University, a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, finished with a 5-4 overall record and 3-1 in the CIAA.

For King, the signing event was about the future and he said both programs are not just getting talented football players, but high character students off the field as well.

“I think they’re going to be good students,” King said. “I think they’re going get involved in student culture, and both of them are great additions to those programs.”