By Ivan Torres

Special to The Sentinel

DAMASCUS – The Damascus High School community congregated into the school’s gym on Dec. 19 to celebrate eight student-athletes as they signed their collegiate letters of intent on Early National Signing Day.

[See photos from this event in our photo gallery here!]

The “Swarmin’ Hornets” will be represented in three sports at universities and colleges across four different states. One by one, the students address the crowd and express their gratitude to coaches, friends and family. After the players had their time on the podium, coaches and family members addressed the students and reminded them of the benefits of hard work.

“Success is sweet, but the secret is sweat,” girls Head Lacrosse Coach Marcus Jurado said. “Hard work, dedication and sweat, and that is what has gotten these students athletes where they are today.”

Three of the eight students who participated the ceremony signed to play football on the next level just 15 days after leading Damascus to their 11th Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 3A state title in Annapolis.

“I had the pleasure of coaching and teaching the majority of these students,” Head Football Coach Eric Wallich said. “The number of injuries they endured, and they still were able to come out on top is a testament to how they handle adversity.”

All eyes were on Bryan Bresee, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive lineman touted as the nation’s top recruit according to 247Sports Composite. He had already committed to Clemson University, but signing his letter of intent made it official. Bresee, who was also named the 2018-2019 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, received offers from 35 programs, but after selecting the Tigers, he never looked back.

“Wherever I committed, I was gonna stick with,” Bresee said. “It’s Clemson because of the coaching staff and the family atmosphere. The great culture they have makes it easy to want to be there.”

“It’s incredible to see how he distanced himself from all the great players we’ve had at this school in regards to recruiting,” Wallich said. “He is a generational talent that was always the best player on the field.”

During his Early Signing Day press conference, Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney described Bresee as a bigger, stronger and “more violent” version of former Tiger Christian Wilkins. While complimenting his work ethic, Swinney said he could expect to see Bresee play in multiple defensive packages for Clemson in his freshman season.

“He is just such a versatile player,” Swinney said. “You do not see very many big people move, and he is lean; when you look at him, you cannot believe he is a 300-pounder. He can flat out move, comes from a great family, and another humbled young man.”

Outside linebacker Timothy Ferguson, who is also a state champion in wrestling, will be heading to Villanova University to play football. He posted 68 tackles, seven sacks, four forced turnovers and 21 tackles for loss in his junior year at Damascus. This season, he was a part of the unit, which only surrendered 103 points all season.

He was joined by utility defensive back Preston Murray, who elected to stay local and go to Georgetown University. During his time with the Hornets, Murray collected 45 tackles, 13 interceptions and scored 16 touchdowns on offense. In his Early Signing Day comments, Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said Murray would add “toughness and man-to-man skills” to the Hoyas secondary.

“My dream was to play football here since I was 6 years old,” Murray said, addressing the school community. “I want to thank everyone in the town for making it a great experience.”

Meanwhile, Sydney Smith and Diana Clay, representing Damascus’ high’s girls soccer team, announced their commitments to Washington and Lee University in Virginia and St. Mary’s College, respectively.

Lacrosse player Emma Hamrick, who finished last season with 16 goals and 23 assists for the Hornets, announced her decision to go to Limestone College in South Carolina. While she has not played the sport for so long, Hamrick was a key piece in Damascus’ run to the Class 2A West Section II final.

“I have only been playing lacrosse since I was a freshman, so I barely had time to catch up,” Hamrick said. “I want to thank my coaches and parents for pushing and believing in me.”

Coming off her standout junior season where she scored 45 goals and won 34 draws, attacker Kayla Proch announced her commitment to play lacrosse at Messiah College.

Lastly, dual-sport athlete Luke McCullough will be attending Frostburg State University to play lacrosse. He played both lacrosse and football for the Hornets.

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