East Carter senior Quinn Huddle must have felt like a celebrity with all the attention surrounding him Friday afternoon.
A large crowd gathered in the ECHS library to watch the soccer standout sign a letter of intent with University of the Cumberlands.
“A lot of family, teammates and friends,” Huddle said a little while later as he surveyed the scene. “It’s pretty special seeing everybody come out and support me.”
Huddle, a four-year starter for the Raiders, earned several honors during his high school career and helped lead the team to a district championship as a senior.
“Quinn’s the best player I’ve coached, hands down,” East Carter coach Ben Fritz said of the midfielder. “He’s probably 6-foot-1, maybe 6-2 and is going to put on so much muscle. “His quickness and skill set are second to none of anybody I’ve coached.”
East Carter attended a team soccer camp at the NAIA school in Williamsburg, which led to interest from both sides.
“The beauty of the camp is that you still see them in the team element,” said UC head coach Benton Benware, who made the trip to Grayson on Friday. “It’s five good days of evaluation.”
Benware said Huddle’s speed, size and feel for the game will transition well to University of the Cumberlands, which competes in the Mid-South Conference with NAIA heavyweights Lindsey Wilson and Rio Grande.
“It’s very tough,” said Benware, who guided the Patriots to a 9-7-1 overall record last season with an international roster. “Those two fight for the No. 1 spot in the country and we’re one of several other good teams.”
Huddle is looking forward to the challenges.
“It’s very exciting,” Huddle said. “Maybe I will get a chance to play in the national tournament.”
Huddle looked at some other colleges, but he said the team camp at UC was the icing on the cake.
“It’s the favorite school I visited,” Huddle said. “(Benware) was my favorite coach. I think it’s good fit. They play a high level of soccer and are always in the Top 25. It’s also where I can get a good education.”
Huddle carries a 3.5 grade point average and plans to study biology.
“Quinn is an outstanding young man,” Fritz said. “He’s a great soccer player, but an even better person. That’s what coach (Benware) is looking for.”
Huddle earned multiple All-Area and All-District honors for the Raiders while helping the team post 34 wins over the past four seasons.
His top soccer memory at East Carter?
“Definitely winning the district my senior year,” Huddle said. “It was our first. I grew up with all these kids playing soccer, It’s been a lot of fun.”
Huddle also kicked five field goals and 19 extra points for East Carter’s football team last season and was a starter in basketball.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.