By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
Escambia County High School senior Deondre Freeman is bound for Northrop Grumman Apprentice School after signing a $250,000 football scholarship on Thursday, April 11.
“We are very proud of Deondre,” ECHS principal Dennis Fuqua said. “He is a very hard worker and a role model for his peers.”
The 6-2, 184-pound, defensive lineman was a repeat first-team choice for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A All-State team. Freeman became the first player from ECHS in six years to have his name appear on an all-state list when he earned selection in 2017, despite the Blue Devils 2-8 season record.
The 2018 selection made Freeman the first-ever ECHS player to earn successive first-team honors since the ASWA took over sole selection of all-state teams in 2007. Until that time, separate teams were selected annually by the Montgomery Advertiser and Birmingham News.
Linebacker Curtis Coleman was the last Blue Devils player to earn back-to-back first-team designations when he was so honored by the Montgomery Advertiser in 1974 and 1975. Tyler Nero, a defensive lineman at Escambia High, was a first-team ASWA selection in 2010 and earned honorable mention the following year.
Located in Newport News, Va., the Northrop Grumman Apprentice School specializes in ship building and other areas of industrial engineering. The school fields six Division-III athletic teams, but because it does not grant degrees, it is not affiliated with NCAA.
In 2018, the school’s football team joined National Club Football Association’s Mid-Atlantic Conference, which is divided into two divisions, and captured the 2018 NCFA’s national championship, defeating Oakland University, 56-14.
“I am very excited to have the opportunity to attend Northrop Grumman Apprentice School,” said Freeman, who will major in engineering at the Virginia Technical College. “I love the game of football and I hope that I will be able to produce well for the institution.”
Northrop Grumman Apprentice School graduates are granted a top-secret clearance that allows them to work for companies such as NASA, The Department of Defense and other military contractors.
“Deondre will be looking at a six-figure paying career when he graduates from the institution,” ECHS head coach Scott Mason said. “He is a worker, leader and role-model for our team and school. He has an extremely bright future ahead of him.”
Freeman, while excited about his transition to college and college football, is reluctant to leave his family, friends and ECHS behind.
“I am going to miss everyone, and I will be several states away, but I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to be able to play football and pursue my dreams,” Freeman said. “It is just the concept that you will never play high-school football again that is hard to grasp. I am grateful and excited about the opportunity that is laid before me and I will represent my hometown well.”
His mother, Kimberly Freeman is also grateful and proud for Freeman’s achievements.
“I am grateful that he has the opportunity to go to a Division-III school and pursue his dreams,” she said. “He is a very hard worker and there have been several nights that I have not been able to see him because of football. He will be receiving a quality education, and I am very proud of my son and for the things that he has and will accomplish.”
Freeman will be taking the field with the NGAS Builders next season under the leadership of head coach Vincent Brown.