Ben Bresnahan has known that Vanderbilt is where he wants to play college football for months now. He committed to the Commodores in July, quicker than even he had guessed, and planned to enroll in classes during the spring semester, graduating from West Forsyth in December.
So being able to sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, in the first year football players can do so with the NCAA's new early signing period, was a welcome opportunity for Bresnahan.
"It feels so great," Bresnahan said after his family, coaches and a large group of classmates had joined him in West's media center. "I just cannot wait to be up in Nashville and have the whole recruiting process behind me. It was a fun process, but I'm glad to be where I am."
Bresnahan's father, Brian, shared a story with the gathered crowd about his early aspirations for his son's athletic career: He had coached Ben in baseball, so he wanted him to focus on that sport. But Ben's sister, Meredith, convinced her parents to let him try football, and the allure of the Friday night lights and catching touchdowns quickly won Ben over.
Ben, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end, was one of the county's most dangerous receiving threats during his time with the Wolverines. He had 742 yards receiving and caught six touchdown passes during his senior year, and he ran for four more, as West ran multiple unconventional packages with Bresnahan to take advantage of his abilities. He even threw for a touchdown, on a trick play against Forsyth Central.
Bresnahan said it hasn't been particularly hectic getting his academics in order, even as an early graduate. Still, the reality that this fall is his last semester in high school has caused some moments of reflection.
"It was really emotional," Bresnahan said. "Luckily, it's not like I'm going out to the west coast or anything like that, so (people) will be able to visit me whenever they need to. It's only three and a half hours away."
And now the process is really picking up. Three weeks ago, he had Commodores offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig in for an in-home visit. A week after that, Bresnahan went on an official visit to Nashville. On Wednesday, he signed his name, and in two weeks, he'll be on campus.
"It's crazy how back-to-back it is now with early signing periods," Bresnahan said. "But I really like it a lot."