FOUNTAIN LAKE -- Fountain Lake senior ironman football player Nick Brey signed his national letter of intent to play college football Wednesday at Bass Gymnasium.
"I just want to say thank you to friends, family, students and coach for giving us a football season this year," Brey said. "8-man, 11-man, I don't care what it is, but I had fun. Recently had a knee injury that I will recover from. I am going to be a beast."
Brey, a "fan favorite," had the stands packed, and the crowd roared as he signed with Westminster College.
"It is exciting," Brey said. "I have played football since fourth grade and this was never a set plan, but it is a bonus for sure. I am going to go to college for education, and I am going to try to be a coach."
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The Westminster Blue Jays compete on the NCAA Division III level of football.
Located in Fulton, Missouri, Brey will be a 6-and-a-half hour car drive from home.
"I am going to play linebacker in college," Brey said. "For recruiting I just made a little highlight video and my mom helped me. I just posted it and that is really all you have to do. We played 8-man, which people doubt on, but it is not a whole lot different from 11-man."
Westminster will be able to use Brey's skills at linebacker as they gave up an average of 37 points per game last season. Brey will hope to stop offenses for the Blue Jays. Brey collected 115 total tackles in his senior season.
Fountain Lake head coach Kenny Shelton highlighted Brey.
"It is not every year we have a chance to have a young man go and play football on the college level," Shelton said. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Nick for seven years. I got to see him grow from a little fart up into a fine young man. If you had told me when he was in seventh grade that he would be one of our better leaders and players in high school, I probably would have laughed at you."
Brey scored a touchdown this season, stepping on the field as a running back.
"I scored during the Cutter Morning Star game," Brey said. "I had tried to convince coach all year to let me run the ball. Finally, he put me in at running back and of course I showed what I could do."
Cutter Morning Star senior tight end Clayton Weldon was in attendance for Brey's signing day.
"Weldon is my best friend," Brey said. "We grew up together, and our parents are best friends. He is sitting in the stands watching me. I love that man."
Shelton said Brey never gave up.
"There was one particular play where he was playing linebacker and he fell down," Shelton said. "The receiver caught it and was running down. Nick was able to get back up and a couple of the other guys slowed down, but he was able to make the tackle 40 yards downfield. He was showing his never give up attitude."
Brey played offensive line, defensive line and linebacker for the Cobras.
"I cannot say enough kind things about Nick," Shelton said. "I have been able to coach him all the way up and see him grow, mature as a young man and a football player. He is a very hard working young man. He was able to maximize the amount of athletic talent that he had."
His athletic talent helped Brey secure 11.5 tackles per game in his senior season as a Cobra.
"Something unique I bring is if you ask people they just say, 'Nick Brey,'" Brey said. "I do not know what it is about me. I always try to be on top of everybody else with leadership. There is something about me that I don't get but everybody else does."
Shelton said Brey is a great leader.
"He is not only a verbal leader but also a leader by actions," Shelton said. "He is the type of young man that does not come around all that often. I have no doubt that he will be successful playing on the next level."
Brey will be missed as an important leader at Fountain Lake.
"Leadership is taking pride in what you do," Brey said. "It is not telling people what is right. It is doing what is right. Leadership is taking over something that people cannot do themselves. I have grown up to be a leader with my mom, dad and coach Shelton."
With 66 solo tackles and five tackles for loss, he was a leader on the field on Friday nights.
"He brought it every day in practice," Shelton said. "He was always upbeat through the good times and the bad times. I am just really impressed with his character and work ethic. He was a great leader on both sides of the ball, and he never really came off the field for us."
Fountain Lake finished as state runner-up after falling in the 8-man large school division state championship game.
"Coach has given me the chance to prove myself," Brey said. "We almost did not have a football season this year. This was the first year going to 8-man. Everybody said that we were not going to have a season. Coach Shelton pulled out 8-man and nobody knew what it was. He gave us the chance and he let us perform. I thank coach a lot for what he did for us this year."
Shelton said Brey never missed practice and worked hard in the weight room.
"It paid off," Shelton said. "He had a great high school career for us. He will be missed."