Three to the college gridiron

Published 9:56 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

Nansemond River football standouts Demetrius Stitmon, Marquis Braimer and Jarrett Hopple sign to play on the college gridiron during a recent ceremony held at Nansemond River High School.

Nansemond River football standouts Demetrius Stitmon, Marquis Braimer and Jarrett Hopple sign to play on the college gridiron during a recent ceremony held at Nansemond River High School.

Nansemond River High School recently brought recognition to its first group of football players from the 2015 Warriors that will be playing at the next level, with more to come.

Defensive back/wide receiver Marquis Braimer, offensive/defensive lineman Jarrett Hopple and defensive end/linebacker Demetrius Stitmon participated in a signing ceremony last week, formalizing their commitments before a large crowd of friends, family and coaches.

Braimer has a full scholarship to play for the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Stitmon is a preferred walk-on at Old Dominion University and Hopple has a full scholarship to play for Virginia Tech.

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“I’m pleased that those three get to continue on the next level,” Warriors coach David Coccoli said.

Hopple made his verbal commitment to the Hokies last spring, but the signing ceremony was another special moment for him.

“It feels great, it gets some pressure off my shoulders, and I can just get ready for this fall and do great,” he said.

The moment of signing with a college was one that Braimer will likely remember forever.

“It means everything to me, a moment that I have dreamed of since I was 7 years old, to be able to sign and be able to go to college and just to play football, and most of all be able to go to college for free and not having to put a burden on my mother,” he said. “It’s like one of the great days of my life.”

Before arriving at his conclusion to join the U.Va.-Wise Cavaliers, he noted he was weighing a lot of options, including “two (Division III) schools that I really liked — Randolph-Macon (College) and (Christopher Newport University) — and also I had tons of preferred walk-on deals.”

Schools offering him preferred walk-ons included Norfolk State University, Campbell University, Old Dominion and Virginia Military Institute.

It was a campus visit to U.Va.-Wise a few days before National Signing Day that helped him make his decision.

“On my visit this weekend, the entire atmosphere of U.Va.-Wise embodied home and family for me,” Braimer said. “The players and coaches were brutally honest about what to expect and what is expected of each player, and the students on campus were friendly and exciting talking about their personal experience as a Cavalier. I feel like it was a good decision for me to become a Cavalier.”

He said the coaches at the school plan to use him as a cornerback.

“They need a lockdown corner, and I feel like I’ll be able to be that guy for them,” he said.

While in college, he plans to major in communication.

Stitmon said that signing with Old Dominion meant a lot, “because I’ll know that I’ll be able to go to the next level and play, because not everybody gets a chance to play at the next level, so I’m just blessed.”

Options on the table for Stitmon included Virginia Military Institute, Old Dominion and the University of Richmond, but it was Norfolk State that he had honed in on as his future college home before pulling back and reevaluating.

His reevaluation led him to go with ODU because of “the fact that they have my academics,” he said. “I want to be a mechanical engineer, and Norfolk State wasn’t able to provide that, so I wasn’t going to go somewhere and have to change my whole game plan. So, I just want to be able to go somewhere to where I can do what I’m trying to do.”

Stitmon is a linebacker who was needed on the defensive line this past season, and the Monarchs are interested in him at his former position.

“I think I’ll be playing outside linebacker, but I know that I’m flexible,” Stitmon said.

Coccoli was pleased by the trend that he is seeing following his second year as coach at Nansemond River.

“We’re going to have three others sign later in the month, so that’s six kids going to college from our football team,” he said. “We’re trying to build a winning program that sends the kids to college, so when you get six going, that’s a good year.”