Just months after opening, the Cartersville High field house hosted the signing ceremonies for seniors Tee Webb and Jonah Gambill. It was a fitting place for the duo to mark their movement to the next level, as the college-like state-of-the-art facility will always be synonymous with the Class of 2020.
Family members, friends, teammates and coaches packed themselves around the exercise equipment to watch Webb and Gambill pledge their football and academic careers to Louisville and Memphis, respectively, on early national signing day Wednesday. The turnout signaled the pair’s importance to the Canes program, as well as their respect in the community.
“Great leaders, great young men of character,” Cartersville head coach Conor Foster said. “They’re what you want in a program. We talk about the purpose of our program, trying to build young men who are community leaders, build young men who will be greta husbands and fathers, and build young men who are going to leave a legacy in our program and in our community.
“I think the crowd we had is a reflection of the success we had in that endeavor. Just two great boys who this community really loves. It was great to see their support today.”
After each posed for a snapshot with immediate family, coaches and administrators, they spent several minutes handling photo requests from the dozens of attendees.
“It just means a lot, because there were some people who showed up who I hadn’t gotten to see in a while,” Gambill said. “It’s great to see that they still care about me. A lot of people were telling me how proud of me they are. That was just a really good feeling that a lot of people showed up and value Tee and I the way that they do.”
Neither player was a starter until their junior seasons, due to a wealth of talent ahead of them on the depth chart. Each bided their time, and now, they will be enrolling early to begin spring practices for their respective collegiate institutions.
Wednesday’s event represented the culmination of the years-long journeys.
“It’s awesome,” Webb said of his emotions. “I’ve really been looking forward to it for a long time. To be able to share it with the people out there, it’s been a wonderful experience for me.”
Webb will be joining Louisville after committing to the ACC program just months after Scott Satterfield took over as head coach. Nothing the former Appalachian State head coach has done since then has proved anything other than he’s the right person for the job.
Following a tumultuous 2018 season, Satterfield has led the Cardinals to a 7-5 record and a spot in the Music City Bowl opposite Mississippi State. He was named ACC Coach of the Year for his efforts.
“I really fell in love with the atmosphere, the fans and the coaches, especially,” Webb said of his reasons for choosing Louisville. “… They’re all-around really good guys. You can tell how much they really care about their kids and how they want them to not only be really good football players but also really good grown men. They help them out on the football field and also in life. That was really important to me in my decision making.”
Webb was one of 25 signees announced by the Cardinals on Wednesday. Nine of the players were listed as being from Georgia. Louisville has recruited the Peach State hard in recent years.
In fact, two of the three Cardinals quarterbacks to see significant playing time this year were from Georgia — junior Jawon Pass of Carver, Columbus and freshman Evan Conley of Kell. Webb looks forward to competing against them, along with sophomore Micale Cunningham.
“I’m very excited about it,” Webb said of the competition. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity I have to go up there and compete. That’s been very important to me since I committed there.”
Gambill will likewise look to make an immediate impact. He will be playing under a first-year head coach after Mike Norvell recently departed for Florida State. However, the coaching change only made Gambill more excited about attending Memphis, because the Tigers promoted offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield.
“I was drawn to him more than Norvell, who was the previous head coach and left for Florida State,” Gambill said, referencing Silverfield. “When Silverfield got the head coach job, it was like it was meant for me to go there. I knew everything was going to work out.”
Having met with Silverfield for an in-home visit recently, Gambill is looking forward to some of the changes the new head coach will make.
“He’s going to change some things up,” Gambill said. “It’s still going to be a high-powered offense, run-heavy, and that’s what I like about it. I like run plays. I like coming off the ball and hitting people.
“He liked Norvell and the things that he did, but he has some different views on some things that he wants to do. I think it will work out really well.”
Despite the coaching change, Memphis is a program that certainly seems to be on the rise from a national-perspective. The Tigers have played in the American Athletic Conference championship each of the past three seasons, finally breaking through this year, winning the program’s first conference title since 1969.
Memphis will face Penn State in the Cotton Bowl just weeks before Gambill reports to campus.
“I had some good offers, and I didn’t want to go to a team that was struggling and I didn’t see being successful in the next few years,” Gambill said. “… I think it’s going to be good when I go up there. I think we’re going to continue to win games, work hard and get what’s rightfully ours.”
Each player earned a three-star rating on 247Sports’ composite ranking. Webb checked in as the No. 16 pro-style QB in the country, while Gambill was the No. 121 offensive lineman.
Foster expects both to achieve plenty of success at the next level.
“They have a lot of good football ahead of them,” the first-year head coach said. “I think both of them are going to get bigger and stronger. They’re both going to mature physically but also mentally and spiritually. … I look forward to great things from both of them.”
Having just completed his inaugural season as head coach, Foster said he felt a special connection to this senior class. Webb and Gambill are two of the most accomplished players of that group, and Foster hopes they know highly he regards them.
“I hope that they know that I love them very much,” Foster said. “That is something that is extremely important to me. They are really, really special to me. They’re my first group, and we, our program, wouldn’t be nearly as successful without them. We won a lot of games along the way; we opened a new facility; and they got us through the transition of me becoming the new head coach. They’ve stepped up at every opportunity that they’ve been given.”
On one of their final days in the house they built, Webb and Gambill had a chance to reflect on their time as Canes.
“I’m going to try to remember it all,” Webb said. “I’m really going to miss the guys who have accepted me and took me under their wing when I moved here in the eighth grade. I can’t thank them enough.”
Said Gambill, “There’s nothing like it.”