By Clint Parker
EHS – The Erwin High School auditorium was teeming with friends, family and fellow classmates and team members all present to watch the culmination of four years of hard work both on and off the football field for Erwin senior and standout Tristan Brank. On Thursday (Dec. 19th), Brank signed to play four years of football for the Zips at the University of Akron in Ohio.
As Erwin Head Football Coach Rodney Pruitt started the press conference, one of the items he mentioned about Brank was his career stats to date, which included 83 offensive ball catches 1,052 yards gained, and 15 touchdowns. Defensively he has 117 tackles, 13 tackles for loss of yards and 13 sacks. “Most importantly he’s done that in the classroom as well,” Pruitt emphasized “He’s had a strong work ethic. He’s taken the honor classes. He’s made the test scores obviously, to secure this scholarship.”
Pruitt went on to say, “ You have to check both boxes if you want to go on to the next level. You can’t just have the athletic prowess and achieve all the greatness on the field. If you don’t do it in the classroom, then you don’t get to this point.”
He added that Brank had offers from Tennessee Tech, Elon and North Carolina A&T. Pruitt then went on to put into a dollar amount what Brank’s hard work had achieved. “This athletic scholarship is worth over $31,000 a year. If you do that over four years, he’s earned a $125,000 scholarship. Now that’s a big deal!”
Brank was also given a chance to address those gathered to celebrate his moment of achievement. He started out by thanking his parents and coaches as his teammates. He then thanked Akron for recruiting him and some of the Erwin fans for their support before ending with “Well, that’s it” before symbolically signing.
“It’s exciting, a little bit overwhelming,” said Tristan’s mom, Anita Brank, about her oldest son’s opportunity to play at the college level. “A little sad because he’s going to be gone, but I’m excited for him.”
Tristan’s dad, Steven Brank, said that his son is really excited about the chance to play college ball. “He’s got a lot of work ahead of him in school and in football…I’m just proud of my son. He’s worked for what he’s got.”
“Very proud,” said Coach Pruitt when asked how it felt to see one of his players sign to play at the next level. “You know we treat them like sons and we have them for four years and we see them evolve and grow and develop with their skill level…but it doesn’t happen without the hard work, grit and determination. You got to have a drive as a kid. Got to be self-motivated and he did all those things.”
Here’s what Akron has to say about Brank
AKRON, Ohio — University of Akron head football coach Tom Arth signed 20 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period on Wednesday and one was Tristan Brank, said a statement on the college’s website.
Akron’s 2020 signing class is currently ranked No. 98 nationally and No. 6 in the Mid-American Conference by 247Sports.com, the Zips’ first Top 100 class ranking since 2009.
Here’s what the Zips had to say about Brank:
Tight End • Freshman • 6-4 • 230
Asheville, N.C. | Clyde A. Erwin HS
High School: WMAC All-Conference at tight end and defensive end for coach Rodney Pruett at Clyde A. Erwin HS … … as a senior, had 43 catches for 579 yards and nine touchdowns … as a junior, had 30 catches for 346 yards and three touchdowns … defensively, had 29 tackles and eight sacks … also lettered in basketball.
Personal: Born January 3, 2002 … parents are Anita Brank and Steve Brank … has a younger brother Brendon … plans to study business.