Westover’s Brenton Wimberly, sitting between his parents Fredrick Wimberly and Kimberly Griffin, signs his national letter-of-intent Wednesday with Georgia Military College. (Staff Photo: John Millikan)
ALBANY — Long before Brenton Wimberly even considered starting his college football career at a two-year school, Trent Brown knew the route his little cousin would take.
Before long, Wimberly realized it, too.
Wimberly, Westover’s star defensive lineman and a big reason the Patriots won last season’s Region 1-AAAA championship, followed in the footsteps of Brown — his cousin and former Westover star lineman — and signed a national letter-of-intent Wednesday to play at Georgia Military College.
Brown went from GMC to the University of Florida, and Wimberly hopes to make the same leap to the Division I ranks after spending two years at the junior college in Milledgeville.
“Trent actually knew before I did. Trent told me, ‘You are going to wind up signing with Georgia Military,’ ” said Wimberly, who also sought the advice of former Albany High star and Georgia Military quarterback Emanuel Byrd. “He said (going to GMC) might have been one of the best things he ever did in his life, one of his best choices. Not only does it help you physically, but it helps you mentally as well. You become a man with all the training they do.”
Moving on to a Division I school isn’t just a fantasy for Wimberly, who was second in the state in sacks last season with 20 and also finished with 88 tackles and 38 tackles for loss. But in order to make the leap, he is being asked to change his position from defensive end to linebacker because of his 6-foot, 182-pound frame.
“I really think that I can play on the Division I level, and when I talked to coach (Bert) Williams from Georgia Military, he said the only thing that kept me from going Division I was my size,” said Wimberly, who is also a star discus thrower on Westover’s track & field team and the defending region champ. “So I believe if I get those two years at linebacker, move from defensive end to linebacker and get that experience and get my weight up then I will be a perfect fit at a Division I school.”
As a sophomore and junior at Westover, Wimberly played linebacker and as a senior sometimes played a hybrid position where he would rush the line without getting in a three-point stance, so he has skills to fall back on as he moves to full-time linebacker. Even so, he said he feels like he has something to prove at GMC.
“If you are No. 2 in the state in sacks, it looks like you should be somewhere,” he said. “I really think I should be at a Division I school, so I’m ready to go play and show that I belong on that stage.”
Wimberly also had offers from Division II schools Albany State and Clark Atlanta but instead chose GMC, a school where Westover coach Octavia Jones said Wimberly can thrive.
“He was a four-year player for me, and I definitely have enjoyed all four years with him,” said Jones, The Herald’s John Reynolds Coach of the Year for 2013. “He has worked extremely hard to afford himself this opportunity. He had a very good season this year. He was our defensive captain and team captain and FCA leader. He did a lot of things for us spiritually and on the field.”