Beaufort Today -

Whale Branch football seniors sign with Palmetto Prep

  • Dan Hunt/Beaufort Today Cameron Wilson, Kai Wilson, Chris Wilson and their families engage in the signing portion of the ceremony.
  • Dan Hunt/Beaufort Today Kai Wilson and his mother grin at his signing.
  • Dan Hunt/Beaufort Today Chris Wilson and his mother look on during the ceremony.
  • Dan Hunt/Beaufort Today Cameron Wilson and his father during his signing.

Whale Branch seniors Cameron Wilson, Chris Wilson and Kai Wilson (no relation) have made the decision to pursue football at the next level.

All three will attend Palmetto Prep this fall, hoping to put in the work on the field and in the classroom to land a scholarship at a four-year university.

Whale Branch hosted their official signing March 15 in the school cafeteria as coaches, family, their peers and all of the football team celebrated their decision and accomplishments.

“These are good kids that had other opportunities, but this is really for the best,” coach Jerry Hatcher said. “It’s a big commitment from the families because they’re paying money out of pocket, but as a player, you’re gambling on yourself. And I think this gamble is going to pay off.

“In the last two years, Palmetto Prep has placed 56 players on scholarships. That’s about half. I’ve talked to (Palmetto Prep) in the past, but this is the first time we’re sending guys there.”

Cameron Wilson is a 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman who has been with Hatcher for all of the fifth-year coach’s time at Whale Branch. Wilson was a four-year starter who earned first-team all-region last season.

“I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity to play the sport that I love again. Second, I’d like to thank my coaches. I’d like to thank my family, my friends and my brothers for being with me for the long term,” Cameron said.

“It feels good to be done with this process because I never would have thought I would have gotten this far, but God was there with me.”

Chris Wilson was an offensive tackle and defensive end for the Warriors. He represented made it to the North-South game as an all-state performer this season.

“Coach Hatcher called the right defensive plays to put me in a position to make plays and my motivation came from my mother,” he said. “I’m going to miss playing in high school. It felt like a big stage. Now it’s time for me to go to a bigger stage, though.”

Chris is headed to Palmetto Prep focused on the classroom.

“This is going to help me better my ACT score so I can hopefully get a scholarship offer and go to a bigger campus.”

Kai Wilson’s road to Palmetto Prep was a bumpy one. Wilson fractured his collarbone in Whale Branch’s first contact practice last offseason after Chris Wilson himself landed on him. Kai then aggravated his collarbone weeks later playing a pickup basketball game.

Nonetheless, Kai played in Whale Branch’s five final games and got some minutes off the bench for the basketball team in the winter.

Wilson can play receiver, linebacker and defensive back.

“He’s got a tremendous skill set, so we think if we can get him into a prep school, we can get him some recognition,” Hatcher said.

Kai was relieved that the grind of taking the next step has come to a close, even if it’s a temporary one. He said his grandmother who passed away four years ago is his No. 1 inspiration.

“It was such a long process. I didn’t think I’d make it, getting two injuries back-to-back, but I feel blessed to get another chance,” he said. “When people have two injuries a lot of times they’ll quit, but I didn’t have that mindset because I knew I could make it somewhere.”