NAPLES — Despite heading more than 1,200 miles away to play college football, Vince Parker and Rick Beaubrin won’t be alone.
The Gulf Coast seniors not only will team together again at Baldwin-Wallace next season, but they’ll be reunited with a former teammate. Sebastian Zuluaga, a 2011 Gulf Coast grad, who was a freshman for the Yellow Jackets this past season.
“It’s great because we’re bringing Florida football up north,” Parker said. “We’re going to show ‘em what we got down here.”
Parker and Beaubrin made their commitments official at a signing ceremony Tuesday in the Gulf Coast media center. Also taking part in the ceremony was Sharks baseball player Nathan Kendrick, who signed to play at Cornerstone College.
The Gulf Coast football players said the family atmosphere was what drew them to Baldwin-Wallace, a Division III school in Cleveland. Having Zuluaga, who played in seven games as a true freshman, there helped Parker and Beaubrin feel at ease.
“I visited in April and spent some time with Sebastian,” Beaubrin said. “I really felt at home there. It felt family oriented. Playing with two kids I played high school ball with helps.”
The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Parker plans to play middle linebacker, where he started for three years at Gulf Coast. A two-year captain, Parker led the Sharks with 95 tackles his senior season.
Beaubrin will be a receiver and should get a few rushes in the Yellow Jackets offense. The 6-foot, 205-pound senior played his sophomore and senior years at Gulf Coast and played at First Baptist as a junior.
After tearing his ACL as a junior, Beaubrin played this past season with a brace on his leg. He said he’s just now back to 100 percent and hopes to get faster and stronger at Baldwin-Wallace.
Kendrick is headed to Cornerstone, a first-year NAIA program in Grand Rapids, Mich. The Golden Eagles broke ground late last year on an $8-million baseball complex, and Kendrick said he’s excited to use the school’s top-notch facilities.
“I can go up there and start something new and fresh,” Kendrick said. “The facilities are amazing, especially for an NAIA school. I’m looking forward to a new start.”
A two-year varsity player at Gulf Coast, Kendrick said he’ll likely play outfield at Cornerstone, but could play some middle infield.