ELIZABETHTOWN — Former local baseball star Tyrell Godwin will be honored Friday night at the East Bladen versus West Bladen football game when his Eagles baseball number will be retired in a special ceremony at halftime.
Godwin graduated from East Bladen where he was a stand-out two-sport athlete, playing both baseball and football. Under the tutelage of coach Russell Priest, he was ranked among the Top 50 prep players in the nation as a high school senior and was a two-time prep All-American in baseball. His senior year in high school, Godwin was rated by “Baseball America” as the top prep player in the state of North Carolina.
On the gridiron, he was rated by the “Durham Herald Sun” as one of North Carolina’s top five prep players and was featured in a 1997 “Sports Illustrated” article chronicling two-sport athletes.
His senior year at East Bladen, Godwin earned the title of the NCHSAA Male Athlete of the Year (1996-97 academic year).
During his senior year at East Bladen, Godwin rushed for 2,060 yards and ran for 34 touchdowns on the football field. That same year in baseball, he was ranked as the best high school baseball player in the state.
But, Godwin was not just an outstanding athlete. He excelled in the classroom, too, graduating as valedictorian of his high school class in 1997.
Shortly after graduating from East Bladen, Godwin was a first-round draft choice by the defending World Series champs, the New York Yankees. However, he had also been offered the prestigious John Motley Morehead Scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the highest academic scholarship offered at the university. Godwin declined the Yankees’ contract offer so he could be a Morehead Scholar at UNC.
While at UNC, Godwin played football for two years, where he led the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 27.8 kickoff return average in 1998 and set a UNC record with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Stanford on September 19, 1998.
Though he proved to be an outstanding Tar Heel athlete on the football field, baseball was really Godwin’s sport. While at UNC, his cumulative batting average was .362 and he amassed 54 stolen bases. His sophomore year at Carolina, Godwin was a first-team All-ACC selection and was among Carolina’s leaders in virtually all offensive statistical categories. He was named the ACC’s fastest runner by “Baseball America.”
After his sophomore year at UNC, Godwell decided to devote his full attention to baseball. During the summer between his sophomore and junior years, he was selected and played for the U.S. National Team, traveling with the elite squad in games all over the country and the world. He started in 34 of the 37 games he played for Team USA.
His junior year at UNC, he hit .363 with 11 home runs, 67 RBI, and 24 stolen bases. After his junior year at UNC (2000), Godwin was drafted by the Texas Rangers, but he did not sign, choosing instead to finish his college education. Godwin was named an All-American and All-ACC as a junior.
He graduated early from UNC-Chapel Hill with a bachelor’s degree in history; he was an ACC Academic Honor Roll student and on the Dean’s List at UNC every semester.
After graduating from UNC, Godwin was again drafted in the MLB, this time by the Toronto Blue Jays (2001) in the third round of the amateur draft. He played in the minor league for the Blue Jays until 2004, when he was picked up by the Washington Nationals in the “Rule Five” Major League Draft. He played on the Nationals’ farm club in New Orleans, where he hit .321 with nine home runs, 48 RBIs, and 22 stolen bases.
He was pulled up to the Washington Nationals on May 27, 2005, for a short stay in the “big leagues” before returning to New Orleans.
Last month, Godwin was named as one of the NCHSAA’s top 100 male athletes in its centennial celebration. Godwin joined the ranks of famous North Carolina athletes on this list, which included Michael Jordan, Sonny Jurgenson, Pete Maravich, Chester McGlockton, Otis Nixon, Gaylord Perry, David Thompson, James Worthy, Phil Ford, Roman Gabriel, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, and Trot Nixon.
For the past five years, Godwin has worked for BB&T and has earned his way to his current position as one of the banking firm’s assistant vice-presidents. He is a corporate recruiter for BB&T’s leadership development program and is based in the company’s Winston-Salem headquarters office.
Godwin and his wife, Nichole, live in Winston-Salem with their young son. Godwin’s parents are Carl and Ida Godwin of Council.