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WAKE FOREST - Wake Forest High School's football program has produced numerous collegiate-level players and you can go ahead and add Isaiah Pipkin to that list.
Pipkin is a junior outside linebacker that is rising the ranks as one of the top high school football prospects going into this fall. He has accumulated multiple Division I offers, including Arizona State, Bowling Green State University, Howard University, the University of Akron, Georgia State and North Carolina Central University.
Entering his freshman year at Wake Forest, Pipkin didn't know which sport to focus on. He excelled at both basketball and football, but wanted to stick to one sport to play for the collegiate level.
"I debated on playing either basketball or football, but I chose football because it can be a year-round sport where you constantly have to work on your skill set," Pipkin said. "The outside linebacker position fits my body type more. I started out as safety, but then I got bigger, taller and stronger over the past couple of years."
Pipkin was on the junior varsity squad when Wake Forest won its third straight 4AA state championship in 2018. This past year, Pipkin's first year as a starter, he played both tight end and outside linebacker. On defense, he racked up 30 tackles, three for a loss, plus two sacks.
Pipkin's chance to play in his first state championship was shut down when the Cougars lost to Leesville Road 21-10 in the 4AA east regional final. It was the first time Wake Forest lost a playoff game since 2015.
Despite the playoff loss, Wake Forest has been a perennial program in the state. Pipkin said it's an honor to be a part of a successful culture that has secured three state championships over the years.
"It's something special to play for Wake Forest," Pipkin said. "We grow closer as a team after every win. From June to December, you build strong connections that carry throughout the rest of the school year. We have some of the best coaches in the country. I wouldn't want to play with any other program."
Entering his senior year, Pipkin has some personal milestones he would like to achieve before leaving Wake Forest.
"I want to lead the conference in all defensive categories," Pipkin said. "I want to be All-Team Academic and make straight A's. I'm trying to be in the top three in the state for tackles and sacks."
As far as the recruiting process goes, Pipkin has his targets set between two different schools: Arizona State and Bowling Green. He said the reason they stand out above the rest is how they treat him as a priority.
"The connection Arizona State and Bowling Green have made with me makes me feel like a part of the team already," Pipkin said. "They're reaching out almost every day asking how my family is doing. They're taking time out of their day to check up on me."
When he does go to college, Pipkin said he wants to study graphic design.
For now, he's focused on helping Wake Forest get back to the state championship. He wants to rally his teammates to lead a comeback charge to the state title.
"This year, the mindset is that what happened last year happened last year," Pipkin said. "You can't control the past. It's all about how we bounce back. Let's make people talk about Wake Forest again. We're not back to ground zero. We're going to come back stronger than we did last year."