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After more than a season on the sideline, Armwood senior Gabe Nold's career apparently has been resuscitated.
Nold, a Wharton transfer whose ineligibility for the 2012 season has been well chronicled, has committed to Division I-AA Gardner-Webb. Nold, who also had offers from Air Force and Coastal Carolina, finished up a weekend visit to the school in Boiling Springs, N.C., on Sunday.
"It means everything to me," said Nold (6-foot-2, 280 pounds), an honors student who is expected to graduate fourth in his class.
"I'm just so grateful for the opportunity to play at the next level. I'm so grateful for how the coaches stood by me and how hard Coach (Sean) Callahan and other coaches have pushed for me to get a scholarship to play in college."
Nold becomes the second Armwood player in five years to find a college home despite missing his entire senior season. Plant City transfer Sir Chauncey Holloway was deemed ineligible for the 2008 season after the FHSAA ruled he falsified his home address to enroll at the Seffner school. He eventually signed with Liberty University.
Nold, who transferred from Wharton last February after lettering three seasons for the Wildcats, was deemed ineligible last spring by then-Hawks principal Michael Ippolito, who determined the player had used false residency information to enroll.
A drawn-out FHSAA appeals process proved futile; Nold has filed a complaint against the FHSAA in Hillsborough County circuit court that is set to be heard this week.
Still, he attended each of Armwood's 13 games and missed only one practice. Following the Hawks' regular season home finale against King, the team presented him with a game ball.
"Just my love for the game," Nold said when asked why he endured. "I was always hopeful for a scholarship, and just my teammates and coaches, they just kept me going. It was a great environment and great atmosphere to be around."
Should he follow through with his commitment and sign with Gardner-Webb next month, Nold will join former Hawks WR Richard Jules and former Robinson TB J.J. Hubbard on the Bulldogs roster.
Gardner-Webb "just seemed like the right thing for me," Nold said. "It just felt like, you know, home. They really accept you and push the academics. You're not just another number to them, you're a person."