AVON — They marched up in waves, friends and family, coaches and mentors, teammates and peers.
One group after another, they surrounded Taisun Phommachanh and smiled for snapshots. From Pop Warner coaches from Bridgeport to the Avon Old Farms Headmaster, they came to honor the kid wearing the orange Clemson hat.
On a day when Phommachanh signed his National Letter of Intent with one of the most iconic programs in college football, there was a palpable sense of pride in the field house at Avon Old Farms.
“It takes a village … it takes a village to raise a kid,” said Jasmine Phommachanh, gazing at the crowd that turned out to support her son. “A lot of people helped him get here today.”
Taisun rose through Bridgeport, played two years at Harding before transferring to Avon Old Farms. All the while, he evolved into an elite quarterback prospect, drawing attention from top programs all over the country.
He verbally committed to Dabo Swinney’s program in April, lifting the burden of a life-altering decision months before his final year of prep school. And as Phommachanh solidified his place as one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, recruiters continued to hover.
“Yesterday,” Taisun’s father, Sam Phommachanh said. “It was crazy.”
Yes, recruiters were still trying to sway Phommachanh as recently as Tuesday. But Phommachanh never wavered.
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“The main thing is the people there, they’re real genuine people,” he said. “And I think I fall right into them and the system there. I can’t wait to get going.”
Sam, who played quarterback at Harding 1988-90, joked that Greater Bridgeport will have lots of people donning Clemson orange over the next few years. Bridgeport — and Stratford, where the family lives — is very much part of Phommachanh’s story.
That was evident over the past three falls, when a legion of friends and family would travel to Avon for games. It was even more obvious Wednesday, when signing day turned into a “this is your life” morning for Taisun.
“There’s definitely a community pride, the Bridgeport community and the Stratford community,” Sam said. “We definitely have deep roots in Bridgeport. … So much support.”
The family sent Taisun to Avon with hopes he would blossom as a person. His football skills were honed, but he also benefited as s student and man.
“To be successful here, you have to be a young man of integrity, high character, a great work ethic, obviously a family that supports you … He’s got all that in spades,” said Avon Old Farms assistant coach Matt Proffitt, Phommachanh’s position coach. “He’s a young man that works hard, understands that everything has got a process to it, and goes about things the right way.”
Jasmine and Sam, who have sent their young son Tyler to Avon Old Farms, have watched Taisun mature. Thriving at a boarding school is ideal preparation for college.
And playing football at a high level is the perfect path to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“They have kind of polished, kind of put a coat of polish on the great kid that he was already,” Jasmine said. “It’s like they taught him the little fine things that are going to get him ready for the next level.”
Taisun said he has been dreaming about playing big-time college football since he was 8 years old. He’s now a 6-foot-4 talent, a kid who saw his dream come true.
His mother talked about Taisun sacrificing to improve as a player. Long hours working out with an eye on playing in college.
“I just thank God,” she said. “We’re so grateful.”
And as signing day was ending and friends were mingling, Sam shook his head.
“Honestly? It’s a surreal moment,” he said. “An unbelievable moment.”