by Aaron Garcia
Kyle Eiss spent his high school career contributing to several Piedmont Panther sports teams, and whether he was playing football, wrestling or competing in the shot put, the newly graduated Eiss had a knack for success. He leaves the Unionville campus as a two-time all-conference choice at defensive tackle and as the all-time leader in wins for the wrestling program. Eiss recently signed a National Letter of Intent to play fullback at Wingate, and Union County Weekly (politely) asked Eiss to sit down and discuss his career as a Panther, his pair of brothers in the Marines and his future as a Bulldog.
Q: How does it feel to be done with your high school career?
A: It’s bittersweet. I’m going to miss my friends, but I’m looking forward to making new friends and new teammates.
Q: How did your college recruitment go?
A: It was long. It came down to two schools, basically: Wingate and (Virginia’s) Emory & Henry (College). But it wasn’t that hard of a choice to choose Wingate.
Q: What did you like about the Bulldogs?
A: They’re close, and they have a really good program. I really like Coach (Joe) Reich.
Q: Did you start to feel pressure to get that done?
A: Yes. I was really worried about if anybody wanted me or not. I was like, ‘I hope somebody comes and talks to me soon so I know.’
Q: Did you get discouraged?
A: Oh, yeah. At times.
Q: Did you ever think that you wouldn’t be playing next year?
A: All the time. I kept my head up and kept telling myself that I had to be patient.
Q: How was it when you signed your National Letter of Intent? What was going through your mind?
A: Just to not mess up my signature because my hand was shaking when I was about to sign. It was pretty awesome. It was a great feeling knowing that I accomplished that.
Q: Do you think you’ll get some time on the field this year as a freshman?
A: I think it just depends on how hard I work. If I work really hard this summer, I’m sure I can start next year. If I want it, I have to earn it.
Q: Was fullback your favorite position on the field?
A: Sometimes. I like defense because I’ve always played it, but playing fullback is something different. It was cool being able to run the ball.
Q: You became a strong offensive weapon for the Panthers’ offense. How was it to make that much of an impact on the offense?
A: It was so much fun knowing that I will get in the end zone every time that we were close to the goal line. It was a good feeling.
Q: How long have you been playing football?
A: Since fifth grade.
Q: Have you always played the same positions?
A: No. In middle school I played linebacker. Once I got to high school, they put me on the defensive line.
Q: Did you play fullback in middle school?
A: No, I was too heavy.
Q: Switching to wrestling, how did it feel to set the school’s all-time wins record? What did that mean to you?
A: It’s a good feeling, but I know next year it’ll be broken (by rising senior Parker Von Egidy). But I’m glad somebody is going to do it.
Q: Would it make it easier if it was broken by someone you know?
A: I’d rather it be done by him than anybody else. He’s a good wrestler. He deserves it.
Q: How long have you been wrestling?
A: Since sixth grade.
Q: Did you start wrestling to prepare yourself for football?
A: Yes. That was my main goal, to help my balance and agility for football.
Q: Did it help your toughness?
A: Actually, I think football helped with toughness for wrestling, especially being on the defensive line and always getting beat up.
Q: Was it a tough transition to join the wrestling team a couple of weeks into the season?
A: Yes. My first two years wrestling, I had to cut weight to 215 (pounds), and I was about 245 after football season, so it was really rough. But my junior and senior seasons, I just wrestled heavyweight, so it wasn’t that big of a transition for me.
Q: You’re small for a heavyweight at 230 pounds – how often did you give up weight in a match?
A: All the time, pretty much. Probably nine out of every 10 matches.
Q: How tough was that?
A: Not tough. With my strength, I pretty much stayed with everybody.
Q: Do you think your weight helped you?
A: Yeah, because I was quicker than everybody else.
Q: Did you ever want to wrestle in college?
A: Not really. It went through my mind, but it’s not what I wanted to do.
Q: So football is your first love?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: What are you most proud of when you look back on your high school career?
A: Probably winning the conference championship in my junior year football season with all of those guys.
Q: How nice is it knowing that in your four-year career, Piedmont became one of the strongest teams in Union County?
A: It was a nice feeling just knowing all that hard work we put in paid off.
Q: What are your impressions of new Piedmont football coach Ron Massey?
A: He seems like a really good coach, and he knows what he’s doing. I think he’s going to keep it going.
Q: Who’s been your biggest football influence?
A: Coach (Chris) Vangas, our strength and conditioning coach and defensive line coach. He was just always in my face trying to make me better. He’d yell and scream at me, but I knew he was only doing that to (make me) better. He pushed me in the weight room all the time.
Q: Were your older brothers (Kevin and Cody) big influences on you?
A: The oldest one (Kevin) is because he’s going to try to come play with me at Wingate. He’s in the Marines right now, but he gets out soon, so next year he’s going to try to come play with me.
Q: What positions did he play?
A: Outside linebacker and fullback.
Q: What’s it like having two brothers in the Marines?
A: It’s scary, but kind of cool to have them in the Marines sometimes.
Q: What impact has their service had on you?
A: I’m just so proud of them, just to say they’re my brothers and what they’ve done for us.
Q: What’s your favorite kind of music?
A: I like everything, but pretty much country music.
Q: Favorite artist?
A: Probably Brantley Gilbert.
Q: What’s your favorite food?
A: That’s a tough one. Probably macaroni and cheese.
Q: Who outside of athletics has influenced you the most?
A: Probably my dad, Mike.
Q: What does your dad do?
A: He’s a police officer in Waxhaw.
Q: You’re a Tim Tebow fan. What do you like about him?
A: Just his enthusiasm, his passion to play and his spirituality.
Q: What do you want to major in at Wingate?
Q: What do you want to be doing in five years?
A: That’s tough. I don’t know the answer to that question yet.