West Limestone's River Helms wasn't able to do recruiting the normal way due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He couldn't take any campus visits or meet with coaches face-to-face.
So he had to rely on the relationships he had built up from the time schools started recruiting him. When he did that, he decided Western Kentucky would be the place for him.
Helms signed Friday morning with the Hilltoppers in a ceremony at the West Limestone gymnasium. He chose WKU, located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, over Georgia Tech, which he had previously committed to. Helms said the relationships he made with the Western Kentucky coaches made the difference.
“It really came down to relationships,” Helms said. “I've had a relationship with all the coaches there since early last year, which was when the process first started for me. It's also close to home, so my family and community can come watch me. It's a place where I'm going to enjoy living, so I knew that would be the place for me.”
Helms said recruiting was much different this year due to the pandemic, but he was still able to talk with numerous coaches and see different campuses, albeit virtually.
“The biggest part was not being able to go anywhere and see any coaches or players in person during official visits,” Helms said. “But it's something that everybody is going through, so you just have to get through it. I had Zoom calls everyday, coaches showing me everything about the campus and football facilities, things like that. They showed you everything they would in person, just instead it was on Zoom.”
Helms did a little of everything for West Limestone this year. His primary position is tight end, but he also played defensive back, returned punts and punted.
He had 38 receptions for 595 yards and 10 touchdowns, 16 carries for 118 yards and four touchdowns, 43 tackles and an interception on defense and also returned a punt for a touchdown in addition to averaging 38 yards per punt.
West Limestone coach Shelby Davis said Helms' hard work and determination helped drive him to the level he wanted to achieve, which was playing Division I college football.
“I think he's probably the only kid I've ever seen that said 'Hey, I'm going to do this,' and then went out and did it,” Davis said. “He set his mind to something and he went after it, and I don't think I've ever seen another kid go after it like River has. He set the standard high for West Limestone football, and that's the standard we want to have. We're proud of him, and we're going to miss him.”