Former Chapel Hill High track and field standout Jaylen Slade has decided to turn pro and forgo his senior season of eligibility.
Slade set three Chapel Hill records as a freshman before transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for his junior season.
He becomes the third high schooler this year to leap into the professional track and field ranks.
Slade, 17, has signed a five-year deal with Adidas that will cover the next two World Championships, the 2024 Olympics and another World Championship, said Dwight Thomas, who coaches Slade at IMG Academy.
“First and foremost, I want to express my utmost gratitude to the university and college coaches that have recruited me to this point,” Slade said in a statement through Adidas. “Knowing that they had the confidence to offer me an opportunity to attend and represent their prestigious institution is genuinely humbling. I have lived and learned invaluable lessons throughout this process that most 17-year-olds do not get the chance to. Through this, I have grown into the man I am today.”
Slade participated in the Olympic Trials last month in Oregon in the 100- and 200-meters events.
Thomas said that Slade and his family were in talks with Adidas before the Trials.
In addition, Adidas will pay for Slade, who turns 18 in October, to continue his education past high school.
“They really want to work with someone of his talent,” Thomas said to mile split.com, a website that reports on track and field. “He’s young and he’s an athlete where he has so much more potential to grow.”
Slade will continue to train out of IMG in Sarasota with Thomas, who is a three-time Olympian for Jamaica and a gold medalist at the World Championship.
Earlier this season, Slade had a wind-legal 10.09 seconds in the 100-meters and two other wind-assisted performances of 10.03 and 10.04.
He also ran the fourth-fastest 200-meter performance in high school history at 20.20 and reached the U.S. Olympic Trials in both events.
“He’s the full package,” Thomas told the website. “He has everything. He’s gifted. We just have to nurture his talent in the right way so he can grow and develop in the right direction.”