By Michael Lindsay
Seven White County High School athletes are taking their talents to the next level following Friday morning’s college signing ceremony held in Roy Sewell Gymnasium.
Warriorette soccer’s Abby Guy and White County football players Malaki Dowell, Garrett Johnson, Ryan Bumbalough, Hayden Bilbrey, Braxton Seevers and Kobe Jones each signed their respective letters of intent in front of teammates, family members and coaches.
Guy, the lone non-football participant and keeper for the Warriorette soccer team, signed with The University of Tennessee Southern Firehawks’ women’s soccer team. UTS is located in Pulaski and competes in NAIA’s Mid-South Conference.
Six White County football players signed their NLIs, led by senior Mr. Football finalist Malaki Dowell, who signed with Austin Peay State University in Clarksville.
“It’s super exciting and I’m glad to put pen to paper and make it official,” Dowell said. “I couldn’t be more proud of my teammates. They’ve worked just as hard as I have and it’s super nice to see them accomplish this. It means a lot to me that colleges are recognizing the work they’ve put in.”
Dowell had multiple offers before deciding on the Governors, who compete in the NCAA’s FCS ASUN Conference.
“Everything clicked,” he said. “When it went up there on my official visit. it just seemed like home. That’s the best you can recruit a player.”
While in school, Dowell looks to work toward a future in athletics.
“Physical therapy,” he said for his school plans. “My dream is to go to the next level, and if that doesn’t work I want to be a sports trainer like Brent Ryan and the others. I want to be around the game.”
Dowell led Tennessee in regular-season rushing with 2,595 rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns. Dowell totaled 472 rushing yards vs. Cookeville, 346 against Station Camp and 330 against Mt. Juliet. Dowell was a key piece in White County’s 9-3 season and first playoff win in school history.
Along with Dowell signing to Austin Peay, White County linebacker Garrett Johnson, FB/DL Ryan Bumbalough, OT Hayden Bilbrey, WR Braxton Seevers and OL/DL Kobe Jones all signed with the Bethel University Wildcats. Bethel competes in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference and is located in McKenzie, TN.
“It’s exciting for Sparta; it’s been a long time coming and those kids have earned it,” said first-year White County football coach Curtis Beaty, who was previously an assistant under Mark Frasier. “It sets a standard for this program to get kids to the next level and reach lifelong dreams. It’s a special day for me to see them come in as freshmen and then walk out as the men they are.”