McMillan, Bowers sign with Union College

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Three more county players also sign

By George Wacha

Many students could only dream what has become a reality for Terry McMillan and Garret Bowers, both 2004 graduates of Crenshaw Christian Academy (CCA). The pair - best friends, classmates and teammates during school - will now be roommates and teammates in college, playing football for the Union College Bulldogs in Barbourville, Ky.

CCA Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Roland Jones said he is extremely proud of the two.

"They are both going to start on August 8, and have both received full athletic scholarships to attend Union College," said Jones. "That is really all I am ever concerned with - getting kids into college."

Jones said the term "full" did not necessarily mean "free" though - both students will have to pay a considerable amount on their own.

"While they both have earned four-year football scholarships, the award is only estimated at $10,000 per year, while the tuition costs roughly $18,000 per year," said Jones. "But they have both qualified for Pell Grants, the Work Study program, and Parent-Student Loans through the school, without interest."

Jones said the pair were a great force on the gridiron together this year.

"Terry moved here from Florida during the second week of this past season," Jones said. "He made it clear from the start that he wanted to go beyond high school with his athletic abilities. He worked very hard, both in school and on the field, so I contacted some people I knew at Union College, and also at Bel Haven, which is a college in Jackson, Miss."

Jones said at that point either college would have suited McMillan.

"He really didn't know much about either school," Jones said.

Bowers, on the other hand, was thinking more toward baseball then football.

"Garret was playing here when I came here last summer," Jones said. "I carried him to several baseball college prospects, and he did not know for sure whether he wanted to play baseball or football in college. I kept talking to him, and he kept working in the weight room."

Jones said he took the pair to both colleges.

"I loaded them both up, and took them to both Bel Haven and Union College," he said. "They both liked Union better, because it was in a small town, and it had a good Christian atmosphere - they both decided it was what they wanted."

Jones sent films of the CCA Cougar football games to Union and to Bel Haven, and both schools were impressed with the pair.

"My big thing is that want kids to get into college," Jones said. "It doesn't matter where, as long as they are taking their educations to new heights."

"The campus at Union was the biggest selling point to both boys," Jones said. "They really felt at home at Union."

Jones said while McMillan knew right away that he wanted to go, it wasn't until almost graduation time that Bowers made his mind up.

"A couple of weeks before graduation, Garret came in to my office and told me it was what he wanted," Jones said. "Terry had already committed by then to go to Union."

Since graduation, McMillan has been staying with Terry and his family, preparing to go to college.

"Terry's family had to move back to Florida, so he has been staying with Garret, and the two are working out together, preparing to go to Union on August 8," Jones said. "Union sent them a book outlining what the athletic department wanted them to do for the summer, so they are working out four days per week, and running seven days per week to prepare."

McMillan played for CCA at quarterback, while Bowers played tailback and linebacker.

"Terry has been signed as one of two quarterbacks the school recruited this year, while Garret has been recruited as a defensive back," Jones said.

But the pair will not be alone more than eight hours from home either.

"Jamyal Jones and DeLange Harris, whom I had the opportunity to coach during my 13 years at Brantley High School, called me before we went to the colleges," the coach said. "They needed a ride to the schools themselves, so I took them with us."

Jones and Harris have both signed with Union College, in addition to another CCA Cougar, Brandon Heartsill.

"Brandon has signed up to play with Union College as a 'walk-on' player," he said. "So there will actually be five Crenshaw County boys playing for the Union College Bulldogs."

"We are very excited about our incoming class of freshmen," said Tommy Reid, head football coach and assistant athletic director at Union College. "We feel that this year's class is the best since I took over as the head football coach. We signed some quality players that we expect to come in and compete right away."

One of the biggest concerns for Union was the offensive line, as three of last year's five starters graduated. The Bulldogs sought to remedy this by signing 12 offensive linemen. They also added five running backs, three wide receivers, three tight ends and two quarterbacks.

Twenty-one of the incoming class are from Kentucky, while 10 are from Georgia, six players are representing both Tennessee and Virginia, and five are from Alabama.

The Union College Bulldogs will open the 2004 season at UVA-Wise, on Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. Union went 4-7 overall and 3-6 in the Mid-South Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) last year.