|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior cornerback Austin Beal became the third player to commit to Lindsey Wilson recently.|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Tyler Robinson will walk on at the University of Louisville.|
Senior cornerback Austin Beal committed to the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders, TJ Sipple will play for Mt. St. Joseph and senior defensive tackle Tyler Robinson will walk on at the University of Louisville Cardinals. The three helped the Highlands Bluebirds to a 48-11 record in four years of high school. That included two state championships, a state runner-up finish, four district championships and four region championships.
Beal will join two other classmates at Lindsey Wilson in kicker Jared Dougherty and offensive lineman Bo Hebel. Two other former Bluebirds just completed their first season at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program located in Columbia, Kentucky near Glasgow. They are 2015 Highlands graduates Lou Bunning on the offensive line and D.J. Mills on the defensive line. Bunning redshirted, but Mills won't be returning to Columbia this fall.
"That's actually the reason I'm going down there," Beal said. "Jared Dougherty and I have been best friends since freshman year. As soon as I found out he was going down there, I somewhat knew that was my place to go. Having Bo go down there is a plus. It will be fun."
Beal recorded three interceptions this past season for Highlands and returned a punt for a touchdown at Cooper. The Bluebirds finished 8-6 last year losing to Pulaski County, 41-31 in the Class 5A state semifinals.
Lindsey Wilson finished 8-3 this past season, made the NAIA playoffs for the second straight season and earned the program's first-ever top ranking. Lindsey Wilson also finished 3-2 in MSC action.
"Lindsey Wilson has done a great job recruiting our guys," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "The players have really enjoyed their visit and like the coaches. It is amazing how far Lindsey Wilson has come in such a short period of time. With the guys they have gotten from Highlands this year along with their other recruits, Lindsey Wilson will only continue to get better."
Lindsey Wilson started up the program again in 2010 after a 75-year hiatus. Under Head Coach Chris Oliver, Lindsey Wilson has gone 41-26 in six seasons.
"They was a huge factor. Coach Oliver stepped up and started the program seven years ago," Beal said. "From where they started to where they are now, it's a big improvement. I'm happy to be a part of the team. It will be a great football experience down there."
Beal said he will either look to become a Physician Assistant or Physical Therapist.
Robinson will major in Biomedical Engineering at Louisville. That was the most important factor in his decision to walk on there.
"I was just trying to find a college that had my major," Robinson said. "I got in contact with them and sent them some of my film. Then I went down for a visit and they said they'd like me to come play football for them."
The Cardinals finished 8-5 last year after an 0-3 start. They beat Texas A&M. 27-21 in the Music City Bowl.
The Cardinals run both 3-4 and 4-4 defenses. Robinson drew a lot of attention on the defensive line from opponents this past year. That included a lot of double and triple teams.
"It's going to be a big thing to take on some double teams and take on some bigger people than I'm used," Robinson said. "But it's all within practice. You're just going to have to work a little harder."
Robinson led Highlands with 11.5 tackles for a loss of 33 yards. He also had four sacks totaling 27 yards and a forced fumble.
That makes five players from that senior class going on to the next level. Quarterback Austin Hergott committed to Central Michigan University last summer.