Central's Basham signs with Union College

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan, The Messenger

Hopkins County Central senior Earl Basham (center, seated) poses for photos after signing his national letter of intent to play football for Union College on Tuesday, alongside (from left) Central football assistant coach Robert Whitaker, assistant coach Michael Martin, head coach Stephen Wood, and South Hopkins Middle School coach Chris Manning.

MORTONS GAP — Hopkins County Central senior Earl Basham didn’t have the easiest high school football career.

Between tearing his meniscus his freshman year and then suffering an ankle injury halfway through his senior season, the road has been long and difficult for the young wide receiver/linebacker.

But Basham still reached his destination on Tuesday, as he signed his national letter of intent to play football for Union College.

“Feels really great, and all glory goes to God,” Basham said. “It’s a lot of hard work, going through a lot of adversity with knee injuries and ankle injuries, but I put in the time and the effort, I’ve had a great support system, good coaching staff, and all the hard work finally paid off.”

Basham finished with just two catches for 20 yards and 12 tackles in his injury-shortened senior season, but Union still saw his potential as a receiver and special teams player. It didn’t take long for Basham to fall in love with the small NAIA school in Barbourville and its attentive coaching staff.

“It was a real home feeling to it,” Basham said. “I could text their coach and they got back to me, and I could tell they really wanted me, as opposed to the other programs. I could go there and be a somebody as opposed to going somewhere else and being a body.”

The Bulldogs of Union College finished with a 5-6 overall record last season, including a 4-2 record in the Mid-South Conference. Central football coach Stephen Wood said Basham’s strength and hard work should help him be an asset when he joins the Bulldogs next fall.

“I think he’ll do well,” Wood said. “His work ethic this offseason has been tremendous, he’s improved regularly in the weight room, one of our strongest kids up there right now. I think that work ethic will allow him to carry over and be successful at the next level.”

“Whatever I can do to help,” Basham said. “My goal is to start, but if I have to sit out a few years to learn the offense, I will. But my ultimate goal is to start and be a playmaker.”

Basham said he intends to study to become a physical therapist while at Union, a dream he’s wanted to pursue for a long time.

“I’ve wanted to be one since I was in eighth grade,” Basham said. “It’s great money, I like to help people, it’s my thing, and I like it.”

Following a year where Central had no college football signees, Basham is now the third Storm football player to sign his letter of intent, something he hopes will inspire more players to join the team.

“If you come here and you put in the time and effort, you can go somewhere,” Basham said. “We’ve had three great athletes go and play, and we could have more if they want to.”

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