Madisonville North Hopkins’ Jeriah Hightower is now a Colonel as he signed his letter of intent to Eastern Kentucky University on Tuesday where he will be playing college football in the fall.
Hightower is the second Maroon football player to sign with a Division I program this year.
“It’s a great feeling and a surreal experience signing with EKU,” Hightower said. “I just feel good and I’m blessed. It’s a dream come true to play D-I football. I’m going to soak it all in.”
The running back is coming off of a monster season for North as he set school records for single-season and career-rushing yards in 2019 with 3,001 yards for the year and a total of 6,343 yards during his time as a Maroon. Both records were previously held by Sonny Collins, who graduated back in 1971 and had a successful college career at the University of Kentucky and played one year in the NFL.
Hightower also became the eighth running back to break 3,000 yards in a season in Kentucky high school football history. He ran into the endzone 33 times this season.
Hightower led his team to their best season in nearly 50 years for the program, reaching the semi-state round of the KHSAA Class 4A playoffs. On top of a demanding football season, Hightower had to narrow down his choices of where he wanted to go to college, receiving offers from UT-Martin, Illinois State, and Murray State. He also went on visits to UK and Louisville. Ultimately, he decided to go with EKU this past week.
“I prayed a lot when I was deciding,” Hightower said. “I asked God to give me a choice, and at the end of the day it felt like He wanted me to be at EKU.”
Hightower also gave credit to head coach Jay Burgett, who helped him through the recruiting process and made sure Hightower was ready for the next level.
“Coach Burgett showed me a lot,” Hightower said. “He showed me how to handle stuff that’s not in a negative way. He told me that even through adversity that we can overcome. I appreciate everything that he’s done for me and for this team.”
In the classroom, Hightower will be studying sports broadcasting and said that he will be involved with football after his playing days are over.
On the 2020 EKU football schedule, the Colonels will be hosting Murray State on Nov. 7. Earlier this week, Hightower’s teammate Blake Moody signed with the Racers as an offensive lineman.
“I can’t wait to play against Moody because he always has something to say,” Hightower said lightheartedly. “I can’t wait for him to take a loss on my home field and then give him a hug after the game because he’s one of my brothers.”
EKU will begin their season on Sept. 5 against Western Carolina.