By DAVID GRAVELY
Concord University continues to attract the youth of Pulaski County to it’s campus in Athens, West Virginia. Joining the ranks for the Mountain Lions this fall will be yet another Cougar, as Tyler Dotson made his plans official this weekend when he signed his Letter of Intent to attend the university and become a part of the team led by Head Coach Garin Justice.
“They ask me if football was out of my system,” said the 6’1″, 180 pound Dotson. “I told them I didn’t think it was, so we talked about that for a while. I’ve been a fan of the school for a long time, and I’ve watched games there before. When I was in the seventh grade I went to a football camp there. We watched another former Cougar, Josh Miller, play there. If I can do something that makes the team better, then it’s worth the time I’ll spend on it.”
While Dotson hasn’t had a standout season as far as statistics go, most people who have watched him play know that he’s not afraid to do the little things that make the team better. While playing wide receiver this past season for the Cougars he only had two receptions for twenty yards, but it was his blocking at that position that helped the team the most. Dotson was also known for having one of the strongest work ethics on the team, and was always willing to play where ever he was needed.
“An athlete should always play for the team and not for himself,” said Dotson. “If you play your best and do everything you can to help the team find success, then eventually you’ll be rewarded for it. You can’t just show up on game day and expect to win though. You have to put the work in at practice and in the weight room. Everybody has to do their part for a team to be succesful. I’m looking forward to getting a chance to play again.”
Tyler’s father, Chuck Dotson, never thought that much about what Concord meant to him when he was a student there, but thinks that will all change now. “I always tell people I’m a Jaeger, WV guy. If I talked about school, I would talk about high school. I always looked at Concord as just the place I earned my degree from, but now it’s going be more than that. I was pretty sad when his senior season of football ended. I know he loves playing, so we’re all excited to see him get this chance.”
His mother, Patty Dotson, see’s another side of things outside of sports. “It’s really bittersweet. I’ve always been so incredibly proud of him for his attitude, his sportsmanship, and how he is so willing to do whatever he can to help the team. He always picks up his buddies, and he is a very selfless player. As a mom, of course, it’s tough to talk about him leaving home, but I know he’ll do a great job.”
Tyler plans to pursue a degree in business management and accounting, because he feels that those jobs are always going to be plentiful and offer opportunities. “I like math and money,” said Dotson. “Hopefully being good at one will help me make more of the other.”
While he won’t be receiving any football or athletic money as he starts his college career out, hard work in another area will be playing a major part in paying for his education. With a 4.02 grade point average, two years at the Southwest Virginia Governors School, and a number of dual enrollment classes under his belt, Dotson will be starting out just shy of being a sophomore at Concord. That high GPA and a solid SAT score will also gain him access to many grants and scholarships, including the much sought after Bonner Scholarship. He and his family will be continuing to fill out applications for other grants and scholarships through the summer.
Like several other athletes from Pulaski County, Tyler comes from a family with multiple children. In fact, Pulaski County won’t be without a Dotson in the ranks for several years still as younger brothers Tanner, a sophomore, and Chase, a fourth grader, make their way through the system. Tanner and Chase also both play football and baseball, and Chase is still active in rec league basketball.
So how do they feel about all of this? “I’m glad to see him getting this chance,” said Tanner. “I’ll hold things down here in Pulaski while he’s gone, but it will be fun to go watch the games.”
“I’m getting the bigger room now,” said Chase. “I’ll still let him sleep in the big bed when he’s home, but that room is going to be mine!”
On a more serious note, Tyler made a point of mentioning how much he would miss Pulaski County. “I’ve got some great memories growing up here. As far as football goes, I would have to say that winning against Magna Vista in the playoffs like we did, or playing quarterback when I was in the eighth grade at Dublin Middle School. Matt Hill was the quarterback for Andrew Lewis that year, and we really put it to them. In baseball, I think my hit against Christiansburg last year to advance us in the playoffs was my favorite memory. I was batting in the ninth spot, and I hit a three RBI triple to put us ahead. It was great.”
When ask what advice he would give to any young players making their way up through the system now, Tyler didn’t hesitate with his answer. “You have to be willing to work hard. Be a good team mate, be coachable, listen to your coaches, and never give up. You also have to take that attitude to the classroom. Not everybody is going to get an athletic scholarship. I found that out, and I’m fortunate that I’ve worked hard and focused on my grades to pull me through. Those grades and that hard work are going to give me another chance to do what I love.”