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After record-setting career, Northwest QB Brooker signs with new college program

May 9—TUNNEL HILL — Northwest Whitfield High School senior Owen Brooker made an impact in his four seasons starting at quarterback for the Bruins' football team.

Now he'll have a chance to help build a brand new college football program.

Brooker signed a scholarship with Anderson University in South Carolina on Monday afternoon at Northwest Whitfield's football field. He put pen to paper in front of dozens of teachers, teammates and family members, and he shared the appreciation he has for the opportunity.

"It means a lot," Brooker said. "Not everyone gets to do it, and I'm blessed to be able to do it, have the abilities. I'm humbled, I'm someone who is blessed to be able to do it and hope I can succeed there and hopefully we can make a lot of noise at Anderson."

Anderson University, a NCAA Division II member school and South Atlantic Conference member, sponsors 20 men's and women's athletic teams and is set to play its inaugural football season in 2024. The private, Christian university had a total enrollment of over 4,100 students in the 2022-23 academic year, making it the largest private university in the state according to statistics from a university press release.

Anderson is ramping up for the beginning of play in 2024 after announcing the school would add a football program three years ago. The school has been compiling a coaching staff, and an inaugural signing class of 56 players was announced in February. Anderson won't field a team this fall.

When it came to making a decision, Brooker noted the experience of that coaching staff — including current Anderson head coach Bobby Lamb, a former Furman University quarterback — and the city was part of the draw.

"I liked the culture there," Brooker said. "I was over there and visited a few months ago, and it seems like a good town. Everyone was very nice, and I like the coach there, Coach (Bobby) Lamb. He's been doing it a long time, and he's really good with offense and quarterbacks — he played quarterback at Furman. He knows what he's doing and I was drawn to that."

Brooker's future goal is to stay on the sidelines. After achieving a bachelor's degree, he hopes to return to Tunnel Hill to instruct student inside the school and on the gridiron.

"I want to be a coach," Brooker said. "I'm majoring in education, I want to teach and coach, maybe one day make it back here to Northwest. We'll see what happens, hopefully I can find success at Anderson, build myself a resume and find myself back here."

Brooker finished his career with 9,227 passing yards, good enough for the 13th-most in state history, according to Georgia High School Football Historians Association records. He's just ahead of former Pierce County and University of Georgia national championship quarterback Stetson Bennett (9,091) and just behind Prince Avenue Christian's Aaron Philo (9,326).

The 2022 Class 4A passing leader, Brooker threw for 84 touchdowns in his career, adding another 27 touchdowns on the ground.

The 2021 Region 7-4A Offensive and 2022 Co-Offensive Player of the Year's thoughts aren't only on the gridiron. As Brooker awaits the 200-plus mile drive from Tunnel Hill to his college home, he said his wish is that his effect on people outshines his effect on the field.

"When I look back, it's just really the relationships I made," Brooker said. "So many good friends that are here today. I just hope that, you know, they can say I was a good player or whatever, but I hope they think I was a good guy, did it the right way and set a good example to people. That's the legacy I want to leave, not that I threw for however many yards."