Union County’s Blake Gowder accepts Vandy offer

Union County’s Blake Gowder lives slap-dab in the middle of Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by 4,000-foot mountain peaks and clear, swift-flowing streams. It’s known for its great hiking and camping and outdoor activities but not so much for football.

Blake Gowder was a standout player on both sides of the ball for Union County, starring at wide receiver and linebacker. He accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt this week. (Special photo)

Blake Gowder was a standout player on both sides of the ball for Union County, starring at wide receiver and linebacker. He accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt this week. (Special photo)

Then Gowder came along. Union County’s star wide receiver and linebacker accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt University this past Sunday night. Best anybody can tell, that makes him the first Union County citizen to accept a full ride from a Division I football program in more than 30 years.

“It was definitely harder [to get noticed] just because of where I’m located,” Gowder told me this week. “But it’s all worth it to me. I’m glad to be one of the few that went to a big school in this town. Somebody told me I was only the second person who got a Division I scholarship from here. A few others have walked on.”

Gowder couldn’t say for certain who was the other guy. He said it was “somebody named Rogers” who went to Auburn in the 1970s and quit after one year.

“Hopefully I’ll be the first one to play all four years and graduate,” Gowder said with a laugh.

Considering the numbers he put up his senior season, it’s hard to imagine Gowder not getting noticed.

With a 152 yards receiving, 45 rushing and five touchdowns in his career finale against Banks County (he also had 12 tackles on defense), Gowder wrapped up his season with 70 catches for 1,192 yards and 18 total touchdowns (13 receiving, four rushing and one on a 55-yard interception return).

Still, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Gowder’s best offers at that point were from Air Force, South Alabama, Furman, Murray State, Georgia State and Samford.

But Gowder had long held out hope that Vanderbilt would offer. His visit for the Kentucky game this past weekend represented his fifth trip to Nashville, including three camps dating back to the summer before his junior year at Union County.

“The first time I went there I was pretty impressed and just kept getting to know the coaches better and the town and all that,” Gowder said. “I just really liked it. I decided a while ago that if they offered that’s where I’d go. I’d probably pick [Vanderbilt] over everywhere else even if I had other offers.”

There’s an added bonus, too.

“I’m a pretty big country music fan, so that’s good,” Gowder said with a laugh.

20 comments Add your comment


November 18th, 2009
11:07 am

yep keep up the good work with that! FIRST BABY FIRST WHEWWWWWWWWWWWWW



November 18th, 2009
11:26 am

Congratulations young man, You get to play football in the Sec, Live in a great city and get a world class education.


November 18th, 2009
11:35 am


Joe Blow

November 18th, 2009
11:57 am

Guarantee he’ll win at least 2 out of 4 career games against GA. 45-19!

20 wins in a row

November 18th, 2009
12:52 pm

Gators chalked up another top recruit yesterday, Under Armour All American Joshua Shaw all the way from California.

Savannah Jacket

November 18th, 2009
2:22 pm

20 in a row… I don’t know what you are so excited about. Everyone knows that Urban Cryer is announcing his retirement from UF in January, then pursuing a career with Jacksonville Jags so that he can convince them to make Tee-Bag a 1st round pick and they can continue thier love-fest in the NFL. They UF will be force to hire Tommy Bowden and loose for the next 10 years.


November 18th, 2009
3:08 pm

Joe What Do You Blow?


November 18th, 2009
3:23 pm

I don’t know… I might have went with Air Force… A $1,000,000 education and a guaranteed job after graduating… Plus Air Force usually gets to a bowl game…. Depends on what you want I suspect.


November 18th, 2009
4:28 pm

The somebody named Rogers actually studied in college and is
a very successful financial planner.He was the class B back of the year.


November 18th, 2009
4:54 pm

That somebody named Rogers was the best player around in the high country of North Georgia in the mid-1970s. All of us rivals of Union County pointed to every game he played in because we wanted to beat him. Sometimes we won, many times we didn’t. He was also a pretty good basketball and baseball player, too. Shows you how the makeup of those counties up north have changed in population. No way a native Union Countian would not have known the guy.

GA Tech Insider

November 18th, 2009
5:09 pm

Hard work and perseverance pays off for those who are worthy, and obviously, Blake has proved that not only can he cut it on the playing field, but in the classroom as well.Well Done!

Best of luck in all of your endeavors, Blake. You’ve done your family proud!


November 18th, 2009
5:38 pm

I hate to tell you guys, but Rogers didn’t go to a D1 school. MTSU was a D2 school back then. Gowder must have been mistaken about the name. I also hate to inform you TL that Gowder is a native of Blairsville. How would a kid born in the early 90’s know about a player who graduated over 30 years ago?? It’s not like Rogers is a legend !!

Wrong Info

November 19th, 2009
3:41 pm

Ben Arndt the starting GT punter (on scholarship) before Durant Brooks went to the same high school. He played with this guy’s older brother.


November 19th, 2009
3:57 pm

Yes, Arndt earned a schloraship his senior year after walking on his junior year. Andrew Williams did the same thing at UGA after playing 4 years.


November 20th, 2009
8:37 am

If I’m not mistaken Union Co.’ s star QB in 1976 , Mickey Jones, signed on the dotted line with Auburn. I had the pleasure of playing with both Mickey Jones and Robby Rogers. After watching Brad Gowder play for the last 4 yrs. I’d say he’s right there with them as far as talent. Gowder’s big and strong and uses his blocking as well as any one I’ve seen run the ball after a catch. Has great hands and open field vision. Congrats Brad I know you’ll be a great player for Vandy.


November 20th, 2009
9:02 am

To Native. Robby Rogers may not be a legend but he will always be considered as one of the best players ever to wear purple and gold.Bill Jones, Mickey Jones, Robby Rogers,and Jim Williams were the best players to ever play for Union Co. But now you can add Brad Gowder and Colt Owenby to that list. As far as I’m concerned these are the best players to ever wear purple and gold. And as for Robby Rogers, he gained over 1,600 yards and scored 22 TD’s his senior year and was also named the back of the year in our classification. He could have easily surpassed 2000 yds. but he was taken out of the game usually in the 3rd qt. due to being so far ahead of our opponent. He may not be a legend to you, but those who watched him play and those of us who played with him he is a legend. He is the best all around player to ever play at Union Co. period.


November 20th, 2009
9:44 am

Sorry everyone. I meant to type Blake Gowder. Brad is Blake’s brother whom was a pretty good athlete himself. Goooooo Vandy!!! Know you’ll do good Blake. Sorry for the mistake.

Simply a dawg

November 20th, 2009
11:16 am

Why didnt Richt offer this guy ? Huh ? Lets fire the coach.. wait.. lets fire the AD, wait just fire willie…

yeah.. that’s it.. fire Willie


December 1st, 2009
7:37 pm

Blake is a great athelete, best WR I had ever seen. He is very big for a receiver and he is also quick and has good hands. Just a monster WR, but I remember Gowder’s junior year against Fannin, it was a great game. FANNIN OVER UNION!!!! HAHA And I was the corner that shut Gowder down!! HA If I didn’t graduate, we would have handled you this past year as well. But congrats on the offer Gowder! Playing you was fun and challenging! Hope to meet with you again and maybe this time I can show you how good I am with two hands instead of one arm and a club ;)

Blake Gowder

January 6th, 2010
8:40 pm

Hate to tell you rebel_22 but I had 4 td’s and over 200 yards recieving that game against you so you didnt even come close to shutting me down.