LAURINBURG — Malique McDowell, a 2016 graduate of West Bladen High, has signed a letter of commitment to play his collegiate football with St. Andrews University in Laurinburg.
McDowell was the featured running back for the Knights his senior season and rushed for 1,065 yards and six touchdowns during an injury shortened campaign. He also caught five passes for 31 yards.
St. Andrews, a branch of Webber International University, will venture into the collegiate football arena beginning with the 2017 season. The Knights will play out of the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference, which recently merged with the Sun Conference to form the largest football conference in the country and include three divisions.
The Knights will be a part of the Appalachian Division along with Bluefield, Va., Cumberlands, Ky., Point, Ga., Pikeville, Ky., Reinhardt, Ga., and Union, Ky.
In late July, crews broke ground on St. Andrews’ future 1,500- to 2,000-seat football field, which will be located at the corner of Dogwood Mile and Magnolia streets and cost up to $750,000.
The school has also hired David Harper as its inaugural head coach. Harper comes to St. Andrews from Div. III Ferrum College in Ferrum, Va., where he has been the head coach since 2010. During his tenure as head coach, Harper won a conference title in 2012 and was 14-6 during his first two years, the best two-year record since 1991. His teams placed consistently in the top 15 in the nation in Div. III in a variety of offense statistics.
He was the associate head coach and offensive coordinator at Ferrum from 1999-2010 and won conference titles in 2001 and 2002. Harper served Ferrum as the defensive coordinator from 1993-1999 and filled other coaching positions at the school since 1989. He was on the staff at Davidson College from 1990-91.
McDowell is one of 58 freshmen recruited and signed by Harper. All 58 will be redshirted for the 2016 season in preparation for the 2017 season.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.