Chaney, Lowe choose ACC, SEC on National Signing Day
There was little suspense or pageantry to the Cartersville High football program’s version of National Signing Day.
There weren’t any surprise announcements, TV cameras or ceremonial hijinks like at hundreds of other schools Wednesday, the first day high school seniors could sign National Letters of Intent with their chosen college football programs.
Instead, there were just a few dozen family and friends gathered before school for a couple of pictures in an understated ceremony at the media center.
However, the lack of pomp and circumstance did not diminish the significance of the event, as two of the Purple Hurricanes’ most prominent players signed scholarships to play for major college football programs.
Defensive end Isaiah Chaney honored the commitment he made in February to play for Wake Forest. Meanwhile, tight end Jackson Lowe made it official that he’ll play for the University of Tennessee.
“Super proud of them, both as individuals and as football players,” Cartersville head coach Joey King said of Chaney and Lowe. “They’ve both come a long way as people too, and that part’s more fun to see than their development as football players because they’re both great kids.”
A quick glance over the room Wednesday morning and it would have been fairly easy to pick out who the two major football recruits were — Lowe and Chaney both stand at 6-foot-4 and weigh at least 225 pounds, and both were dressed for the occasion in their future team’s colors.
However, as each of them will admit, when they first set foot on the practice field adjacent to Weinman Stadium, neither one of them looked much like the ACC or SEC recruits they’d eventually become.
“Extremely awkward. Both of them were just big and gangly, kind of like baby giraffes,” King said. “I hate saying this, … but they trusted the process. They’re both big, and a lot of people think just because they’re big they should be playing. There’s still a lot of development that had to take place. They both bought into the weight room, worked extremely hard. They got bigger and stronger and faster, and obviously it’s paid off for them.”
It’s fitting Chaney and Lowe signed together considering each of their recruitments moved in lockstep. Neither was on the radar of major college programs early in the process, but each of their recruitments moved quickly.
Wake Forest was actually the first to offer a scholarship to both Lowe and Chaney. Demon Deacons defensive line coach Dave Cohen saw Chaney at a spring practice before his junior year and offered soon after. Within the next few months, other schools followed suit with an offer, including Syracuse and Vanderbilt.
For Chaney, his coaches at Cartersville and the college coaches who recruited him saw the potential of the long, athletic defensive end before even he did.
“I didn’t really expect any of this to happen,” Chaney said of his recruitment. “Coach King always thought I’d be able to go to college. So if he believed in me, that meant I had to believe in myself as well. And now I’m here.”
Lowe’s recruitment was an even more expedited process than Chaney’s. He received an offer after his junior year from Wake Forest, and then 26 more offers from every major program in the country in a three-month span from December 2017 to the beginning of March 2018. The list of offers included Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, USC, Georgia and seemingly every other major program in the country.
Lowe signs as the 12th-ranked tight end in the Class of 2019 and the 345th-ranked prospect in the country, according to 247 Sports’ composite recruiting rankings.
It would have been hard to envision that kind of rise to prominence on the recruiting circuit before Lowe hit that spurt of scholarship offers after his junior season.
“I did not know any of this would happen,” Lowe said of the recruiting process. “I got an offer from Wake Forest and Toledo and North Carolina, but once Clemson offered, I knew I was going to get some bigger offers.”
Chaney said UCF, Vanderbilt and Minnesota recruited him hard, even after he committed to Wake. And while he was tempted to use his visits to other schools to complete the recruiting process, he never really wavered from the Demon Deacons.
“The campus is small, so everybody knows each other. Everybody is friendly, everybody gets along, so that plays a big role,” Chaney said of his reasons for choosing Wake. “That played a big role in my decision — going there, knowing everybody and to just not be a statistic.”
Lowe cited his relationship with the coaching staff as the reason he chose Tennessee. And, ironically, with Lowe’s dad, Ryan Tutherow, dressed in Tennessee gear at Wednesday’s signing, it was impossible not to notice the striking resemblance between Tutherow and Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
“People ask me that a lot. Like, ‘Is that Jeremy Pruitt?,'” Lowe said of the likeness. “[Pruitt is] a cool guy. He’s very laid back. Most coaches, they’re intense. I know he’s intense too, but he just feels like a regular dude when you talk to him. … Coach [Brian] Niedermeyer, my position coach, he’s a good guy and he’s funny.”
Like their recruitments, Chaney and Lowe’s careers at Cartersville also followed similar timelines. Neither saw many meaningful snaps as freshmen or sophomores, but both were utilized in the rotation as juniors, starting some games but playing meaningful roles in each game. Both saw an uptick in playing time as seniors, and with that, became leaders of a team lacking experience after graduating 20 starters from the year before.
Lowe was a first-team all-region selection with nearly 500 receiving yards and six touchdowns as a senior. Chaney was a second-team all-region selection, despite missing nearly half the season due to a shoulder injury.
“They both did a good job leading for us,” King said. “Isaiah had a really, really positive attitude even through his injury. He continued to lead and love up on the guys who had to fill in for him when he was hurt. Both of those guys did a great job for us in that capacity.”
King expects five more Canes to sign to play college football in February, and it’s a nice notch on the belt for the program to have Chaney joining former Cane JaCorey Johns along the defensive line at Wake Forest, both hoping to get a sack on former teammate Trevor Lawrence against Clemson in ACC play. Canes fans might even get to see Miller Forristall and Lowe in an all-Cartersville tight end matchup with Alabama and Tennessee.
King, who can now relinquish the coaching role and enjoy watching Chaney and Lowe on TV every Saturday, is proud to be able to see so many of his former players at the next level. It makes for a backlogged DVR on Saturdays, but he isn’t complaining.
And like so many of the former Canes, King expects big things from the two who signed Wednesday.
“I still don’t think either one of them have played their best football yet,” he said. “It’ll be fun to see them develop at the next