By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Jara Dowell Jr. has spent his life living up to his name, establishing his own identity and being a name you can depend on.
Obviously being a junior, Jara had a direct role model with his father Jara Sr. Raised under the faith and education bases of his parents Jara and Patricia, Jara Jr. became the leader among his siblings J’Nya and Jaelon.
The family joined Jara Jr. April 28 on the campus of Munford High School for his signing ceremony to play football at Campbellsville University.
Dowell will be heading up to Kentucky with high school teammates Kelton Mason, Jacoby Miguel and Traveon Hawkins. The Tigers play in the NAIA under the guidance of Head Coach Perry Thomas in the Mid-South Conference.
Thomas was hot after the Munford quartet and desired Dowell on his roster because of his intelligent play in the secondary and leadership ability off the field.
“It’s just a crazy feeling to continue to the next level with the people I started with,” Dowell said. “I was a Brighton Cardinal starting off. Then I transferred over here as a freshman and got to know them.
“I was nervous my first day here,” he added. “I won them over and it was like a warm feeling once I walked through those doors. Everybody wanted to be there for you. And playing football I was around them every day and we just got to know each other. Now we’re super cool.”
Junior made a name for himself quickly at Munford. Like his dad, Jara was going to make football a part of his high school experience. Unlike Jara Sr., the younger Dowell was roaming in the secondary.
The elder Dowell played at Brighton and graduated in 2001 as a standout defensive end.
“I just wanted to be better than him on the defensive side,” Jara Jr. said. “He already knows I am faster. I got more athleticism. But I just tried to be better than him.”
Jara Sr. said his son put in the work on the field but it was his achievements in the classroom that earned him a spot at Campbellsville.
“I am proud of him because he has worked hard,” Senior said. “Not just for football but academically its going to be a major step for him heading in that direction. I just can’t wait to see what he’s going to do.
“It makes me feel good because that was his whole thing to make sure he could go to school and not be in so much debt,” he added. “Not being noticed in the pandemic for football, he got noticed for his academics as well. It’s security because he’s smart. He’s not just going to be out there playing ball. He’s going to be busy in that classroom.”
Munford Head Coach Slade Calhoun said he wishes he could keep a player like Jara Dowell Jr. on his roster until he retires.
“Jara was a kid with a ton of options,” he noted. “I think he’s one of those kids that’s so good at so many things he had a hard time deciding what he wanted to do. He had good grades, good ACT score. He got accepted into a few places. I think he was just trying to make his mind up if he wanted to play ball or not. Ultimately I think he just wanted to go with his friends.”
Dowell was a three-year starter at Munford and during the season he battled a dislocated shoulder. He never missed a practice, coached up the younger safeties and came back to the field with a special brace.
That desire to share the field with his best friends in the Cougar uniform came to fruition. Now Dowell will have a chance to play alongside three of his teammates at the next level.
“I wanted to be with them honestly,” he said. “And it was kind of a last-second thing because I started late on the recruiting trail and the whole process. They had offered me and I made my mind up.
Jara Sr. said his son has validated the family’s name, carved his own legacy in Tipton County and will continue to be reliable with Miguel, Mason and Hawkins.
“He got a lot of support,” the proud father concluded. “Not just his friends but his best friends, they’ve played ball the last four years. He came in from a different school and they accepted him. He came from Brighton and moved over here to Munford not knowing anybody. He was able to fit in athletically and academically. And it had a lot with him just being a good person.”