Tatum Oliver Signs to Play Football for Bethel University
BY DAVID FISHER
Dresden High School football standout, Tatum Oliver, who played for the Dresden Lions all four years, signed to play football for the Bethel Wildcats, during a ceremony in the DHS library Monday afternoon.
As the event got underway, the library was packed with coaches, school officials, members of the Dresden Quarterback Club, fellow teammates, family and friends.
Tatum, a senior, sat at a table which displayed his helmet and #1 jersey, with his mom and dad seated by his side, and his coaches standing behind him.
Dresden High School head football coach Keith Hodge, said, “Congratulations to Tatum and his family. This is a big step. This is a big step in his life, and their lives also.
He’s represented this high school very well for a lot of years, in all three sports.
“This is a big day for our school. Anytime we can have student athletes that sign on and go on to play college ball, that’s special. It’s hard to do.
“It all means a lot to us, the community, the coaching staff, and the players that have been around him the past four years, especially to these seniors. I know he is special to them also.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, and he understands that. But, we know the kind of person he is, and that he’ll be very successful in anything he does, just because of who he is, and who his family is.”
Following the signing ceremony, Tatum told the Enterprise, “I’m thankful that I have this opportunity, and that I’ve had people around me that helped me get here. I’m thankful for all of the coaches I’ve had from Pee-Wee to middle school and all the way through high school.”
When asked how he has become so successful, Tatum said, “Good teamwork, and we all worked hard.” He also thanked God for his success.
Coach Hodge said, “Tatum’s a special kid, and a special football player. He does things the right way. He’s always been successful in everything he’s done academically and in sports, which he’s played his whole life.”
“I don’t see any changes when he gets to college. He’ll work hard and compete. He’ll do everything he can to help Bethel be successful. He’s going to commit to that and do everything the right way.
“We hate to see him go. He’s been a four-year starter in every sport here at Dresden.
“I think one of the greatest things about him is the impact he’s had on the guys he played with. He’s a great team leader. He’s led on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom.
“He’s played middle linebacker and quarterback for us,” Coach Hodges said. “He was a four-year starter quarterback. In basketball, he plays down by the post. And in baseball, he pitches and catches. He was a dual threat quarterback. As captain of the football team, he gets everybody lined up for defense. He led the team in tackles. He’d turn around and play 50 snaps a game on offense. He did everything we asked of him and did it well.
“The Lions ended the season with nine wins and three losses. We lost the second round to Fayetteville, and we were second in the district.
“We’re well pleased with him and know his family is proud of him. He’ll do a lot of good things; there’s no doubt about it,” Coach Hodges said.
Dustin Kinkaid, special teams coordinator, and linebackers coach, for the Bethel Wildcats football team, said, “I’ve been recruiting Dresden for three or four years now, and Coach Hodge told me about Tatum when he was a freshman. So, he’s been on my radar for a while now.”
Coach Kinkaid stated there were several other schools that attempted to recruit Tatum and he feels fortunate that Bethel managed to sign him to play for the Wildcats.
“He’s going to be a great edition. He’s going to add character and academics off the field, and he’s going to add a lot of talent on the field. We’re excited about that,” Coach Kinkaid said.
Among Tatum’s many honors was being named to the Division 1, Class 1A, Coaches All State Team; and for being chosen First Team All-Region Defensive Player of the Year.
As a junior, he received the First Captain Award for the leadership qualities he demonstrated in the hallways and on the field with his hard work, and for being very coachable.
The Dresden Quarterback Club posted the following statement on its website: “It’s a big day for senior, Tatum Oliver. He signed today to play football for the Bethel Wildcats.
“The Dresden Quarterback Club and football family congratulate Tatum and his family on this accomplishment.
“We are happy for you Tatum and wish you well.”