Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment in a six-part series of stories on DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame scholarship winners. The organization awarded six $1,000 scholarships to DeKalb County senior student-athletes. The six seniors will be honored during the induction ceremony of the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame’s 2020 class at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 at DeKalb County Schools Coliseum in Rainsville. In Part 6, The Times-Journal features Valley Head’s Ian Blair.
VALLEY HEAD — Ian Blair became the first player in Heath Vincent’s coaching two-year tenure at Valley Head to sign a college scholarship.
“I was extremely happy for Ian to continue to play at the next level,” Vincent said. “He’s always been able to play multiple sports and maintain a strong GPA in the process.”
Blair committed to Shorter University in February and becomes the first Valley Head football player to sign with a college since Christian Henry signed with Jamestown College (N.D.) in 2012.
“(Shorter) is really close to home and I’ve had great talks with the coaches,” Blair said. “They seem like really genuine people.
“It just felt like home.”
Shorter is a Division II school in Rome, Ga. The Hawks’ play in the tough Gulf South Conference that includes 2018 national champion Valdosta State.
Since joining the NCAA’s Division II as a provisional member in 2013, the football team has struggled, winning just eight games since its inaugural DII season. They went 0-11 for three seasons (2016-18).
Blair signed under second-year head coach Zach Morrison, who looks to turn the program into a winner. Blair will play wide receiver for the Hawks.
Blair said his meetings with Morrison were positive.
“It was really cool because we didn’t talk much about football,” he said. “We just talked about life. We talked about family, how school was going and everything.”
Blair visited the university multiple times, with his first visit taking place on a game day last season.
“I toured the campus, watched a game, walked on the field, met some of the players,” Blair said.
Blair played tight end in Valley Head’s formation and was a part of the football program’s leadership council.
“(Blair) improved a lot between his junior and senior seasons,” Vincent said. “He showed a lot of leadership for us as a senior.”
Blair helped the Tigers make a postseason appearance last season. They closed their season with a loss to Hackleburg on Nov. 8, 2019, going 6-5 overall and 4-2 in region play.
Having played football since age 5, Blair said it’s always been his favorite sport, by far. His love for sports played a big role in how he’s planning his future. He’ll be studying sports management at Shorter.
“I’ve always been interested in sports and I thought it would be best to make a career out of something like that,” Blair said.