Dominant force All-State DL Michael Towner signs with North Alabama

Michael Towner ended weeks of speculation about where he would play college football Wednesday when he signed with the University of North Alabama.

Towner, who was a first-team All-State selection in 2021 and 2022, had 94 tackles (18 for losses) as a senior, as well as 15.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

The 2021 4A Lineman of the Year chose North Alabama after considering several other college and JUCO offers. Sometime in the fall he was committed to the UAB.

Five other Vigor players also signed scholarships along with Towner.

They were Arenza Davis (Alabama A&M), safety Jermaine Holcombe (Alcorn State), long snapper Bryce Midell (Lane College), and offensive lineman Marcus Hunt and defensive lineman/kicker/punter Reginald Powe (both with Oklahoma Panhandle State).

Towner said two Vigor alumni on the UNA coaching staff led to his decision to sign there. Other schools on Towner’s radar were South Alabama and Memphis

“They have two Vigor grads (Deshaun Davis) and trainer (Brent) Dearmon,” he said. “I felt like they would put me in the right place and help me be a good person at life and great at football, so I just chose North Alabama. I’ve had a lot of offers, but I thought North Alabama would be a good connection for me.”

Towner said he would still be a defender, primarily as an edge rusher.

He said playing other positions, particularly quarterback and running back on offense, has helped him on the defensive side of the ball.

“It made me faster on the D-line, and with more footwork, it becomes harder for linemen to block me,” he said. “It worked well.”

Davis, a defensive end who had 72 tackles, 10 sacks and 11 tackles for losses, said it was very exciting to be a part of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) after experiencing a slow recruitment process. He is expected to be a defensive end/linebacker for the Bulldogs.

“In the beginning, the recruitment process was a bit slow,” he said. “But Alabama A&M came in, and after they came in, I had offers from ASU[Alabama State]and Troy. I wanted to choose a place close to my family and A&M was the place to be. I love it – the band, the school, and I had that in high school. Going to college will be nice.”

Holcombe, who was a second All-State team in 2022, had 61 tackles, five interceptions, three fumble recoveries, 14 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He signed early but attended National Signing Day so more of his family members could attend. He said he was ready to get to work. He also looks forward to being involved in the SWAC tradition.

“I want to do the job,” he says. “Being in a SWAC atmosphere is very exciting, very action packed and outstanding. The coaches, the players, it felt like power and it felt tight.

Hunt scored 85 percent blocking, had 29 pancake blocks, and 30 knockdowns. Powe had 49 tackles – five for losses – along with a forced fumble and four sacks. He was 13 of 17 in extra points and averaging 37.4 yards per punt.

Midell, who has had just one bad snap in four years as a long snapper for Wolves, has been called an underrated player by head coach Markus Cook. Midell said the appeal of Lane’s campus is a selling point.

“It’s quiet and I can focus on my education,” he said of the Division II school. “I’ll make sure my snaps are perfect; I’m going to go out there and prove to everyone that I belong out there.”