Three members of the Class 5A state championship football team made it official Wednesday, signing to play down the road for Western Kentucky University.
Quarterback Caden Veltkamp, tight end/defensive lineman Jake Jackson and wide receiver Avrin Bell all made their college choices official during a signing ceremony at South Warren High School.
“This is really exciting,” Veltkamp said. “This is all I have ever dreamed of. I’ve always wanted to play for my dad (WKU football strength and conditioning coach Jason Veltkamp) deep down, so I am really excited about that part of it. More than that, I’m just excited to fulfill my dream to play college football.”
A three-year starter at QB, Veltkamp threw for 35 touchdowns last season to help lead South Warren to the third state title in program history and first since 2018. He said he is excited about the chance to play at the next level and stay in Bowling Green.
“I’ve really grown to love this city a lot, especially after what happened this weekend,” Veltkamp said. “The community has really rallied together. That is something you want to be a part of. It’s really not like that everywhere.”
Veltkamp also announced Wednesday that he will graduate early and start classes at WKU in January.
“This is (Bailey) Zappe’s last year of eligibility, so I am going to go in there and try to compete for a starting job,” Veltkamp said. “That will be really hard as a freshman. I’m just going to have to put my head down and get to work.”
For Jackson, WKU is a chance to reunite with his brother Colt Jackson, a freshman offensive lineman for the Hilltoppers.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football,” Jackson said. “Ever since my brother committed to Western, I knew that was where I wanted to go. Once I got the offer from coach Helton, I had to do it.”
Jackson finished third on the Spartans in tackles and led South Warren with 12 sacks.
While he is excited about playing with his brother, he is also excited about playing with Veltkamp and Bell.
“I can’t wait, especially with Caden and Avrin, to keep doing it (at WKU),” Jackson said.
Bell led the Spartans in receptions last season and added 22 tackles on defense. He said Helton has indicated he will be used as an inside receiver at Western.
“It’s an absolute honor to play for coach Helton,” Bell said. “I’ve been going to their games since I was a freshman. When I went to the Hilltopper hangout, (Caden) was the one who told me to go – see the campus and facility. It basically brought me here.
“To finish out my career winning state and now signing with WKU, it feels great.”
Here’s a look at the other players WKU announced had signed with the program Wednesday:
- Wyatt Anderson; offensive lineman, The Heritage School (Ga.)
- Anthony Brackenridge; linebacker; Sandalwood High School (Fla.)
- Amaari Smith; cornerback; MTI Preparatory (Fla.)
- Upton Stout; defensive back; North Shore High School (Texas)/North Texas
- Marcus Patterson; defensive end; Crestview High School (Fla.)
- Turner Helton; quarterback; Palos Verdes High School (Calif.)
- Kylan Guidry; defensive end; Northwest High School (Ala.)/Kilgore College
- Evan Wibberley; offensive lineman; Dixie Heights High School (Ky.)
- Desmyn Baker; linebacker; Clinton High School (Miss.)/Rice
- Luke Slusher; offensive lineman; Beechwood High School (Ky.)
- Keaton Law; defensive lineman; Saraland High School (Ala.)
- Tom Ellard; punter; Prokick Australia