Grundy football’s Misiolek signs with Cumberland University | Local Sports

Supporting Misiolek (center) during his signing are from left in back, his former coach Tracy Hayworth, Assistant Coaches Colby Newsome and Derek Moon, Head Coach Nick Bryant, and GCHS Principal Paul Conry. In front are his parents, Bob and Shanda Misiolek.

Grundy County’s Dawson Misiolek inked with Cumberland University football last Wednesday during a signing ceremony at Grundy County High School.

Family, friends, coaches and administrators gathered inside the school’s library to watch the Yellow Jacket put his name on the dotted line for the Phoenix.

“I’m super excited,” Misiolek said. “Cumberland really recruited me hard, which I am very proud of. I really respect them, and I am hoping I can do my best there. I can’t wait to get started.”

The 6-foot-4 defensive lineman lettered four years at GCHS and led the Jackets in nearly every defensive category during his senior campaign. Misiolek paced the team with 106 total tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss tied for the team lead with 2.0 sacks. His 65 solo tackles were the most on the squad by 15, and he forced a team-high four fumbles.

Misiolek was unanimously elected to the All-Region 4-AAA First Team by the league’s head coaches in 2021. Prior to his senior season, he was named to the Lakeway Publishers All-Area Defensive Team in 2020.

Misiolek is the second Yellow Jacket to sign with Cumberland University this season. Fellow lineman Matt Borne signed with the Phoenix last month.

Three Grundy County natives are set to appear on the CU roster when the 2023 college football season rolls around. Along with Misiolek and Borne, Brayden Sanders, who prepped at South Pittsburg High School, will be a sophomore with the Phoenix next year.

“It’s nice to be joining a couple of guys I know,” Misiolek said. “Brayden being a year ahead will give me the opportunity to learn some things from him, and I am hoping to room with Matt.”

Misiolek’s signing comes a month after college football’s National Signing Day. The senior had a number of options to weigh, but ultimately decided on Cumberland following a busy recruitment period.

“Cumberland was the program that tried the most to get me,” Misiolek said. “With scholarships and everything, that really helped me make my decision. Chattanooga and East Tennessee showed interest, and there were a few smaller schools throughout, but Cumberland really stood out.

“I think the campus at Cumberland is amazing. It’s not too big, not too small and is close to home. The atmosphere is great, the people there are very nice and their facilities are top-notch.”

The Grundy standout began his high school football career in 2018 under then-head coach Tracy Hayworth. Misiolek played three years for the former Tennessee linebacker before wrapping up his tenure with Nick Bryant as head coach.

“My coaches were amazing,” Misiolek said. “Both Coach Bryant and Coach Hayworth called me daily leading up to my signing day. They would always tell me how proud they were and ask how decision making was going. They helped out a ton. At one point, I was considering not even going to college. But they helped me stick with it and talked me through the process.

“And I have to give a lot of credit to the assistant coaches, my dad and Dino Meeks, which is Gunner’s dad, for really helping me get to where I am now in my football career.

In Bryant’s first season back at the helm in Coalmont, Misiolek helped lead the Yellow Jackets to their second consecutive postseason appearance since 2013 and 2014. Despite playing the fifth-hardest schedule in Class AAA, including six games against opponents ranked in the top 25, GCHS gutted out a pair of wins during the regular season.

“Dawson was crucial to this team for many years, and his family put a lot of time and effort into making this program better,” Bryant said. “It’s amazing to see him get the chance to further his education and playing career. He’s going to make one heck of a player for Cumberland. I am proud for him and his family to have this opportunity.”

During Misiolek’s junior year, Hayworth’s final season at Grundy, the Yellow Jackets won two games to earn a trip to the TSSAA playoffs for the first time in six years. Hayworth, who now serves as an assistant coach at Franklin County, continued to stay in contact with Misiolek after his departure.

“I am extremely happy for Dawson,” Hayworth said. “I knew he would have a chance to play at the next level. I think it is well deserved. He is a tremendous young man, ambitious and a great athlete. He was great to coach. He is a hard worker and is the kind of player you can rely on. He has a bright future ahead of him.”

Misiolek is scheduled to report to campus July 27 for the start of fall camp. Until then, the senior is working to stay in shape while holding down a full-time job.

“I have been working out when I can,” Misiolek said. “I’ve been working 40 to 50 hours a week and taking college classes, so I’ve been pretty busy. I’m trying to make some money so I’ll be ready when the fall semester begins.”

Cumberland University competes in the NAIA’s Mid-South Conference. Last season, the Phoenix finished 3-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The fall featured an impressive 14-10 win over No. 21 University of the Cumberlands.

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