Copperas Cove sends five more student-athletes to college ranks

By TJ MAXWELL

Cove Leader-Press

 

The Copperas Cove athletic program celebrated five student-athletes signing to continue their academic and athletic pursuits during a ceremony held at the high school on Wednesday.

Lady Dawgs’ basketball player A’Zariah “AZ” Knotts signed to play basketball with the University of North Texas-Dallas Trailblazers and Bulldawgs’ tennis player Adrian Alejandro signed to play for Schreiner University in Kerrville. The Cove football program saw three players sign with Ayden Paquette heading to Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa to play for the Yelowjackets; Javaris Barnes heading to Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Oklahoma to play for the Aggies; and Brody Sanders will play for the Javelinas of Texas A&M-Kingsville.

Knotts, the 12-6A Defensive Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, was joined at the ceremony by her new head coach Rodney Belcher and her current coach Tiffney Barnes-Graham let him know what he was getting.

“You are inheriting an amazing player,” she said of Knotts. “We’ll be at many games to watch you.”

Coach Barnes-Graham said that grit is what got her here.

“Her desire is just amazing,” she said. “I haven’t seen that in a long while.”

Alejandro, a three-year varsity letterman, will bring a strong work ethic to the Mountaineers of Schreiner said his Copperas Cove tennis coach Chris Wiley.

“Adrian is honestly one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve ever coached,” Wiley said during the ceremony. “He would work tirelessly for hours on end just on one aspect of his game to make himself the best he can be.”

Sanders finished second on the team in rushing this season with 243 yards on 46 caries with two touchdowns for an average of 5.3 yards pr carry.

“Brody did a great job this year at running back,” said coach Hammett. “He’s super physical and he’s done all the things we’ve asked him to do. He’s a very intense young man and that’s going to make him successful in a lot of things he chooses to do.” 

Paquette spent time at tight end in previous years before finding his home along the defensive line in 2020 where he finished second on the team in tackles with 41 total and led the team in tackles for losses with 6.5 and sacks with 4.5.

“Ayden was one of the first kids I met moving to Copperas Cove,” said Hammett. He lives right around the corner from me and helped me move into my house. 

“He’s a great energy kid. I love everything he’s done for us and the attitude he’s put into everything. He’s a true Bulldawg in terms of heart and would do anything for his teammates.”

Cove newcomer Barnes made a big impact in a short time with the Bulldawgs. He didn’t rack up a ton of statistics but filled in some holes when needed.

“Javaris played tight end and defensive line for us this year,” said Hammett. “He came to us last summer. We’ve only got to know him for a short period of time, but I really have gotten to know him. He’s an incredibly enjoyable kid to be around. He’s always smiling and laughing. 

“He really got into a role for us this year and helped us out especially on the defensive line as the season went on. He’s figured out a lot of things on how to play ball.”

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