BOONEVILLE • The Northeast Mississippi Community College golf program is welcoming home three incredibly talented local athletes to put a bow on its latest recruiting class.
Prentiss County natives Tate Dickerson, Garrett Gray and Austin Lauderdale have all signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to join the Tigers during the 2020-21 campaign.
They join Water Valley’s Taylor Dean, who finished in the top 10 at the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 3A state tournament as a junior, as Northeast’s newest linksters.
“It’s very huge to get all three of these local kids,” said Tigers headman Derek DeVaughn. “They’re very excited. I know they’ll make a big impact when they get here.
“Tate is very close to being a big time player. He has D-I experience already and I think if he wants to he can go back to that level. It’s also great to have both Austin and Garrett. They’ll help lead the way going into next year.”
The trio played at the collegiate level during the 2019-20 academic year. Dickerson originally inked with Austin Peay State (Tenn.) University while both Gray and Lauderdale were at Meridian Community College.
Dickerson headlines the phenomenal group of newcomers as a five-time MHSAA Class 3A team champion and a two-time individual state title winner at Booneville High School.
He was rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in the Magnolia State by JuniorGolfScoreboard.com following his senior campaign. Dickerson was also recognized as the 2019 Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Golfer of the Year.
Dickerson wrapped up his prep career by posting a two-day total of 135, including a seven-under-par 64 in his final round, to secure MHSAA Class 3A medalist honors at Corinth’s Hillandale Golf Course.
He was selected to the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) All-Newcomer team at Austin Peay State. Dickerson’s average of 73.3 shots per round was second in the league among freshmen competitors.
Dickerson opened his lone campaign with the Governors with a top 15 showing at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Sam Hall Intercollegiate. He had a season-best eighth place result at the F&M Bank APSU Intercollegiate with a three-day score of 212.
Gray is well decorated as well after helping Baldwyn High School capture three consecutive MHSAA state titles. He was the Bearcats’ low scorer during each of those championship events.
He was very consistent during his state championship appearances. Gray tallied a 160 at Grenada’s Dogwood Golf Course in 2017 and followed that with a 159 in 2018 at Philadelphia’s Dancing Rabbit Golf Club and a 163 as a senior at the historic Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point.
Gray recorded a season-low of 161 last fall at Meridian during the first Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) tour stop, which was hosted by Hinds Community College.
Lauderdale shared the spotlight with Dickerson during Booneville’s sensational five-year run of collecting state titles. He placed third in the 2019 MHSAA Class 3A Tournament at 75-75—150 and had the Blue Devils’ lowest mark at the same competition one year earlier.
He was one of the top 25 golfers in the state while at Meridian with only one round above 80 during the abbreviated season. Lauderdale registered a 154 during the second MACJC event at River Birch Golf Club in Amory.
Lauderdale is the son of Craig Lauderdale, who was Northeast’s inaugural National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) All-American in the sport of golf in 1990 and later served as head coach at his alma mater from 2004-11.
The Tigers successfully returned from a two-year hiatus and were ranked No. 15 in the final Golfstat rankings for NJCAA Division II members. Northeast boasted three of the top 65 golfers in the country as well.