provided by John Phillips
Mossy Oak has some of the most elite bass fishermen in the world on its ProStaff, and the company also sponsors the now second-highest ranked collegiate bass team in the nation from the University of Montevallo.The main focus of teams, like the University of Montevallo’s, is to train young people how to move into the highest levels of pro angling.
With the help of Mossy Oak’s sponsorship, the University of Montevallo Bass Fishing Team brought home the second-place title in the collegiate bass-fishing world. According to William Crawford, director of the Outdoor Scholars Program, “The Montevallo bass-fishing team started in 2012 with only 12 anglers. Today we have 38 scholarshiped collegiate bass fishermen and award a total of 80 scholarships in our Outdoor Scholars program. This program helps young people prepare for careers in the outdoor industry.”
This year Montevallo’s bass-fishing team placed second in the 2020 Bass Pro Shops School of the Year Presented by Abu Garcia on the Boat US Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. The competitors in this championship had to be the highest-ranking collegiate anglers in the nation; students earned their rankings throughout the year by competing on the Boat US Circuit.
“When Montevallo started its Outdoor Scholars Program, we were one of the first 10 schools in the nation to offer college scholarships to young people interested in careers in the outdoors,” Crawford explains. “Today, there are more than 38 colleges and universities across the nation that offer scholarships for high-school students to attend colleges. One of the most well-defined areas of interest and opportunities is in the world of bass fishing.”
The collegiate bass programs are feeding more young people into the ranks of Bassmasters’ Elite Series and other professional bass-fishing organizations. The Montevallo bass-fishing team this year includes six, high school All-American bass anglers. Each year, only 12 high school students are chosen as all-American bass fishermen out of thousands of participants.
At the first of June, Montevallo took five of their top anglers to the Boat US Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship sponsored by Lucas Oil. By the end of the competition, all five of their athletes were in the top-25 anglers out of 210 boats, which ranked Montevallo as the runner-up for the National Championship title.
“Our success on all three collegiate bass fishing circuits that we fish has helped us tremendously to attract some of the best high school bass anglers in the nation,” Crawford reports. “These young people who fish in the high school bass programs keep up with how colleges and universities place in competitions, and they also rank high in their academic careers and community involvement while in high school. Many of these students want to continue as competitive anglers and receive scholarships from some of the best and highest-ranking universities and colleges represented on the collegiate bass-fishing circuits. Just like a high school football player hopes to get a scholarship from a major university to play on its team, these young people want to be affiliated with some of the best college and universities for bass fishing.”
The Montevallo team is close knit, and team member Adam Carroll explains, “Our team chemistry is great and we feed off each other. We love to see each other succeed.”
When asked how and why does the University of Montevallo partner with Mossy Oak, get to wear Mossy Oak’s Elements Agua camouflage and has Mossy Oak’s name on jerseys for everyone to see, Crawford explains:
“First and foremost, Mossy Oak is extremely proud of our university’s fishing team and the success it’s been having in collegiate fishing. Furthermore, we feel that being a part of Mossy Oak, one of the leading outdoor brands in the nation, gives our team credibility in the outdoor industry. Also, Mossy Oak’s financial commitment to our team helps pay for expenses involved to take our athletes to fish on three different tournament circuits, including transportation, food, housing and other expenses, while the University of Montevallo and private donors sponsor the scholarships for our athletes. The success of our program has helped carry the Mossy Oak name and brand all over the nation and is now recognized by high school and college students as a supporter of young people interested in careers in the outdoor industry. The young people who come through our programs and the programs of other institutions, I believe, will one day be the leaders of the outdoor industry.”