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In this file photo, former Ridgeland High School cornerback Devin Bowman.
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Staff Photo by Tim Barber
Mark Mariakis, Ridgeland head coach.

Ridgeland High School started football practice Monday morning, and Panthers coach Mark Mariakis then made a phone call he's wanted to make for months.

Shortly after lunchtime, Ridgeland's guidance department received an email informing the school that former student-athlete Devin Bowman had passed the English language arts portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Bowman signed a football scholarship in February with the University of Georgia, but that part of the GHSGT had kept him from going to Athens with the other signees.

"I got to tell him and his mama, and obviously they were elated about it," Mariakis said. "They're excited, and they ought to be after getting past all those hurdles. He's ready to start his college career."

The 6-foot, 175-pounder took the test for a third time last month, and a failing score would have resulted in a detour to Georgia Military College. Bowman never had trouble in English at Ridgeland, according to Mariakis, and he would have graduated last December and enrolled early at Georgia if not for the one sticking point.

Bowman said he was thrilled with the news but was pressed to get ready. Bulldogs players are scheduled to report by this evening at 7, and they are scheduled to practice for the first time Thursday.

"Georgia called me Friday and said they had his room ready and his classes ready," Mariakis said. "They were just waiting on the test score."

Bulldogs defensive tackle signee Chris Mayes failed to qualify and is at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, while linebacker Kent Turene has not made it through the NCAA Clearinghouse and cannot report until he does.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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