Dakota Little stands tall at 6 feet 7 inches and 317 pounds, so it may come as Dakota wonder that he identifies as a football player first.
But he’s also not your typical jock. Dakota is as much brains as brawn.
The 2018 graduate of Flowery Branch High School contends he is “more with the geeks than jocks, if you want to put it into classic cliques like that.”
Dakota started every game on the offensive line for the varsity football team last year, and he’s received a full ride scholarship to play ball at Eastern Kentucky University this fall.
But at Eastern Kentucky, Dakota plans to study physics before later pursuing a doctorate. Ultimately, he wants to be a professor.
“I’ve always liked teaching and helping people out,” Dakota said.
And Dakota has a natural talent for creative writing, something he only discovered his junior year after dabbling in other artistic courses like painting and drawing.
“It was something new,” he said. “I wanted to try it.”
With prodding and mentorship from his teacher, Bridget Rodriguez, Dakota entered a nonfiction story into a statewide contest sponsored by Columbus State University. He placed third.
The story, about his chaotic upbringing in a divorced household, is full of sarcasm, Dakota said, a way to “think deep about some stuff instead of just getting angry about them.”
“I need a creative outlet,” he said. “That’s me dealing with stress.”
He’s also been recognized for his exceptional poetry.
Of course, Dakota retains dreams of playing in the National Football League.
“What athlete doesn’t want to play at the highest level?” he asked.
Whatever direction college and work take him, Dakota said he will apply many of the lessons he’s learned on the field to his off-the-field life.
“This year it was all about the teamwork,” he said, crediting the coaching staff and senior leadership for a successful season.
Dakota said his teammates were like brothers. Together, they would hold players-only meetings, dinners the night before every game and visits with the chaplain.
They were like a family that gave him “much needed stability that I didn’t have,” Dakota said.
He will join a new team, with new people in a new place very soon, and Dakota said he knows moving forward will have its challenges.
“It’ll be different for sure,” he added.
But Dakota seems ready.
“I think I’ll have some fun up there,” he said.