LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The night before National Signing Day, Arkansas commit J.T. Towers sat in his living room next to his brother, Ty.
"I just remember kind of just sitting in the car and it was almost like it wasn't real," he said, adding, "I just kept thinking that maybe I was going to wake up and it wasn't going to be real."
It's what you'd expect to hear from a recruit less than 24 hours before signing his National Letter of Intent, recounting their reaction to being offered a scholarship by their dream school.
Except, for the Robinson linebacker, it's what he remembers about sitting in the passenger seat of his family's smashed SUV on March 6, 2017.
"We were driving down Interstate 30 going east towards Little Rock," said Towers, who had been at baseball practice earlier that day and just been picked up from a friends house. "There was a big trucked parked on the side of the road and it started rolling backwards and it T-boned us."
Towers' list of injuries was extensive. Seventy-five stitches above his right eye to close a gaping wound in his forehead. A lacerated tendon in his right hand. A torn rotator cuff and labrum in the same shoulder. Three broken vertebrae and a broken rib that punctured a hole in his lung.
His brother Ty remembers getting the call. "They told me they had to use the jaws of life to get him out," he said. "That's when I originally thought he wasn't going to make it. I just kept thinking that I couldn't lose another little brother."
The brother he's talking about is the Towers' middle son, Zach, who died on February 19, 2014. Just 15-months after suffering a brain injury during a game for Star City.
J.T., in fifth grade at the time, was at the game.
"I was standing there when they put him in the ambulance," he said. "I don't think any of us thought it was as serious as it was."
Nearly six years to the day of Zach's death, J.T. signed his National Letter of Intent to play football at the University of Arkansas. Less than two years after the accident that cost him a year of high school football and nearly took away his collegiate career.
"There wasn't a time where I thought I wasn't going to be able to play again," said Towers. "If they would've told me that I wouldn't have taken that to heart. I would've done everything I could've to get back on the field."
J.T. has two tattoos in tribute to Zach, one on each forearm. So when he signed his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 5, 2020 his entire family, including both brothers, were there to celebrate with him.