Producing elite football talent is nothing new to the Bi-City. For years, Columbus, Phenix City and their surrounding areas have sent players on to schools like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida and Tennessee. The list could go on.
Some years are busier than others, though, in 2016 could prove to be one of those classes.
Already, six players have committed to sign with large FCS programs. Central has two, John Broussard and Jamal Couch, who are committed to Auburn and Florida State, respectively.
Carver’s Javontay Smith has been committed to North Carolina for months, Smiths Station’s Vada King to Southern Miss, and, recently, Columbus’ Essang Bassey to Wake Forest and Jordan’s Markus Wright to California.
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But that’s just the tip of what could be an extremely busy signing day in February, with the potential of up to 15 or more players signing FCS scholarships.
Uncommitted players include Carver’s T.J. London, who was briefly committed to Louisville before reopening his recruitment. The big defensive tackle also has offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State and N.C. State and is considered a three-star prospect by Rivals.
Central has three other players for the 2016 class that claim offers from FCS schools but remain uncommitted. They are wide receiver Quan Weaver, linebackers Walter Pritchett and Toron Morten. Weaver is listed as a two-star recruit and has offers from Memphis, South Alabama and Mississippi State. Pritchett, also a two-star, claims offers from Air Force, Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Navy, South Alabama and Troy, among others. While Morton is not awarded any stars on Rivals, he does sport offers from Alabama State, Alcorn State and Alabama A&M.
Shaw High’s Austin Hester is the team’s biggest recruit with offers from Cincinnati and East Carolina, but teammate Cam Paulding, who has played just one season of organized football, is beginning to get major college attention, according to coach Chuck Stamey. He is yet to receive his first offer, but at 6-foot-5 and athletic, he offers plenty of potential as a tight end or receiver at the next level.
After having its first FCS signee in eight years last February (Chris Rehak, Western Kentucky), Pacelli has the potential of sending at least two more on in 2016. DeAndre Bowman and Mikal Marble both have offers and are working to increase their exposure in their senior seasons.
The most notable uncommitted name for the Class of 2016 remains the most notable player in the area period. Carver’s Jawon Pass has long been considered one of the nation’s most elite passers, even garnering college attention before his first start under center as a sophomore two seasons ago.
Rivals has him listed as a high four-star prospect. Other recruiting outlets list him as a five-star and the very best dual-threat quarterback in the country. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, he has been compared to former Auburn and current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
And for a long time, it was assumed he would end up with the Tigers as well. But his brother, Khane Pass, signed with Louisville last season, and four-star quarterback prospect Woody Barrett has already committed to Auburn.
Pass, who has offers from virtually every top program in the country, said he will announce his decision on July 16, deciding between Alabama, Auburn, Louisiville, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Over the next few weeks, the Ledger-Enquirer will be speaking with these recruits, and more, about their respective experiences in recruiting, their plans for the upcoming season and where they’d like to improve heading into college.