Valley Preps

Central establishes pipeline to Division 1 football, SEC

Central's Justyn Ross with a pass reception and carry for 8 yards against the Lee defenders Friday night at Garrett Harrison Stadium
Central's Justyn Ross with a pass reception and carry for 8 yards against the Lee defenders Friday night at Garrett Harrison Stadium

Central High School is a can’t-miss stop for power five football coaches recruiting in Alabama.

Coach Jamey DuBose’s arrival in Phenix City two years ago has translated into wins and scholarships. The former Prattville coach didn’t even need a full offseason to help turn the program into a perennial contender. The Red Devils have won 19 games the past two seasons including back-to-back regional titles.

In laying down his blueprint for success, DuBose and his coaching staff have elevated the talent level across the program.

Central sent one player, Traveon Samuel, to a power five school after DuBose’s first season.

Senior linebacker Markail Benton, who verbally committed to Alabama over Auburn and Florida State during a short ceremony last week at the school’s auditorium could be the first of three Red Devils headed to college football’s big time conferences out of the 2017 Class with even more on the way.

Senior defensive back Karon Delince has power five offers from Kentucky and Duke while running back Jaxton Carson has offers from Cincinnati, North Carolina and Purdue. Junior wide receiver Justyn Ross is one of the most talked about names in the 2018 class.

“I think we have eight or nine guys with (Division 1) offers with some from the SEC and others getting looks from smaller schools like Troy,” DuBose said. “We probably have three guys that are maybe an inch too short or a step too slow for the SEC. We will see how it all plays out, the SEC is a tough NFL-type business.”

It’s why DuBose is equally excited for players who receive offers from smaller schools.

“Once you get off to college it’s what you make of it,” DuBose said. “When the ball is kicked off no one is talking about what division it is.”

Last year, six of the 12 players on stage for national signing day signed Division 1 offers.

Auburn commit John Broussard and Mississippi State commit Jamal Couch headlined the talented class, but DuBose cautions his players against using the offers they receive as a measure of their talent.

“Everyone makes a big deal about SEC offers, but it’s not necessarily always about the best football player,” DuBose said. “It can be a numbers game of how big, fast and strong you are. If you are an offensive or defensive line that’s 6-foot-1 then you ain’t got a chance.”

DuBose points to a pair of former area standouts — Denver Broncos defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware and former New York Giants defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora — to prove his point.

“I don’t think either of them netted a single SEC offer when they were at Auburn High School,” DuBose said of the pro bowlers.

One of Central’s best players last season Walter Pritchett had a similar experience during the recruiting process. The linebacker ended up at Troy, but DuBose said the defender could have as good of a career as any of the Red Devils the team has sent to college in the last two years.

“Two inches that was the difference,” DuBose said. “No one told me he didn’t have the talent to play in the SEC. If he was 6-foot-4 he would be playing in the SEC, but that’s just how it goes.”

Pritchett followed DuBose’s advice and played everyday as it if it was a job interview.

It’s a message DuBose tells all his players and one that resonates given Central’s recent success landing players in college. The Red Devils might not wear suits and ties on Friday nights in the fall, but they might as well be with each game acting as another bullet point on their resumes.