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How many local high school alums will be playing college football this season?
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PREP FOOTBALL | LOCAL LEGENDS

How many local high school alums will be playing college football this season?

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MAIN ART Kentucky Florida Football (copy)

After intercepting a pass, Florida linebacker Mohamoud Diabate (11) dives for extra yardage over Kentucky tight end Keaton Upshaw during the second half of a game on Nov. 28, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.

The East Alabama football scene has traditionally been a launching pad for promising football players on their way from high school to the collegiate level. That standard of excellence remains the same now, and it’s clear by the amount of local alums playing at the next level.

Forty local alums are on FBS rosters and 24 are on FCS rosters entering the 2021 football season. There are several notable players among that group, including Central-Phenix City alum Justyn Ross at Clemson; Auburn High alum Mohamoud Diabate at Florida; and Opelika alum Jaylen Stinson at Duke.

The offseason led to a few notable moves among local products. The players on new teams include Central wide receiver Jackson Meeks at Georgia, Opelika quarterback Jake Bentley transferring from Utah to South Alabama, and Smiths Station cornerback Caleb Coleman at West Virginia.

Former Opelika football player and Duke offensive lineman Rakavius Chambers details what football has taught him as he steps away from the game in order to pursue his dream of being a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Here’s a full rundown of all the local players playing at the FBS or FCS level and a look at their first games of the season. Please note all times listed are Central Standard Time (CT).

Auburn High

Avery Atkins, LSU — Atkins and the Tigers start the season at UCLA at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cort Bradley, Auburn — Bradley and the Tigers start the season versus Akron at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Matthew Caldwell, Jacksonville State — Caldwell and the Gamecocks start the season versus UAB in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Cally Chizik, Furman — Chizik and the Paladins start the season versus North Carolina A&T at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Brandon Crum, South Alabama — Crum and the Jaguars start the season versus Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Mohamoud Diabate, Florida — Diabate and the Gators start the season versus Florida Atlantic at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Aaron Diggs, Coastal Carolina — Diggs and the Chanticleers start the season versus The Citadel at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Trey Elston, Auburn — Elston  and the Tigers start the season versus Akron at 6 p.m. Saturday.

David Hixon, Navy — Hixon and the Midshipmen start the season versus Marshall at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Anthony Imperio, Eastern Illinois — Imperio and the Panthers play their next game at South Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Joey McGinty, Auburn — McGinty and the Tigers start the season versus Akron at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Garrett Morris, Penn — Morris and the Quakers start the season at Bucknell on Sept. 18.

Tommy Nesmith, Auburn — Nesmith and the Tigers start the season versus Akron at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Omari Porter, Stanford — Porter and the Cardinal start the season versus Kansas State in Arlington, Texas’ AT&T Stadium at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Matthew Rhodes, Army — Rhodes and the Black Knights start the season at Georgia State at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Griffin Speaks, Baylor — Speaks and the Bears start the season at Texas State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Central

Xavier Billingsley, Alabama A&M — Billingsley and the Bulldogs start the season versus South Carolina State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Markail Benton, Jacksonville State — Benton and the Gamecocks start the season versus UAB in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Jaxton Carson, North Alabama — Carson and the Lions start the season versus Southeastern Louisiana at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Javion Cohen, Alabama — Cohen and the Crimson Tide start the season versus Miami (FL) in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Mason Cook, Georgia State — Cook and the Panthers start the season versus Army at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Karon Delince, ETSU — Delince and the Buccaneers start the season at Vanderbilt at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Terrell Gordon, Georgia State — Gordon and the Panthers start the season versus Army at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Mike Harris, Baylor — Harris and the Bears start the season at Texas State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Joshua Jones, Kentucky — Jones and the Wildcats start the season versus UL-Monroe at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Robert Marsh III, Troy — Marsh and the Trojans start the season versus Southern at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Jackson Meeks, Georgia — Meeks and the Bulldogs start the season versus Clemson in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tucker Melton, Bowling Green — Melton and the Falcons start the season at Tennessee at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Joseph McKay, East Carolina — McKay and the Pirates start the season at Appalachian State at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tyler Moore, Kennesaw State — Moore and the Owls start the season versus Reinhardt at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Peter Parrish, Memphis — Parrish and the Tigers start the season versus Nicholls State at 6 p.m. Saturday.

PJ Ramsey, Air Force — Ramsey and the Falcons start the season versus Lafayette at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Justyn Ross, Clemson — Ross and the Tigers start the season versus Georgia in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jahlil Ryles, MTSU — Ryles and the Blue Raiders start the season versus Monmouth at 6 p.m. Saturday

Ray Thornton, Clemson — Thornton and the Tigers start the season versus Georgia in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Zion Webb, Jacksonville State — Webb and the Gamecocks start the season versus UAB in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

EJ Williams, Clemson — Williams and the Tigers start the season versus Georgia in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Dadeville

Shawn Jennings, South Alabama — Jennings and the Jaguars start the season versus Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Glenwood

Kelcy Allen, Kennesaw State — Allen and the Owls start the season versus Reinhardt at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Jackson Griner, Austin Peay — Griner and the Governors start the season at Chattanooga at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Navy Harris, Troy — Harris and the Trojans start the season versus Southern at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Cameron O’Neil, Idaho — O’Neil and the Vandals start the season versus Simon Fraser at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Kye Robichaux, Western Kentucky — Robichaux and the Hilltoppers start the season versus UT-Martin at 7 p.m. Thursday.

LaFayette

Trevor Vines, Alcorn State — Vines and the Braves play their next game versus Northwestern State on Sept. 11.

Jordan Walker, Chattanooga — Walker and the Mocs start the season versus Austin Peay at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Lanett

Trikweze Bridges, Oregon — Bridges and the Ducks start the season versus Fresno State at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Kristian Story, Alabama — Story and the Crimson Tide start the season versus Miami (FL) in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ja’Won Howell, North Alabama — Howell and the Lions start the season versus Southeastern Louisiana at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Opelika

Jake Bentley, South Alabama — Bentley and the Jaguars start the season versus Southern Miss at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Charlie Benton, UAB — Benton and the Blazers start the season versus Jacksonville State in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Cade Blackmon, Samford — Blackmon and the Bulldogs start the season versus Tennessee Tech at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Will Boler III, UAB — Boler and the Blazers start the season versus Jacksonville State in Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

James Dawson, Kennesaw State — Dawson and the Owls start the season versus Reinhardt at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Kyle Fourtenbary, Northern Iowa — Fourtenbary and the Panthers start the season at Iowa State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Devin Guice, Auburn — Guice and the Tigers start the season versus Akron at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Jamias Presley, Prairie View A&M — Presley and the Panthers start the season at Texas Southern at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Jaylen Stinson, Duke — Stinson and the Blue Devils start the season at Charlotte at 6 p.m. Friday.

Reeltown

Eric Shaw, South Carolina — Shaw and the Gamecocks start the season versus Eastern Illinois at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Smiths Station

Justin Brown, Tennessee State — Brown and the Tigers start the season versus Grambling at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Caleb Coleman, West Virginia — Coleman and the Mountaineers start the season at Maryland at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Chad Strickland, Eastern Illinois — Strickland and the Panthers play their next game at South Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Deondrae Williams, Navy — Williams and the Midshipmen start the season versus Marshall at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tallassee

Tavarious “Truck” Griffin, Alcorn State — Griffin and the Braves play their next game versus Northwestern State on Sept. 11.

Valley

Tyreic Martin, Alcorn State — Martin and the Braves play their next game versus Northwestern State on Sept. 11.

Did we miss someone who is playing football at the FBS/FCS level? Be sure to email us, and we’ll include them on our Local Legends lists.

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