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Watch now: Opelika alum Jaylen Stinson takes kickoff back for touchdown at Duke
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PREP FOOTBALL | LOCAL LEGENDS

Watch now: Opelika alum Jaylen Stinson takes kickoff back for touchdown at Duke

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In no time flat, Opelika alum Jaylen Stinson was off to the races Saturday.

Stinson ran up to field a kick return during Duke’s game against Pittsburgh before changing directions and taking off down the right sideline. Stinson raced down the field and avoided Pitt’s kicker — the Panthers’ last line of defense — and made his way to the end zone on an 86-yard return that gave Duke a 19-14 lead early in the second quarter of action.

“[Pitt kicker Ben Saud] kept kicking the ball short, and I knew that if I caught the ball with a running start that I would be able to have a shot. I just trusted my guys and everybody attached to a man,” Stinson told GoDuke.com. “I was able to run outside of one of my guys, then I had to beat the kicker and there were two more guys I had to beat. I just knew it was a footrace to the end zone.“

Stinson’s touchdown was the ultimate highlight from a game in which he had seven returns for 195 yards and also registered three tackles for the Blue Devils in a 54-29 loss. Stinson was rewarded for his efforts Monday, when he was named ACC Specialist of the Week.

Through nine games this season, Stinson has 27 tackles, one tackle for loss and three pass break-ups. He’s had 26 kick returns for 556 yards and one touchdown.

Stinson got involved as a true freshman with the Blue Devils last fall and was given the Bill Keziah Award as the team’s top special teams player. He recovered a muffed punt for a touchdown last fall against Virginia Tech and accumulated 12 tackles along with 355 kick-return yards.

Stinson arrived at Duke after being a three-year letterman at Opelika. His senior season in 2019 was a sensational one, as he recorded 67 solo tackles with one sack and one interception and helped the Bulldogs reach the Class 6A state semifinals.

In his final three seasons at Opelika, Stinson had 221 tackles, four INTs, eight TDs, two forced fumbles and two blocked field goals.

Here’s a roundup of the other former Friday night stars from the area who stood out this week at the collegiate level:

Auburn High

Avery Atkins, LSU — Atkins had five punts for 201 yards — an average of 40.2 yards — and had two touchbacks on three kickoffs in the Tigers’ 20-14 loss to Alabama.

Matthew Caldwell, Jacksonville State — Caldwell was 1-for-3 passing for 11 yards in the Gamecocks’ 40-25 victory over Abilene Christian.

Mohamoud Diabate, Florida — Diabate had a game-high 12 tackles in the Gators’ 40-17 loss to South Carolina.

Anthony Imperio, Eastern Illinois — Imperio played on the offensive line in the Panthers’ 42-26 loss to Austin Peay.

Garrett Morris, Penn — Morris had six tackles, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hurry in the Quakers’ 15-12 loss to Cornell.

Griffin Speaks, Baylor — Speaks played but did not record any statistics in the Bears’ 30-28 loss to TCU.

Central-Phenix City

Markail Benton, Jacksonville State — Benton had six tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and one interception for 52 yards in the Gamecocks’ 40-25 victory over Abilene Christian.

Xavier Billingsley, Alabama A&M — Billingsley had one tackle in the Bulldogs’ 42-14 victory over Mississippi Valley State.

Jaxton Carson, North Alabama — Carson had eight carries for 24 yards in the Lions’ 45-33 loss To Monmouth.

J’Lan Carson, Alabama State — Carson played but did not record any statistics in the Hornets’ 24-20 loss to Prairie View A&M.

Javion Cohen, Alabama — Cohen started at left guard in the Crimson Tide’s 20-14 victory over LSU.

Mason Cook, Georgia State — Cook played on the offensive line during the Panthers’ 21-17 loss to UL-Lafayette.

Karon Delince, ETSU — Delince had three tackles and one tackle for loss in the Buccaneers’ 27-20 victory over VMI.

Terrell Gordon, Georgia State — Gordon played but did not record any statistics during the Panthers’ 21-17 loss to UL-Lafayette.

Marquez Henry, ETSU — Henry had three tackles in the Buccaneers’ 27-20 victory over VMI.

Jackson Meeks, Georgia — Meeks played but did not record any statistics in the Bulldogs’ 43-6 victory over Missouri.

Joseph McKay, East Carolina — McKay had four carries for 14 yards in the Pirates’ 45-3 victory over Temple.

Tyler Moore, Kennesaw State — Moore had three tackles, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one sack and one quarterback hurry in the Owls’ 45-21 victory over Robert Morris.

Justyn Ross, Clemson — Ross had five receptions for 58 yards in the Tigers’ 30-24 victory over Louisville.

Jahlil Ryles, MTSU — Ryles started at left guard in the Blue Raiders’ 48-21 loss to Western Kentucky.

Ray Thornton III, Clemson — Thornton played but did not record any statistics in the Tigers’ 30-24 victory over Louisville.

EJ Williams, Clemson — Williams had one reception for seven yards in the Tigers’ 30-24 victory over Louisville.

Dadeville

Shawn Jennings, South Alabama — Jennings had two tackles in the Jaguars’ 31-24 loss to Troy.

Glenwood

Kelcy Allen, Kennesaw State — Allen had one tackle in the Owls’ 45-21 victory over Robert Morris.

Navy Harris, Troy — Harris played but did not record any statistics in the Trojans’ 31-24 victory over South Alabama.

Kye Robichaux, Western Kentucky — Robichaux had two carries for six yards in the Hilltoppers’ 48-21 victory over MTSU.

Lanett

Trikweze Bridges, Oregon — Bridges played but did not record any statistics in the Ducks’ 26-16 victory over Washington.

Ja’Won Howell, North Alabama — Howell played but did not record any statistics in the Lions’ 45-33 loss To Monmouth.

Kristian Story, Alabama — Story played but did not record any statistics in the Crimson Tide’s 20-14 victory over LSU.

Opelika

Jake Bentley, South Alabama — Bentley was 3-for-3 passing for 49 yards and rushed once for 12 yards in the Jaguars’ 31-24 loss to Troy.

Charlie Benton, UAB — Benton had seven tackles and one tackle for loss in the Blazers’ 52-38 victory over Louisiana Tech.

Will Boler, UAB — Boler had five tackles in the Blazers’ 52-38 victory over Louisiana Tech.

James Dawson, Kennesaw State — Dawson started at right tackle in the Owls’ 45-21 victory over Robert Morris.

Kyle Fourtenbary, Northern Iowa — Fourtenbary had one reception for 11 yards in the Panthers’ 17-10 loss to Illinois State.

Jamias Presley, Prairie View A&M — Presley had four tackles, one pass break-up and 0.5 tackles for loss in the Panthers’ 24-20 victory over Alabama State.

Smiths Station

Chad Strickland, Eastern Illinois — Strickland started at left tackle in the Panthers’ 42-26 loss to Austin Peay.

Deondrae Williams, Navy — Williams had one tackle in the Midshipmen’s 34-6 loss to Notre Dame.

Tallassee

Tavarious “Truck” Griffin, Alcorn State — Griffin had one tackle in the Braves’ 35-31 loss to Bethune-Cookman.

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