Central has 14 decide their future colleges 

By Mark Clark

There were some twists and turns and some last-minute decisions, but when all was said and done 14 Central High football players made their final decisions on where they will continue their careers in the sport.

The biggest question being asked as the day began was whether four-star linebacker Markail Benton would keep his pledge to Alabama that he made last June or would be flip and go to Auburn? Benton took an official visit to Auburn last Friday and Saturday and then wound up his weekend in Tuscaloosa. As the 14 Central players prepared to take their places at the signing table in the school’s new multi-purpose building, Benton’s cellular phone rang. He looked down to see the call was coming in from Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn. Even though Auburn pressed for the star Red Devil, no flip would occur. Benton remained true to his word and signed with the Crimson Tide.

“It is a great feeling to have my recruitment over with,” Benton said on National Signing Day. “I’m ready to focus on my future at Alabama. The coaches there are great. I have a good relationship with them. It just felt like where I should play.”

The others who signed on National Signing Day for the Red Devils were: Jaxton Carson, Karon Delince, Trent Kelley, Devon Mathews, Devonte Miles, Phillip Parrish, Demetrius Pettway, Devin Pittman, Alvin Rentaria, Trevor Smith, Ravaughn Turner, Bryce Wade and Zion Webb.

Carson, Central’s leading rusher, signed to play with Kennesaw State University along with Pettway, a defensive back. 

“It feels like home there, “Carson said. “I will have a chance to make an early impact. It’s a young program, so I will have a chance to set records if I play well. It’s in a great location, near Atlanta, and not too far from Phenix City.”

Webb, the Red Devils’ starting quarterback, chose to continue his playing career with Jacksonville State University. 

“I feel good about my decision. It feels good to finally say, ‘I did it.’ They did not make any promises except that I would have the chance to compete for playing time. I plan to do my best to see if I can make that happen.”

Delince, a three-year starter at defensive back, decided to play football for East Tennessee State. But, he also decided to accept the offer because the school would allow him to also to run track. Delince is a former state champion in track and runs the 100 and 200 meter dashes. He says he will also try to compete in the long jump as well.

“It was such a good family environment. The players showed me how much they cared for each other while I was there. The coaches were nice to me and my family when we visited. And, they have a track program. I’m going to be able to compete in both sports.”

Mathews and Miles signed with the University of the Cumberlands as an offensive lineman and running back respectively.

The biggest group – three players – signed with Faulkner University. Rentaria is the first place kicker to receive a scholarship for a DuBose-coached team in his career the veteran coach said at the ceremony. Parrish signed as an offensive lineman and Pittman signed as a wide receiver.

Smith accepted the opportunity to play as a tight end at Point University.

Turner, who played on the defensive line for the Red Devils, will play either linebacker or running back for Hutchinson Junior College in Kansas, maki9ng him the signee who will continue his career further from home than any of the players. 

“I love it. It is great to have a chance to keep playing. They want me to come in and work hard to see where I can help them the most, but at linebacker or running back. It has been over a year since I played running back, but I still remember how to run,” Turner said.

The final two players at the ceremony will continue to play football at the college level with preferred walk-on status. Kelley will be at Auburn University and Wade will join Troy University’s team. Kelley had opportunities to play for other Division I schools on scholarship, but chose to become a Tiger because he wants to enter the engineering field when he graduates.

“I am proud of all of these players who signed and the ones that will walk-on. They all probably could have gone to larger schools, but they chose the schools they wanted to attend. They have worked hard to get to this point. I know their parents are proud of them,” DuBose said. “We still have some other players who have work to take care of that might be able to sign later, maybe four or five. If they get the things done they need to get done, they could be pursuing their dreams as well. I want our younger players to see these guys today and to understand they need to get their academics in order. They need to start working now. They cannot wait until the last minute.”

DuBose then explained which colleges could recruit players by their grade-point averages. The percentages of colleges ranges from 96 percent for players with 4.0 GPAs and down to 8 percent for players with 2.0 GPAs.