FOLEY, Alabama - Just imagine the Iron Bowl of the near future. A Baldwin County-infused game featuring Daphne’s T.J. Yeldon starting at running back for Alabama and Spanish Fort’s Reese Dismukes serving as the veteran of Auburn’s offensive …
FOLEY, Alabama - Just imagine the Iron Bowl of the near future. A Baldwin County-infused game featuring Daphne’s T.J. Yeldon starting at running back for Alabama and Spanish Fort’s Reese Dismukes serving as the veteran of Auburn’s offensive line.
And that’s just the start. Don’t forget about The Tide’s Ryan Anderson (Daphne) and Cody McCarron (Spanish Fort), and the Tigers’ Robert Leff (Fairhope) and Daniel Pond (Spanish Fort).
What was once a sight seen every few years is now common place: A county player starting or on the roster at one of the state’s big two. Only now, it’s multiple players. Baldwin alumnus over the next few years will join the likes of recent Foley-turned-Alabama standouts Julio Jones, Robert Lester and D.J. Fluker.
And it’s not just Alabama and Auburn. The number of county Football Bowl Subdivision players grows every year. This season, 31 former Baldwin stars are on a roster at college football’s highest level.
Veteran county coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Ebert believes a big part of that growing number is kids who are willing to play far from home, noting Daphne’s Kyndal Minniefield (Buffalo) and Baldwin County High’s Demetrious Coley (Western Kentucky).
“There’s so many schools out there,” Ebert said. “If kids are willing to go other places, coaches all over the country love to get kids from this area. When kids are willing to step out of their own backyard, it opens up more opportunities.”
And players going out of state help market Baldwin, creating a snowball effect.
“These coaches come back to the county looking for more players,” Ebert said. “We’ve got good kids; they’re good students, hard workers and great football players. I’ve been telling people that for 20 years.
“It’s a good product that Baldwin County is putting out. If you can play here, you can play anywhere in the country.”
Following is a roundup of Baldwin players currently on rosters of college and professional teams.
Baldwin County: FBS: D.J. Taylor (Sr., RB, Troy), Demetrius Coley (Jr., FB, Western Kentucky), Steven Stevens (RS-Fr., OL, Arkansas State). FCS: T.C. McWilliams (Sr., WR, Alabama St.), Division II: Antonio Curry (Jr., LB, West Alabama), Andrew King (Jr., WR, Northwestern Oklahoma St.), D.J. Mix (Fr., DB, William Jewell). Division III: Jordan Culliver (Sr., DB, Birmingham-Southern), Devante Smith (So., DB, Birmingham-Southern), Ryan Williams (So. Huntingdon), Aaron Cox (So., Huntingdon). NAIA: Montrey Thornton* (Fr., DL, Faulkner), Dalton Overstreet* (Fr., DL, Faulkner), Jacob Harrison* (Fr., DL, Faulkner). NFL: Wallace Gilberry (DL, Tampa Bay)
Bayside Academy: FCS: Hootie Hawkshead (Fr., DL/LB, South Alabama), Scooter Blake (Fr., DB, South Alabama). DIII: Dave McKeithen (Jr.,RB, Sewanee)
Daphne: FBS: Reggie Hunt (Sr., RB, Southern Miss), Eric Allen (RS-Sr., OL, Arkansas State), Michael Pierce (So., DL, Tulane), Kyndal Minniefield (RS-Fr., DB, Buffalo), Cameron Peterson (So., WR, Troy), T.J. Yeldon (Fr., RB, Alabama), Ryan Anderson (Fr., LB, Alabama), Eric Lee (Fr., DL, South Florida), Torren McGaster (Fr., DB, Vanderbilt), Jeremy Sparks (Fr., OL, Louisiana-Lafayette). FCS: Jacob Kirschenbaum (Sr., OL, Samford), Israel Lamprakes (Rs-Fr., WR, Southern Illinois), Zach Houston (So., DB, Alabama State), Preston Hughes (Fr., DB, Jackson State). CFL: Bryant Turner (DL, Winnipeg)
Fairhope: FBS: Chase Garnham (Jr., LB, Vanderbilt), Winston Chapman (RS-Fr., LS, Mississippi State), Robert Leff (Fr., OL, Auburn). FCS: Gavin Willisson (So., OL, Austin Peay), Alex Sealy (Fr., WR, Morehead State). Division II: Lewis Hunter (Fr., WR, West Alabama). NAIA: Sam Andrade (RS-So., OL, Cumberland, Tenn.), Tanner Martin (Fr., RB, Faulkner); Deounte Coleman (Fr., DB,Peru State), Brent McDonald (Point). JUCO: Kyron Samuels (Fr.,OL, East Central, Miss.), Charles Carter III (Fr. DB, Mississppi Gulf Coast).
Foley: FBS: Robert Lester (Sr., DB, Alabama), D.J. Fluker (Jr., OL, Alabama), Justin Anderson (Jr., DL, Louisiana-Lafayette), Darius Powell (RS-Fr., DB, UAB). FCS: Marcus Washington, (Jr., RB, Nicholls State). Division III: Joiner Stewart (Jr., DL, Millsaps), Alexander Stewart, (Jr., DL, Millsaps). NAIA: Kyle Churchwell* (Fr., OL, Faulkner). JUCO: Kalif Koen (FR, RB, Jones County, Miss.),Dre’shon McGaster (So., DL, Itawamba, Miss.), Quinton Butler (Fr., WR, Hutchinson, Kan.). NFL: Julio Jones (WR, Atlanta)
Gulf Shores: FBS: Brandon Gottfried (Jr., TE, Stanford), Tyler Stargel (Fr., LB, Georgia Tech), Brandon Silvers (Fr., QB, Troy), Chris Tilley (Fr., WR, North Alabama). Division II: Gary Johnston (Jr., QB, West Alabama); Division III: John David Swiger (Jr., LB, Huntingdon), James Duggan (Fr., OL, Birmingham-Southern)
Robertsdale: FBS: Dylan Hutto (RS-Fr., DL/LB, South Alabama). FCS: Cordero Dade (Fr., DL, Alabama A&M). Division III: Scott Foreman (Jr., OL, Belhaven), Ethan Vinson (Jr., OL, Belhaven). NAIA: Brian Combita* (Fr., DE, Faulkner), Jack Monte* (Fr., QB, Faulkner), Demetrius McKinney (Fr., Peru St.), Matt Maddox (Fr., Peru State), Ed Williams (Fr., LB/DL, Peru State). JUCO: Hunter Vaughn (So., QB, Jones, Miss.)
Spanish Fort: FBS: Reese Dismukes (So., OL, Auburn), Blake Dees (So., LB, Texas Tech), Daniel Pond (RS-Fr., LB, Auburn), Corey McCarron (So., TE, Alabama). Division II: Taylor Burnett (Jr., OL, West Alabama), Matt Harris (Fr., WR, North Greenville). Division III: Otis Smith (Fr., RB, Mississippi College). NAIA: Brandon McCants (Fr., DB, Point). JUCO: Ameriol Finley (So., DB, East Mississippi), Demarco Montgomery (Fr.,DE/LB, Georgia Military)