Baldwin County well represented on college football rosters

A non-comprehensive list at how locals look to represent at the next level

Sports Editor
Posted 8/27/23

College football season has arrived and across the country, it’s hard to find a roster that doesn’t include a Baldwin County native.

From the SEC to the Mountain West Conference and …

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Baldwin County well represented on college football rosters

A non-comprehensive list at how locals look to represent at the next level


College football season has arrived and across the country, it’s hard to find a roster that doesn’t include a Baldwin County native.

From the SEC to the Mountain West Conference and plenty more in between at various levels, Baldwin County roots have spread far and wide.

Gulf Coast Media compiled a non-comprehensive list of college football rosters that feature players with high school experience in Baldwin County. To report additional players to be included on the list, email

3 named to preseason watch lists

While it’s easy to find local players at the next level, a few have made such an impact they have garnered national attention and were named to watch lists for awards presented to the best at their positions.

Duke junior quarterback Riley Leonard from Fairhope had been named to four National College Football Awards Association preseason watch lists as of press time. After he helped the Blue Devils win their first bowl game since 2018 as the first bowl game MVP since Daniel Jones, Leonard was featured on the watch lists for the Manning Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm.

Auburn senior cornerback DJ James from Spanish Fort was also named to multiple watch lists, including ones for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. James earned second-team all-SEC honors last season and was recognized alongside some of the best defenders in the country. His name on the Nagurski Trophy Watch List marked the eighth Tiger named to the list since 2018.

Another former Spanish Fort Toro, Brady Wilson, was recognized among the best centers in America entering his redshirt junior season. The Rimmington Trophy Watch List included Wilson who was one of the highest-graded centers in the American Athletic Conference according to Pro Football Focus despite only four starts at center for the Blazers last year. In those games, UAB averaged 31.5 points and 451.8 yards of offense per game.

Iron Bowl, Army-Navy rivalries set to feature local ties
Local athletes will be playing in two of the most iconic college football rivalries in the nation when Alabama and Auburn clash in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 25 and when the Army-Navy game is played on Dec. 9.

Three locals hold roster spots for the Crimson Tide (Foley’s Ty Roper, Bayside Academy’s Jay Loper and Gulf Shores’ JR Gardner) and the Tigers’ roster features one of Spanish Fort’s plethora of college players in DJ James. The 88th meeting between the state’s SEC teams will be played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn where Alabama enters with a 49-37-1 lead in the all-time series.

Daphne Trojan fans will come out as winners of the Army-Navy game with a player on either side of the rivalry. Hamilton Baker is entering his senior year as a linebacker for the Army Black Knights and Tyler Bradley is set for his freshman season as a slotback with the Navy Midshipmen.

The 124th installment in America’s Game will be played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, where Navy will bring its 62-54-7 all-time lead in the series.

Siblings spread out
While the Spanish Fort Toros have among the most former players currently on college rosters, they also feature three sets of brothers who have all taken separate college paths.

Holdan Wilson is set to wrap up his collegiate career with the University of New England Nor’easters in Biddeford, Maine, and Cooper Wilson is heading into his redshirt sophomore season with the Quincy Hawks in Illinois.

Three Hixons are carrying on their family legacy at the college level. After three seasons at Alabama State, Jeremiah Hixon is preparing for his redshirt senior season with the New Mexico Lobos and offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent who head coached the Toros from 2007-10. Both Zachariah (Alabama State) and Josiah (North Alabama) Hixon are gearing up for freshman seasons at in-state schools after graduating from Spanish Fort in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Each brings state championship experience to the next level.

Jackson Burkhalter announced his transfer from the University of Rhode Island to Holmes Community College in Mississippi for his sophomore year with plans on being a spring transfer after the season. Christian Burkhalter was featured on Georgia Tech’s roster last year.

All three sets of siblings also have one more brother still playing for the Toros who all are set to graduate in 2025, including Sawyer Wilson, Nehemiah Hixon and Bishop Burkhalter.

Team totals
The Spanish Fort Toros led the way on this non-comprehensive list of 98 athletes with 21 former players on college rosters, followed by 16 from the Daphne Trojans and 14 from the Fairhope Pirates.

The Gulf Shores Dolphins were next with 11, followed by 10 Foley Lions, eight St. Michael Catholic Cardinals, five Baldwin County Tigers, four Orange Beach Makos, four Robertsdale Golden Bears, two Elberta Warriors, two Bayside Academy Admirals and one Snook Christian Eagle.

Below are some of the local athletes who are featured on college football rosters for the 2023 season. 

SPANISH FORT: Brady Wilson – UAB; Carl Fauntroy Jr. – UAB; Carlos Johnson – South Alabama; Cooper Wilson – Quincy; DJ James – Auburn; Grant Betts – Troy; Holdan Wilson – University of New England; Jackson Burkhalter – Holmes; Jacob Godfrey – New Mexico; Jeremiah Hixon – New Mexico; Johnny Morris – Tuskeegee; Josiah Hixon – North Alabama; Kris Abrams-Draine – Missouri; Matt Quinn – UAB; Micah Gaffney – Virginia; Mike Crawford – UAB; Mike Franklin – UTEP; Reed Hopkins – Millsaps; Reeve White – Coe; Ryan Duff – Tuskeegee; Zach Hixon – Alabama State

DAPHNE: Cam Long – Miles; Cameron Young – Alabama A&M; Christian Williams – South Florida; Diego Guajardo – South Alabama; Hamilton Baker – Army; Jacob Galmiche – West Alabama; Jamarion Evans – NW Mississippi; James Quinnelly – Penn; Johnnie Perdue – NW Mississippi; Logan Heiter – West Florida; Midnight Steward – Samford; Stacey Boykins – South Alabama; Stephon Blackshear – Coffeyville; Trent Battle – TCU; Trent Tews – Huntingdon; Tyler Bradley – Navy

FAIRHOPE: Blayne Myrick – South Alabama; Bryson Martin – Faulkner; Caden Creel – Jacksonville State; CJ Pickens – Faulkner; Cory Devole – Belhaven; Eli Webb – South Alabama; Glenn Patrick – Coast Guard; Jayson Jarrell – South Alabama; Lashavion Brown – Hutchinson; Luke Freer – Air Force; Owen Vander Wal – West Alabama; Owen Williams – Hampden-Sydney; Riley Leonard – Duke; Trenton Spaller – Faulkner

GULF SHORES: Ace Salter – River City Prep; Brax Duncan – Belhaven; Brendon Byrd – Virginia Military Institute; Cameron Cooper – Huntingdon; Charlie Hollis – Huntingdon; Hunter Morton – Huntingdon; J.R. Gardner – Alabama; Nick Carris – Huntingdon; Taevon Anderson – Shorter; Tavares Elston – Trinity Valley; Tyler Schepker – Huntingdon

FOLEY: AJ Prim – Mississippi Gulf Coast; Cameron Schultz – Jones; Essex Casey – Faulkner; Forrest Taylor – Samford; Harrison Knight – Jones; Isaac Gamez – Birmingham Prep; Reece Tynes – Independence; Ty Roper – Alabama; Tyler Hamby – Mississippi Prep; Zander Bonifay – Huntingdon

ST. MICHAEL CATHOLIC: Austin Maloney – Birmingham Southern; Clay Barr – Delta State; Donovan Cotton – Coffeyville; Ezra Sexton – New Mexico; Justin Helper – Nicholls State; Luke Edmiston – Birmingham Southern; Moe Faiupu – Huntingdon; Tyler Cella – Benedictine

BALDWIN COUNTY: Antonio Williams – West Alabama; Ky McNulty – Troy; Randy Jones – Huntingdon; Tiaquelin Mims – Southern Miss; Tyler Jernigan – South Alabama

ORANGE BEACH: Cash Turner – South Alabama; Chris Pearson – Houston; John Wallace Holladay – Troy; Will Reddell – South Alabama

ROBERTSDALE: Glen Williams – Gordon Prep; Haven Davis – Faulkner; Konner Tims – Palmetto Prep; Taven Curry – UAB

ELBERTA: Cason White – Campbellsville; Nicholas Thrift – Huntingdon

BAYSIDE ACADEMY: Jay Loper – Alabama; Mac Douglas – Trinity

SNOOK CHRISTIAN: Hayden Joiner – Faulkner