Fairhope alum and Duke quarterback Riley Leonard highlights a group of football players who graduated from Baldwin County schools that hold college roster spots entering this weekend’s …
Fairhope alum and Duke quarterback Riley Leonard highlights a group of football players who graduated from Baldwin County schools that hold college roster spots entering this weekend’s season-opening games.
Last weekend, Leonard was announced as the Blue Devils’ starting quarterback as only a sophomore heading into Friday’s season opener against the Temple Owls at home. He beat out classmate Jordan Moore who reportedly also took snaps at receiver throughout camp.
"After a very intense quarterback battle this fall, we have decided to go with Riley Leonard as our starting quarterback," Duke head coach Mike Elko said in a statement. "We are excited to see him lead our team this fall, and we also know that Jordan Moore will be an impact player for our offense in many roles as well."
In seven games of action last year where he started against Virginia Tech, Leonard completed 37 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown to go along with 173 rushing yards on 47 carries and two touchdowns.
Burkhalter, James, Williams find new homes
Leonard might see a familiar face opposite him in the Blue Devils’ second conference game in Atlanta against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Former Spanish Fort Toro and current redshirt freshman defensive lineman, Christian Burkhalter transferred to Georgia Tech after injury troubles at UCLA as a true freshman last year. The former three-star prospect has four years of collegiate eligibility remaining.
Burkhalter is one of many former Toros on college rosters currently and was recently joined by DJ James in the transfer portal. James transferred from Oregon to Auburn where he enters his junior season with 70 career tackles and two interceptions.
Another former Baldwin County standout who found a new college home is Christian Williams who graduated from Daphne and chose Miami from a slew of Division I offers in 2019. Ahead of the 2021 season, he transferred to the University of South Florida where he racked up 20 tackles and two interceptions in seven games.
Bayside’s Loper, Foley’s Roper meet in Tuscaloosa
Jay Loper is another Daphne native although he recently graduated from Bayside Academy after he earned a roster spot with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The 5’ 11”, 180-pound receiver is joined on that roster by another true freshman in former Foley Lion Ty Roper, who checked in as a 5’ 8”, 189-pound defensive back.
South Alabama, Huntingdon host plethora of local players
The rosters for the South Alabama Jaguars and Huntingdon Hawks are both heavy with former local players with 15 total between the two schools, eight at USA and seven at HC.
South Alabama’s roster features a quartet of Spanish Fort Toros (Carlos Johnson, Jalen Wayne, Cooper Wilson, Brady Wiggins) and a pair of Fairhope Pirates (Blayne Myrick, Logan Lanicek) as well as a single Daphne Trojan (Diego Guajardo) and Baldwin County Tiger (Tyler Jernigan) each.
A trio of Elberta Warriors (Hayden Hinson, Nathan Steiner, Nicholas Thrift) leads the way on Huntingdon’s roster alongside a Gulf Shores Dolphin (Charlie Hollis), Baldwin County Tiger (Randy Jones), Foley Lion (Zander Bonifay) and Spanish Fort Toro (Aaron Threat).
A non-comprehensive list of other locals on college rosters, by high school
Baldwin County High
Southern Mississippi: Ty Mims
Trinity University: Steadman Jones, Mac Douglas
Alabama A&M: Cameron Young
Memphis: James Quinnelly
Samford: Midnight Steward
Texas Christian: Trent Battle
Air Force: Luke Freer
Birmingham Southern: Jayson Jarrell
Coast Guard: Glenn Patrick
Faulkner: Trenton Spaller, Bryson Martin
Faulkner: Essex Casey IV
Faulkner: Hunter Morton
Kennesaw State: Rodney Taylor Jr.
North Alabama: Rhett Riles
Texas Tech: Tavares Elston Jr.
Faulkner: Haven Davis
UAB: Taven Curry
Alabama State: Jeremiah Hixon
Missouri: Kris Abrams-Draine
North Alabama: Nathan Brown, Corson Swan
Samford: Alex Jarrell
Towson: Tyler Johnston III
Troy: Grant Betts
UAB: Carl Fauntroy Jr., Matt Quinn, Mike Crawford, Brady Wilson
Virginia: Micah Gaffney
St. Michael Catholic
Birmingham Southern: Austin Maloney, Luke Edmiston