Demopolis sending four football players to NCAA ranks

Demopolis High School celebrated all of its athletic signees Wednesday. Pictured are football signees Jamarcus Ezell (Tuskegee), Rahmeel Cook (Army), Jay Craig (Tuskegee), athletic director Stacy Luker, golf commit Mark Joseph Johnson (UWA), soccer signee Adam Brooker (UAB), football player Jacob Rodrigues (Huntingdon College), baseball commit Luke Yelverton (Spring Hill College) and DHS principal Chris Tangle.

Demopolis High School celebrated all of its athletic signees Wednesday. Pictured are football signees Jamarcus Ezell (Tuskegee), Rahmeel Cook (Army), Jay Craig (Tuskegee), athletic director Stacy Luker, golf commit Mark Joseph Johnson (UWA), soccer signee Adam Brooker (UAB), football player Jacob Rodrigues (Huntingdon College), baseball commit Luke Yelverton (Spring Hill College) and DHS principal Chris Tangle.

Demopolis saw four of its football players solidify plans to play at the next level Wednesday. The occasion marked the eight consecutive National Signing Day that has seen at least one Demopolis player sign a football scholarship.

Cook 2Defensive end Rahmeel Cook received a commission to West Point and signed to play at Army while a Tiger tandem chose Tuskegee and an offensive lineman took an opportunity to play at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

“Demopolis is known for getting kids signed. A lot of scouts know about these kids here and they’re going to at least come through and check on them and they’re usually going to find them at least two or three players,” Demopolis coach Stacy Luker said. “I think we’re set up where we could sign three to five each year.”

Cook, who had 65 tackles and five sacks for the Tigers in 2015, chose Army over offers from a handful of schools, including Southern Miss.

“It was really the opportunities outside of football but, at the same time, I’ll still be playing DI football,” Cook said of his decision.

“Having a kid sign with West Point is great for our school. It says good things for our school system and for Rahmeel Cook and his family,” Luker said. “I think, for him right now, he’s looking at his future 10 or 12 years down the road. That opens a lot of doors for him.”

An Advanced Placement student in all of his core classes, Cook pointed to West Point’s prestige coupled with his family’s military background as significant factors in his decision to shut down his recruitment after committing in December.

“That’s a major thing to start with a degree from somewhere like that. I don’t think anything could match it,” Cook said. “I’ve got family members who have been in the service and for me to go to West Point and not have to start where they started is really exciting for them.”

Jamarcus Ezell

Jamarcus Ezell

Demopolis also saw a pair of players sign with rising Division II power Tuskegee Wednesday as quarterback Jamarcus Ezell and Jay Craig continued a lifelong trend of sticking together.

“That was really big. That makes us a duo. We’ve been going everywhere together basically our whole lives,” Ezell said.

Ezell and Craig played middle school athletics in Demopolis before returning to their Choctaw County roots for their freshman and sophomore seasons, ultimately landing back in Demopolis for their final two campaigns.

Ezell is a two-year starter at quarterback for the Tigers and chose Tuskegee over an offer from Harding University, where his father played college football.

“My dad kept on telling me it was my decision. Even though he did play at Harding University, he just kept on telling me all along that it was my decision and it was my choice,” Ezell said.

Ezell slides into a system under Tuskegee coach Willie Slater that is similar to the I-Formation offense he commanded his only season under Luker.

“They’re offensive system is a lot like ours was. They run the (I-formation). They run a lot of leads and play-action passes and put the quarterback on the move. I think Jamarcus is that kind of guy,” Luker said. I think he’s a dual threat but he is a different kind of dual threat. He’s not a 15 to 20 times runner per game but he is a 15 to 20 times passer per game, which his about what they are. I think, system wise, it was a great fit for him.”

Jay Craig

Jay Craig

Craig, who led Demopolis with 1,448 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground in 2015, chose Tuskegee over Miles, UWA and Alabama A&M.

“I had a lot of family that went to Tuskegee. Talking with them and them telling me everything about Tuskegee and everything they did. And the offense they run is similar to what we did in Demopolis,” Craig said. “Coach Slater told me when I met with him there is not favoritism. He said if you come in and do what you’ve got to do then you’ll have a great opportunity to start.”

For Craig, the decision-making process heavily involved his family’s support.

“They’ve stuck with me from the ground up on playing football since I was little, about four years old until now,” Craig said. “They’ve been with me the whole way through this recruiting process. We talked about the pros and the cons of each college that wanted me.”

Ezell and Craig each play baseball at Demopolis as well and intend to try out for the baseball team at Tuskegee. Such an opportunity played a role in the decision of Demopolis offensive lineman Jacob Rodrigues as he will play football at Huntingdon College and attempt to make the baseball team as well.

Jacob Rodrigues

Jacob Rodrigues

“I felt pretty accomplished because it was getting pretty late in the game and they kind of came out of nowhere and offered me,” Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues moved from center to strong guard for the 2015 season, featuring heavily as the Tigers’ road paver in an offense that ran the ball just shy of 50 times a game.

“When Coach Luker came in and he moved me from center to strong guard, I feel like it gave me more opportunities,” Rodrigues said. “They told me if I come in and learn the plays, they can work me at either center or guard. I’ve just got to go in and learn the plays.”