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Big day for Troup signees

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

Four football players who were a part of an ultra-successful senior class at Troup High have made their decisions.

During a ceremony in Troup High’s new indoor practice facility on Wednesday afternoon, Andy Boykin (Arkansas), Jabralin Gooden (Iowa Western), Trey Williams (Shorter University) and Devon Hill (New Mexico Military Institute) each signed their national letters of intent.

Another former Troup football player, Kobe Hudson, took advantage of the early signing period in December and signed with Auburn.

A handful of other seniors are still weighing their college options and will sign down the road.

Tanner Glisson, who has completed his fifth season as Troup’s head coach, believes each of the players made the right decision.

“The longer I do this, the more I believe it’s about finding the right fit,” Glisson said. “Everybody at that table today I believe found the right fit.”

Football, Glisson said, is giving the players the chance to go “to school for free, and I feel like every one of those guys found what they were looking for.”

One of those players is Boykin, who made his commitment to Arkansas over the weekend before making it official on Wednesday.

Boykin, a defensive lineman, was recruited by Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman, who previously was the offensive-line coach at Georgia.

“Me and him always had a relationship from when he was at Georgia,” Boykin said. “We just picked up that relationship at Arkansas. He’s just a very genuine person.”

For Boykin, having the recruiting process over and done with is a relief.

“It’s like a big weight lifted off my shoulders,” Boykin said. “It’s like I had this whole building on my shoulders. Now I can take it off, because recruiting is stressful.”

Boykin is happy for each of his teammates who will also get to realize the goal of playing college football.

“Including Kobe, I’m really proud of everyone,” Boykin said. “I want nothing but the best for my teammates. I have a great relationship with them, and I’m so proud of them. The dream is not over.”

Two of Boykin’s teammates on the defensive side of the ball, Devon Hill and Jabralin Gooden, are going to different parts of the country to pursue their college dreams.

Hill is heading west to join the football program at New Mexico Military Institute, and Gooden will play for Iowa Western Community College.

Hill is a versatile player who was a linebacker as a junior before transitioning to defensive back as a senior, and he was an all-region player both years.

Hill said it’s “very emotional” to be in a position to achieve a long-time goal.

“God put me in this position,” Hill said. “I’m very excited.”

As for making the transition from high school to college, Hill said it’s just “getting up every morning, knowing I’m at a different place. I’ll just have to adjust.”

Gooden, a big-play linebacker for the Tigers, said coach Iowa Western recruiting coordinator Jamar Johnson “made it feel like home, like it’s the place I need to be.”

Gooden had other options when it came time to choose a college home, but he “chose (Iowa Western) over some of the other offers I had because I can elevate my game more.”

Gooden believes having played for Troup for four seasons has him prepared for what’s ahead.

“Troup is a hard-working program,” Gooden said. “We love to put in the work and achieve our goals. It’s a good feeling.”

Williams, who is coming off a big-time senior season, will be staying in the state to play for the Shorter University Hawks.

Shorter has struggled to find wins in recent years, but Williams is excited about the future under second-year head coach Zach Morrison.

“I think we’ll be great in the future,” Williams said. “Coach Morrison, the head coach for Shorter, he said it’s brick by brick. We’ll just keep building.”

Williams heads to college on the heels of a memorable senior season when he ran for close to 1,500 yards.

“It was great,” Williams said about his senior season. “I enjoyed everything about it. I wish I could do it again.”

For Glisson, it’ll be difficult to say good-bye to a group of seniors who have helped elevate the program.

The Tigers have made the state playoffs four straight years, and they went 12-2 and reached the state semifinals in 2018.

“They’re really going to be missed,” Glisson said. “Kobe did his thing in December, and then Luke Purnell and maybe one or two other guys will be coming down the road. That’s a really good senior class.”