Former Troup players ready for SEC challenge
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
Troup head football coach Tanner Glisson is going to enjoy his Saturday afternoons this fall.
Troup will be well-represented on the college-football scene, and three of his former players will be playing for teams in the SEC West.
King Mwikuta is preparing for his sophomore season at Alabama, while Kobe Hudson (Auburn) and Andy Boykin (Arkansas) are heading into their freshman seasons.
“For our program, it’s huge,” Glisson said of having three players in the SEC. “Each one of them has a story, and the other kids here can see it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if in one more year Joko Willis is in the SEC, and you’ve got (Jamari) Thrash at Georgia State. It’s really good for our program.”
Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas will all play each other this season as members of the powerful SEC West.
“Being in the league that we’re talking about, the SEC West, that’s as good as it gets,” Glisson said.
Mwikuta, a three-year starter at Troup, got significant playing time as a freshman at Alabama as a reserve linebacker and special-teams contributor.
Mwikuta played in 10 games and had four tackles, with three of them coming in a game against New Mexico State.
“He played on kickoffs, he played on punts, he played on certain situations on defense,” Glisson said.
Alabama has lost both of its starting outside linebackers from the 2019 team, and Mwikuta is a leading candidate to fill one of those spots.
Mwikuta was a three-year starter and an all-state player as a defensive lineman at Troup.
“He’s 6-foot-4, he’s up to 255 pounds, and he can run,” Glisson said. “They don’t have a lot of guys coming back at his position. It’s an exciting time for him.”
At Auburn, Hudson has been on campus since January as an early enrollee, and while spring practice was canceled, he was at least able to spend a few months on campus before the students were sent home in the middle of March.
“Kobe comes in, and he’s able to go through all the mat drills and the conditioning program,” Glisson said.
Hudson was signed by Auburn as a wide receiver, but he’s a versatile player who was also a quarterback and defensive back at Troup.
Hudson was a wide receiver his first two seasons at Troup before moving to quarterback, and he was the Region 5-AAAA player of the year as a junior when he helped the team go 12-2 and reach the state semifinals. Hudson will be a part of an offense led by quarterback Bo Nix, who had a standout freshman season in 2019.
“The good thing about Kobe is him and Nix have a great relationship, and they’re not too far from each other,” Glisson said.
When Hudson signed with Auburn in December, he said he was willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, and that includes taking instruction from the coaches.
“If you want to be great, you’ve got to be coached,” Hudson said. “If you want to be good, listen to your coaches, and make them push you hard.”
For Hudson, the opportunity to play for head coach Gus Malzahn was a key to his decision to sign with Auburn.
“For me, I wanted to have a great relationship with the head coach,” Hudson said. “Me and Gus Malzahn, we built a great relationship. He’s like another father to me.”
Boykin, a defensive lineman, was heavily recruited by Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman, who was previously 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.”
Boykin is looking forward to seeing what his fellow former Troup Tigers can do in college.
“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.”