'The Rock' Impresses Even In Loss

HOOVER – Perhaps still shocked over not making the AHSAA playoffs, a listless Oxford Yellow Jacket squad left Valleydale Road with a 20-6 loss to a Spain Park team that seems determined to make a run in the 6A post-season. Two stars stood out on this night. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: Offer-wise, you have to go with 'The Rock,' Oxford junior running back Racean Thomas, a 6-foot, 200-pound runner who gained 116 yards on 22 carries, the bulk of which came on a 42-yard fourth quarter scamper.

"He's the best I've seen in high school in a long time, and he's the best running back in the state right now, as a junior," said Spain Park coach Chip Lindsey.

"He's done an outstanding job," said Oxford coach John Grass. "He has over 1700 yards rushing. He's had a phenomenal year."

Alabama is said to be in great shape to land Thomas' pledge, perhaps sooner than later.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: My question is simple: why the heck doesn't Spain Park quarterback Nick Mullens have more college scholarship offers? Seriously!

"Nick Mullens has been our most valuable player. He's like a coach on the field. He's done an outstanding job for us," said Lindsey. "He's been a leader on our team, the catalyst of our offense, and his numbers speak for themselves. He's thrown it for around 3,000 yards, 35 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. He's one of the best I've ever coached, and I've been around some good ones. He loves the film room, too.

Said Grass: "Nick's just a good player. When I was here (coaching Spain Park), he was in middle school, and he's always been a heady player. He has a quick release, and he's very accurate. He's the most efficient passer in the state this year. I think somebody's going to pick him up and they're going to get a really good one. He goes the right places with the ball, and makes smart decisions."

Mullens left the game early in the fourth quarter with a stat sheet that read 19-for-25, 168 yards, and two touchdowns. He has a committable offer from Jacksonville State, and is getting looks from Auburn, Mississippi State, Murray State and Western Kentucky.

Oxford has two senior defensive linemen committed to Mississippi State. Ulric Jones (6-6, 270) showed some flashes by getting in the Jags' backfield at times. Trent Simpson (6-5, 230) missed the game with an injury

JUNIORS TO WATCH: For the Yellow Jackets, receiver LaQuandre Ferrell (6-1, 180) showed quickness and nice hands. Defensive back Trent Houston (5-11, 165) has great feet and a nose for the ball.

Spain Park kicker Thomas Taylor (6-1, 160) had a pair of touchbacks to go along with perfection on field goals (44, 29) and PATs. Running back Otis Harris (5-10, 190) is tough to bring down.

SUPER SOPHS: Running back Jontez Turner of Spain Park is 5-9, 170 and quick as a hiccup.

Oxford quarterback William Webber (6-0, 185) can beat you now with his feet. His arm is a work in progress, but signs say he will get there.

NEXT UP: A bye week for FNL but not for this author, who will be in comfortable Coleman Coliseum when the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball teams tips off its regular season with a game against NCAA tourney team South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits feature one of the college game's top players: guard Nate Wolters, an AP honorable mention All-America selection. He averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game in 2011-12 and became just the fifth player in NCAA history to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in a season.

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