Now that national signing day is over and most of the class of 2017 has signed with the school of their choice, we here at JoxPreps decided to take a look at some of the players that weren’t at the top of the recruiting charts, but that impressed us throughout their careers here in the state of Alabama.

We start this spotlight off with a player who had probably more national accolades than anyone, despite not even finishing in the top three for his classification’s individual back of the year award in the state. That player is Minor all-purpose back Jaylond Adams.

The meteoric rise of the Minor Tenacious Tigers

Adams, along with Minor as a whole, was an interesting case to watch all season long. Minor wowed us all with their high flying offense that averaged over 50 points in the regular season and won a region title for the first time since 2003. To get to this point though, we have to go back to 2014.

After the AHSAA moved to the seven classification system in 2014, Minor stayed in Class 6A and was placed in Region 5 with former 5A powers Homewood and Briarwood. Although the Tigers lost to Clay-Chalkville to kick the season off, they then went 5-2 in region play losing to Homewood and Walker to secure a 3-seed in the playoffs. There, they lost to Muscle Shoals, but it was still the first playoff berth since 2011 for Minor.

Leading the Tigers to that playoff berth was new head coach George Bates. Bates ended up leading Minor to the playoffs again in 2015, once again as a 3-seed after losing to Homewood and Walker, two hurdles they just couldn’t get over along with Clay-Chalkville, who they lost to in the regular season and the playoffs, making it three losses in two years.

This past season, Minor and Walker were both shifted over to Region 6 with the loss of Huffman to 7A and the rise of Ramsay, Parker, and Carver-Birmingham mixing up Regions 5 and 6. Led by Adams, Yul Gowdy and JaCure Jackson, along with junior DeLonte Evans, Minor started off with two wins over Greensboro 48-8 and Central Carrolton (GA) 54-0. As Minor entered region play, they beat Pinson Valley 45-13, a Pinson team that had just beaten McAdory a couple of weeks earlier. That’s when we started to turn our heads and start looking at Minor as a contender. After beating Gardendale 52-28, the whole state started paying attention to the Tigers.

At the center of all of Minor’s success was Jaylond Adams.

The big tests came in the last part of the season. All three teams they hadn’t been able to get past were on their schedule within four weeks or each other. First up, Clay-Chalkville, now a region foe. That test was passed with flying colors thanks to Adams scoring five touchdowns on the night.

Next – Walker. After falling behind 42-12, Minor ended up on top 60-48. Test two passed.

Finally, Homewood. However, this was in the playoffs. Minor was the hottest team in the state at that point, while Homewood had been one of the more disappointing teams in Class 6A. In the fourth quarter, Minor found themselves down 21-12. After Adams only had 40 all-purpose yards in the first half against Homewood’s defense, he ended up with 253 all-purpose yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns to help lead Minor to yet another comeback victory, this time 42-21.

All three tests had been passed, and even though they weren’t easy, Minor was on the road to the Super 7.

Until Ramsay came along.

Baniko Harley and Ramsay ended the dream season for Minor in the quarterfinals with a 40-20 victory and Minor just didn’t quite look the same. That turned more attention to other players in the state, such as Harley, and perhaps is part of the reason Adams wasn’t listed as a top three finalist for back of the year in Class 6A.

That’s not to say the three players ahead didn’t deserve it, but it does raise some interesting thoughts when it comes to local awards and national awards.

An All-American back

The list of accolades for Jaylond Adams, while impressive, isn’t complete. It makes you ask a few questions when you see some of the differences between national accolades, and some local awards where he isn’t even a finalist.

Obviously awards are opinionated and voted on and not everyone agrees, but regardless, it doesn’t matter what Adams didn’t win – it’s what he did win.

That list of accolades includes being named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Alabama. This prestigious award has been awarded to many great football players in the state of Alabama. Adams joined an elite fraternity including:

QB Jameis Winston (Hueytown)
WR Julio Jones (Foley)
QB John Parker Wilson (Hoover)
QB Jamarcus Russell (Williamson)
RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams (Etowah)
LB Saleem Rasheed (Shades Valley)
QB Tyler Watts (Pelham)

And more recently names like Auburn RB Kerryon Johnson (Madison Academy) and Maryland QB Ty Pigrome (Clay-Chalkville) have won the award.

He was also named a Parade All-American back in January, something that no other player in the state was named this season. He joined other first-team All-Americans including RB Najee Harris, OT Alex Leatherwood, LB Dylan Moses and others. While Adams made the first team roster, he was listed ahead of other players including Cam Akers, who was listed as the #1 back in the country this year according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Adams was also named first-team All-State for Class 6A by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, and was named first-team All-State for all classifications by us here at JoxPreps.

You would think a player with that many accolades would have been the most highly touted recruit in the state and courting offers from Alabama, Auburn and other major power five schools across the country.

Maybe not.

It’s not National Signing Day without some drama

Signing day came and with it, we all waited to see who Adams would choose. There had been rumblings of Missouri or Indiana being a potential location as far as power five schools, and plenty of group of five schools had been mentioned as well.

Adams finished rated #38 in the state composite rankings. Even that low in the rankings, the two players above and below him signed with Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt, and North Carolina. But for some reason, colleges just weren’t on the Jaylond Adams bandwagon.

We’ve seen it time and time again, but could it be a size issue? Not to go full Butch Jones, but does size really matter if a kid has the skill to make up for it and has more dedication to his game than someone five inches taller?

Adams is listed as 5-10, 180 lbs. Perhaps too small for what some teams are looking for. One look at his tape and you see the raw athletic talent that Adams has which makes you forget about his size.

So here we are, National Signing day 2017. The time comes for Adams to choose and…it’s Troy!

We spend the afternoon here at JoxPreps and on Jox 94.5 talking about the great athlete that Troy has just signed, putting their class as one of the most impressive this year with the underrated talent they had picked up like Adams, Terence Dunlap, Justin Whisenhunt, DeKarlos Billingsley, Travon Mathis and more.

The day was coming to an end and we had broken down every angle on signing day possible.

Then this tweet comes across our timelines after 6 pm.

Confusion sets in for all of the people who follow high school football in the state of Alabama. After watching the signing day event at Minor and seeing Adams put the Troy cap on, apparently Adams had a change of heart. He had not sent his National Letter of Intent in to Troy and at some point between the signing day event at the school and that evening, he had submitted paperwork to Southern Miss instead.

What the future holds

It’s not the first time a major player in the state of Alabama chose Southern Miss. A former Gatorade Player of the Year ended up there once before with Spain Park quarterback Nick Mullens after the 2012 season. While Adams won’t ever have the luxury of Mullens throwing him the ball with Mullens graduating this year, he will join a program that has turned it around from 0-12 under Ellis Johnson a few years ago and in the last couple of seasons has competed for a conference title and gone to two consecutive bowl games.

Jaylond Adams has as much, if not more raw talent than a lot of players that we saw sign with major power five schools on signing day. It’s rare to find the kind of talent that can consistently make plays like Adams was able to do. There is no doubt he was an all-star this season and a big reason for Minor’s success as they won a region title and made their second straight quarterfinal appearance.

The future for Minor is somewhat in question with Adams and a few other play makers gone, along with the school parting ways with head coach George Bates, who should be credited with not only a big time turnaround of Minor, but helping to develop players like Adams as well.

Minor will compete in 6A Region 6 again this year, in a region that sees a few talented players leave, including Clay-Chalkville wide receiver Nico Collins, Carver linebacker Cardell Jones, and of course Jaylond Adams. For the Tigers, a lot will fall on the shoulders of DeLonte Evans this season.

For Southern Miss, Jay Hopson is getting a lot of talent in both Adams and Saraland cornerback WyDale Flott.

Adams ended last season 76 catches for 1,502 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus 86 rushes for 725 yards and another 13 touchdowns. While this Minor season may have ended in a disappointing fashion, you can’t discredit the talent that the team had, and Jaylond Adams hopes to continue to show that talent for the next four years in Hattiesburg.