One Columbia and three Hawthorne high school football players recently announced which colleges they committed to play for following their upcoming senior seasons.
Columbia (Lake City) safety/linebacker Jaden Robinson posted on social media on July 4 that he will play for the Division I South Carolina Gamecocks.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete as well as a great young man and a great student,” Columbia coach Demetric Jackson said in a phone interview. “He’s one of those players defensively you’ve got to find out where he’s at at all times because he’s skilled enough to cover a wide receiver or tight end, or running back out of the backfield, but he’s also strong and big enough to rush the quarterback and cause some problems as a rusher. We played him as a safety, he’s played outside linebacker and inside linebacker, so he’s played multiple positions.”
Robinson (6 feet, 215 pounds) earned Mainstreet Daily News All Area 2021 big school defensive first team honors in the secondary where he tallied 94 tackles, three interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery his junior season.
Hawthorne’s Mozell Williams (6-5, 340), an All Area 2021 small school offensive lineman, committed to the DI Rutgers Scarlet Knights on June 12.
“[Williams] has done a lot for our program since his freshman year and he’s taken a tremendous step forward as far as maturing on and off the field,” Hawthorne defensive coordinator Dustin Adkins said. “He takes the weight room seriously, he takes his body seriously and academics. Just watching him grow and develop, he’s just scratching his potential as far as how dominant of an offensive lineman he can be. He’s a good kid, he doesn’t complain, shows up to work every day and anchors our offensive line.”
Fellow senior Stanley Cooks, named to Mainstreet’s All Area 2021 small school first team as an offensive lineman and first team All Area 2021 small school defensive lineman, committed to play for the DI Georgia State Panthers on July 3.
“Stanley came to us last year and he was known more for being a D-lineman, but [Hawthorne] being a smaller school he definitely stepped up and played offensive line as well,” Adkins said. “He doesn’t complain and doesn’t let it affect his ability to play both ways. He’s still been very dominant on the defensive side of the ball.”
On defense, Cooks compiled 65 tackles, including 18 for loss, and was second on the Hornets defense with eight sacks.
“He’s an emotional player so when he makes plays he’s out there yelling, and having those emotions kind of rallies the troops,” Adkins said. “He plays multiple sports, so it’s good to have him out there in different sports and still being a leader no matter if it’s football, basketball or in the weight room. And [Cooks] and Mozell push each other every day. They’re constantly trying to go against each other one-on-one and they’re using each other to achieve greatness.”
Jailen Ruth (6-5, 200) enters his senior season coming off back-to-back dominant seasons where he was named to Mainstreet’s first team All Area 2021 small school as a junior and first team All Area 2020 small school as a sophomore as a defensive lineman. Ruth announced his commitment to the DI Washington State Cougars on July 3.
“I coached Jailen’s older brother, Jarrius, about four or five years ago, so I’ve known Jailen since he was in middle school and just thinking about his story is definitely heartwarming,” Adkins said. “He used to have aspirations to be a tight end and I’ll never forget about his sophomore year as an undecided 150-pound kid and he said ‘I’ll play D-tackle’ because we were looking for somebody to play scout team in practice, so Jailen got established by his tenacity and his motor in practice.”
Adkins said Ruth was unblockable in practice and when they decided to try him in a game, he added “the rest is kind of history.”
For the past two seasons, he’s wreaked havoc as a defensive end with 102 tackles as a junior, including 29 tackles for loss and 17 sacks. That follows a sophomore year where he had 122 tackles and 13 sacks.
“He probably has the best motor of anyone I’ve ever coached regardless of the school I’ve been at,” Adkins said. “A very coachable kid, you don’t get anything other than ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ out of him and he has like a 3.7 GPA, he’s a leader within his community, both on and off the field. And this year I think he’s taking the next step to being a vocal leader as well. When he speaks, everybody listens.”
And like Williams and Cooks, Adkins added none of these three Hawthorne players have scratched the surface of their potential.
“Just watching [Ruth] grow from 140 pounds dripping wet in middle school to 200 pounds— and he still looks skinny now—his accession has been something I’ve loved to see. I can only imagine when he gets to the next level and puts on 50 or 60 pounds, he’s going to be someone that has the potential to play on Sundays [in the NFL].”