Montgomery-area football recruits make college choices on early signing day

Nick Alvarez
Montgomery Advertiser

The Robert E. Lee High coaching staff walked into a quiet halftime locker room and head coach Eric Hudson was shocked. 

The Generals held a 12-6 lead against Park Crossing on Oct. 16, but they had played a sloppy half. Hudson and his assistants huddled outside the locker room and decided which adjustments they'd deploy. Hudson was prepared to scream at the team to quiet down as he walked in.

But they were silent. Anquin Barnes, the four-year stalwart of Lee's offensive and defensive lines, stood up. Barnes had led a talk with the team, he told Hudson. The team had it covered.

"How can you yell and fuss when your kids are already focused on their jobs because of (Barnes) leadership?" Hudson said.

Lee's Anquin Barnes jokes with his head coach Eric Hudson after he signs with the University of Alabama for football in Montgomery, Ala., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020.

More:Nick Saban signs another top recruiting class for Alabama football

On Wednesday afternoon, Barnes sat in Lee's auditorium and completed a lifelong mission. His signature made his commitment to Alabama official. The 18th-best prospect in the state, per 247Sports, celebrated on early signing day with friends and family. 

Masks hid the smiles of administrators who also attended the ceremony. In the Lee community, Barnes was a jester. He had a recurring joke about being an excellent fisherman, Hudson said. In a short speech before the signing, Hudson likened Barnes to a son. 

"He did everything we would want from him as a player on and off the field," Hudson said. 

Barnes was the definition of a plug-and-play lineman. Hudson admitted that his defensive game plan will change next year now that the 6-foot-5, 299-pound defensive tackle won't clog running lanes. 

Next year, Barnes will join Nick Saban's defense that routinely produces NFL talent. Since Barnes was 5 years old, he said, he wanted to play for Alabama. He confirmed his decision after a trip to the 2017 Alabama-LSU game, a 24-10 Crimson Tide win.  

Commentary:Alabama football, Nick Saban sign No. 1 class despite a changing recruiting calendar

Back in Lee's auditorium, Barnes signed his name with a smile and tugged on his Alabama hat, cementing his future. 

"I'd like to take my talents to the University of Alabama," Barnes said. "I wanna say long live Chop. I want to thank everybody that supported me through this journey. Thank my mom, thank God, thank coaches. ... I love y'all. Roll Tide." 

Here's a breakdown of other River Region commitments from early signing day:

Ian Jackson, Alabama

Prattville Ian Jackson (3) takes the field with his team at Stanhope Elmore High School in Milbrook, Ala., on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. Prattville leads Stanhope Elmore 16-0 at halftime.

OLB (6-2, 225) 


247Sports composite: 4-star, No. 13 OLB 

Twitter handle: @IJackson_3

Jackson totaled 106 tackles for the Lions with two sacks, five quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery. He led Prattville's defense that allowed 15 points a game.  

Anquin Barnes, Alabama

DT (6-5, 299)

Robert E. Lee High 

247Sports composite: 3-star, No. 34 DT

Twitter handle: @AnquinBarnes

Recorded 30 tackles, two sacks, six pass breakups. Barnes, also an offensive lineman for Lee, played more than 100 snaps a game and "got used to it." 

Barnes explained his decision in his own words for The Advertiser. 

Harrison Wallace, Penn State

WR (6-1, 180)

Pike Road 

247Sports composite: 3-star, No. 88 WR 

Twitter handle: @iam_trey_10

Caught seven touchdowns, had nine total scores in 12 games. He had 696 receiving yards for the Patriots. Committed to the Nittany Lions late in the process. Some coaches believe he may be a "steal." 

Bernard Gooden, Wake Forest 

DT (6-1, 278) 

Park Crossing 

247Sports composite: 3-star, No. 64 DT

Twitter handle: @big_time321

Posted 75 total tackles, three sacks and four forced fumbles. The Demon Deacons envision Gooden as a defensive end. 

Reggie Davis, Florida Atlantic 

RB (5-11, 180) 

Robert E. Lee High

247Sports composite: 3-star, No. 96 RB

Twitter handle: @Reggie_D32

Averaged 229.8 yards per game for the Generals in 11 games. He ran for 13 touchdowns and scored six others. Davis explained his decision in his own words for The Advertiser. 

Joshua Rudolph, Austin Peay 

Mississippi All-Stars' Chandler Pittman (7) of Magee is chased by Alabama All-Stars' Joshua Rudolph (36) of Park Crossing at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Alabama All-Stars lead Mississippi All-Stars 10-0 at halftime.

ILB (6-0, 226)

Park Crossing

247Sports composite: 3-star, No. 58 ILB 

Twitter handle: @joshuaRudolph14

Tallied 105 total tackles and a sack in seven games for the Thunderbirds. Also helped his parents with the family's cleaning service throughout the season. He registered two tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit in the Alabama-Mississippi All-star game on Dec. 12 at Cramton Bowl. 

Lawrence McCloud, Georgia Southern 

DT (6-1, 265) 

Pike Road 

247Sports composite: 2-star, No. 141 DT 

Twitter handle: @lawrencemcclo11

Totaled 25 tackles for loss and six sacks with the Patriots. Led Pike Road's defense (8.9 points a game) in tackles.