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PREP FOOTBALL SIGNING ROUNDUP: Monroe's Randle takes talents to Miles; Early's Taylor takes JUCO route; two Bainbridge stars sign with West Georgia Tech

Jawaski Randle, a star receiver and defensive back for the Monroe High School state playoff team this past season, is surrounded by friends and family Thursday afternoon as he signs a college scholarship to play for Miles College. (Mike Phillips/mike.phillips@albanyherald.com)

Jawaski Randle, a star receiver and defensive back for the Monroe High School state playoff team this past season, is surrounded by friends and family Thursday afternoon as he signs a college scholarship to play for Miles College. (Mike Phillips/mike.phillips@albanyherald.com)

Bainbridge stars Harris, Shaw head to West Georgia Tech

BAINBRIDGE — Senior linebacker Jamez Harris and senior offensive tackle Tim Shaw, a pair of Bainbridge High School Bearcats who were First-Team All-Region 1-AAAAA selections, signed recently with the West Georgia Technical College Golden Knights.

Looking on in the Bainbridge High School gymnasium’s hospitality room as they signed with the two-year school — which is located in Waco and beginning a new football program — were their families and Bearcats linebackers coach and Harris’ uncle, Kelvin Cochran.

Harris had 92 tackles, 62 solo and 30 assisted, eight tackles for loss and one caused fumble. He won the Tommy Smith Hustle Award, the top honor a Bearcats football player can receive.

The Smith Award is named for Navy Lt. j.g. Thomas Livingston Smith Jr., who died Nov. 27, 1961, while staying with his plummeting disabled aircraft to steer it away from a densely populated area near the Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan.

The award goes annually to a Bearcat player who demonstrates the same qualities of character, leadership, academic achievement and hustle that Lt. j.g. Smith demonstrated.

— Joe Crine/Bainbridge Post-Searchlight

ALBANY — It’s not easy to dominate the defense when you’re playing in the secondary, but there were times — many times — when Jawaski Randle did just that.

And he did it year-in and year-out at Monroe.

Randle is finally leaving Monroe after starting four years for the Tornadoes, who reached the second round of the state playoffs the past two years.

Randle, a hard-nosed safety who plays the game at full speed, signed a letter-of-intent Thursday at Monroe, accepting a scholarship to Miles College, where he hopes to be a four-year starter again.

“My plan is to get in the weight room and hit the weights hard and start to get ready for next season,’’ Randle said. “That’s my mindset from the start, to try to play as a freshman.’’

That wouldn’t surprise anyone at Monroe.

“Miles is real happy to get him,’’ Monroe coach Charles Truitt said. “They feel like he can play a lot there as a freshman, and I feel the same way.

“He was a four-year starter here, and he came in as a ninth-grader with the mindset that he was the best player on the field, and that carried over from year to year. Our defense went the way he went. He put the defense in a position to make plays.’’

Over the years, Randle played on both sides of the ball. He was used as a receiver/slot-back on offense, where his speed made him dangerous. But his first love has always been in the secondary, where he was not only a great cover player but one of the best open-field tacklers in Southwest Georgia.

Randle made 66 tackles as senior, including four for losses. He led the team with four interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and he also ran a punt back for a touchdown.

“He’s a great all around player,’’ Truitt said. “We used him both ways, and he is such a good defender that we used him to cover the other’s team’s best receiver. He’s a great young man, the kind of young man you would like to have for a son.’’

Randle excelled on and off the field, not only as a leader for the Tornadoes but also a leader in the classroom, where he has a 3.7 GPA. He plans on majoring in elementary education. He said Miles was the perfect fit.

“When I visited, it was such a great atmosphere there,’’ Randle said. “They made me feel like I was at home. They treated me like I was one of their own.’’

Truitt knows it will take two or three players to replace what Randle meant to Monroe.

“He will really be missed,” Truitt said. “We will miss him.’’


Early’s Taylor picks JUCO route, eyes D-I

BLAKELY — Jacori Taylor proved to be a quick study when he took over as Early County’s quarterback his junior season, then excelled as a senior, lead the Bobcats deeper in the state playoffs than they’d been in nearly a decade.

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Early County star QB and runner-up for Herald Player of the Year, Jacori Taylor, front row, center, signs with East Central Mississippi Community College this week. Joining Taylor at the signing was, front row, from left, his father, Edward; mother, Barbara; and stepfather Robert Barber, as well as, back row, from left, Bobcats head coach Trey Woolf and offensive coordinator John Randolph.

Now, East Central Mississippi Community College is hoping for the same kinds of results.

After all, they know what to expect: Taylor’s brother, Emmanuel, played there a few years back before moving on himself.

The rising JUCO program signed Jacori to a scholarship this week, hoping the speedy and elusive signal caller can take the reins early before Division I schools come calling.

“(My brother) told me that if I went there, the coaching staff would teach me a lot of things, and that they would teach you how to be a man,” Jacori said Thursday, adding he has fond memories of the school from watching his brother play games on Saturdays. “I remember watching my brother play there, and they have a good football country there. Everybody supports the football team. I love their spirit, and the team works hard and stays together.”

Taylor was the runner-up for The Herald’s annual Player of the Year award after he led Early County to the Elite 8 in the GHSA Class AA state playoffs. He completed 133 of 245 passes for 1,933 yards and 19 TDs, rushed for 899 yards on 179 carries and ran for seven TDs. He was also named the Offensive Player of the Year for Region 1-AA.

Bobcats coach Trey Woolf said he’s not sure how he’ll replace his star senior.

“He came so far fundamentally and from a leadership standpoint from his junior and seniors years,” Woolf said. “I was just so proud to see the player he’d become.”

Taylor said he’ll miss Blakely and all his teammates dearly, but he has goals of playing Division I ball — and he knows he’s got to get out into the world to make that happen.

“I am going to miss all of the support and all of the fans. We played hard this year, making it all the way to the third round. There are a lot of memories I have with my teammates,” he said. “Now I have a better chance of going to a Division I school, and I know they can help me make it to the next level.”