WJ celebrates

West Jones Detorurean Crosby (34) and Byron Young celebrate West Jones' 21-13 victory over Picayune on Friday night. (Photo by Cady Davis)

I’m not the type of person who likes to tell someone what to do.

I have the responsibility of directing my sons in what they should do, or have to do. I also have a few employees under me that I have to give directions of what they need to do.

However, in both cases there is a mutual respect for each other and all parties understand that I am only doing my job as a dad or as a “boss.”

The early signing period for college football starts on Wednesday and there is one player in the Free State I feel like I have to offer my opinion.

Now, as Murph has always told me, “my opinion and $3 will get you a ride on the New YorkCity Subway,” but I feel like I have to throw this out there before West Jones defensive end Byron Young signs his name and makes an official commitment to any school.

Once you sign, that’s, that. No turning back, without losing a year of eligibility.

According to 247sports.com, Byron is the No. 4 recruit in the Magnolia State and one of the Top 100 recruits in the entire country.

Think about that for a few seconds. Right here in Jones County we have one of the Top 100 high school football players in the whole country. Laurel offensive lineman Charles Cross is the No. 5 prospect in the state. 

But this column is about Byron, since I have watched every second of every game in which he has played this year.

And this is where I start to begin my sales pitch.

Byron verbally committed to Alabama back in the summer. He is scheduled to play in the 2019 All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 4. Before he signs any paperwork, there is still some soul-searching and serious considerations that must be made.

If Byron signs with Bama he will get to play for the greatest college football coach of all-time.

But, Nick Saban is 67 years old. He has won six national championships (five at Bama). If he wins another he will tie the legendary Bear Bryant with the most titles won in Tuscaloosa. And that can be enticing and exciting to any recruit.

However, there is always a rebuttal.

In this case, it lands us roughly 35 to 40 minutes in an opposite direction.

Tuscaloosa is about two hours and change from the Free State, while Baton Rouge is just under three hours away. It really isn’t that big of a difference in drive time for traveling family members.

However, the chance to do something special is greater in Red Stick than it is in T-Town.

Now, you can throw your hands in the air and yell at me because I am an LSU fan, but that is not why I am writing this. I just want a young man to make the right decision and not be swayed by outsiders who want him to go where the gold is now.

There are only two teams in the SEC that are close to being on the level with Alabama. Georgia (which LSU beat by three touchdowns this season) and, of course, the Bayou Bengals.

LSU returns the core of its entire team for next season. And there is even room for Byron to be a contributor on that team next year. Is that the same case at Bama? Or, will Byron have to watch from the sidelines all of next year.

Going to LSU, Byron could be a part of the fourth national championship team in Tigers’ history. Going to Bama, he could be a part of the 18th, 20th of 67th national championship team in Tuscaloosa, according to who you ask.

It is a lot easier to walk into a situation where the groundwork has been laid for multiple years to have the opportunity to reach the top of the mountain. The tougher task is walking into a situation where you have to put in more work to help a proud program get back to where it wants to be.

I get it. 

If I was a highly sought after recruit in high school football, I would give Alabama my utmost attention if they wanted me to come play in the Crimson and White. But, at the same time, I would also like to be a part of something new, more of a changing of the guard, so to speak.

I am no Byron Young. I never was and never will be. But I do know that Byron is not only a very smart young man, but that he has all the potential in the world to grace the playing surfaces of the NFL in the years to come. And it doesn’t matter if he plays his college ball in Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge or Boise, Idaho. But being a part of something new and different seems, to me, to be a lot more enticing than just being a part of the same-old-same-old.

Byron, you have my utmost respect. You have always displayed kindness, respect, humility and are the type of teammate who anyone would want to have on their side. And that is why I ask that you sit down by yourself and consider the options.

You can go somewhere that has been there and done that many timers over or go somewhere that you can cement yourself into a legacy that far fewer individuals have been able to do.

Don’t just go to a school for what it has been in recent years. Go south ‘Young’ man and make a name for yourself instead.

Guru Nichols is former sports editor of the Leader-Call.

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