Irby verbally commits to Jacksonville State

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Demopolis senior wide receiver Fred Irby will undergo a change of scenery and likely a change of position next year after committing Sunday to continue his football career at Jacksonville State University.

“They were on me from day one,” Irby said of his decision to go commit to the Gamecocks. “I felt like that was the place for me. So I committed right then and there.”

Irby had previously garnered interest from a number of programs including Tuskegee and Arkansas State. But, in his mind, Jacksonville State was the frontrunner.

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“They’re not just about football,” Irby said. “They’re all about you getting your grades in school. That’s what really sold me.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Demopolis head coach Tom Causey said. “Obviously, he’s going to get an opportunity to play college football, but he’s going to get an opportunity to go to college. That’s most important. He’s changed not only his life, but he’s change his kids’ lives as well.”

At JSU, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Irby will play either wide receiver or tight end. While he is uncertain of which will be his primary spot, Irby said he is up for the challenge of either.

“(Moving to tight end) won’t really be a big adjustment for me,” Irby, who committed to JSU the same day he received the offer, said. “As far as the blocking, I’m going to really have to work on that more than my route running or my pass catching.”

“Fred grew up a ton this year, committed himself to his teammates,” Causey said. “He became a better football player. His blocking is unbelievable. They’re getting a guy that can play tight end if you put him on the line, up in the slot at a Y or you can put him on the edge. They’re getting three positions in one guy. The sky is the limit for Fred. He has the potential to be a great player.”

Irby said getting the offer was both a relief and the realization of a dream.

“My mom said, ‘You better not be playing with me.’ She was real shocked. My uncle (Monaleto Irby) was most excited because he played at Jax State,” Irby said. “(Getting the offer) takes a lot of weight off not only my shoulders, but my parents’ shoulders too. That’s something we always dreamed of, me and my brothers not only being able to play ball at the next level, but also getting to go to school for nothing. It’s a great feeling. I give all thanks to God. Without him, I would not be able to do the things I am capable of doing. He gave me those abilities and I made the most of it by working my tail off and listening to everything Coach (Causey) had to tell me.”

Irby is the second Demopolis player to give a verbal commitment in the span of a week. Last Tuesday, senior Larry Cobb gave his verbal contract to Tuskegee.

“They are men of high character and they are good football players to boot,” Causey said of the attention Demopolis players are receiving from college programs. “Every one of our young men that made plays for us made a conscious decision to not just play football, but to become football players. Fred did that.”