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Boykin commits to Troy

THOMASTON — Wednesday was a banner day for Jeron Boykin and the A.L. Johnson football program. Boykin, a senior offensive lineman for the Eagles, committed to continue his playing career at Troy, becoming the first ALJ player to receive a football scholarship offer since the late Roderic Cade achieved the feat with an Alabama State commitment in 1999.

“There haven’t been a whole lot of (signees),” Mose Jones, who has served as ALJ’s head coach for 16 years, said of the scarcity of Eagle commitments over the years. “This is good publicity for the school and the program and the community. It’s just been a real exciting year. We’ve just been tickled to death. It’s just been a blessing for the program.”

But as big as the day was for the Eagles — who finished third in Class 1A, Region 3 and made a playoff appearance this season — it was even more substantial for Boykin, an athlete who is almost seems larger than life at 6-7, 302 pounds.

“Nobody in my family graduated from college. It’s a great opportunity,” Boykin said. “I just want to play football and (Troy) gave me a chance.”

Boykin was one of the centerpieces to the Eagles’ ground game and will be afforded similar opportunities at Troy where he will continue to develop on the offensive line.

“People try to down me sometimes, but I don’t listen to them. I just do what I have to do,” Boykin said. “My focus (the rest of my senior year) is to just stay in shape and just be me, have time with my friends because I might not see them again. I need to work on my strength a little bit and my footwork and altogether the way I play football.”

Despite his Division I size, the opportunity very nearly never came for Boykin, who broke his ankle during his sophomore season. Boykin lost his conditioning while suffering from the injury and almost gave up football. Jones talked him into returning for his junior campaign, a season that saw him struggle at times as he attempted to rebound from the ailment. In retrospect, Boykin credits Jones for his ability to persevere through the injury.

“Coach Jones, he kept telling me that I had the talent, told me that ankle wasn’t nothing and to quit being a baby. I listened to him and it worked,” Boykin said.

“I just told him just to hang in there, things could get a lot better,” Jones recalled. “It’s been a real opportunity to coach him. Early on, we had to motivate him a whole lot. But I knew he was going to have a chance to sign a D-I scholarship because he has always been the biggest in the class.”