ODENVILLE – All through their football playing days, Grayson Beatty, Jayce Fisher and Garrett Sanders have experienced highs and have seen lows.
In junior high, they experienced undefeated, county championship seasons at Odenville. In high school, they suffered through 3-7 seasons – until their senior year when Matt Glover was named head football coach.
St. Clair County had a successful 7-3 regular season, knocked off three consecutive Top 10 teams in the state playoffs before losing a heartbreaker to top-ranked Briarwood Christian to finish the season 10-4.
Now, these three seniors will continue playing the game they love at the collegiate level.
Beatty signed a scholarship to play football at Jacksonville State University.
“This means a lot,” Beatty said. “It has been a dream since I was a kid. I have thought about this day for a long time, and I am excited.”
Other colleges interested in Beatty included Troy University and Indiana Wesleyan.
“I chose JSU because when I went to visit and was on campus, it just felt like I was at home,” he said. “It’s close to home, and I’ve always seen myself going to JSU.”
Beatty said having the opportunity to play for JSU head football coach John Grass was crucial in his decision.
“He seems like a great guy and great coach,” he said. “He cares about the guys on his team and congratulates them on their accomplishments.”
Beatty, 18, maintains a 2.7 GPA, and plans on majoring in business.He’s the son of Brian and Sharlene Beatty of Odenville.
Playing for Coach Matt Glover his senior year at SCCHS was unbelievable.
“The main thing I learned from him was that the more you prepare for a team, and the harder you work, the better you are going to be come game time,” Beatty said. “It’s all a brotherhood, and it’s all about making that bond a family bond. This past season was just special. I was truly blessed to play under Coach Glover.”
While Beatty has dreams of playing in the NFL one day, he said the most important thing is to get that business degree. If the NFL comes calling one day, he said he would love to play for the New England Patriots.
Fisher signed a football scholarship with Faulkner University in Montgomery.
Other colleges interested in Fisher included a couple of Mississippi junior colleges and Indiana Wesleyan.
“Faulkner just felt like home every time I visited,” Fisher said.
After playing quarterback all through his junior high and high school days, Fisher hopes to step right in at Faulkner and win the starting quarterback position come August.
Fisher is the 17-year-old son of Shane and Tabitha Fisher of Odenville. He maintains a 3.2 GPA, and is undecided what he will major in, but is leaning toward law or business.
Fisher said it was awesome playing for Glover this past season.
“Coming from the past few seasons of going 3-7 each year, I just wanted a change,” Fisher said. “Coach Glover did an amazing job coming in preparing us and getting us ready. It was just a new experience for all of us, and we loved it because it definitely turned out great in our favor as we advanced to the fourth round of the state playoffs and won 10 games this past season.”
Fisher was named Co-Offensive Player of the Year in St. Clair County. He, too, has dreams of playing in the NFL, and would love to play for the Atlanta Falcons.
Sanders signed a football scholarship with Birmingham-Southern College. Huntingdon College also showed interest in Sanders.
“I chose BSC because it was closer to my family, and when I visited there, it just felt like I was at home,” he said.
Sanders, 17, is the son of Brad and Kelli Sanders of Odenville. He maintains a 3.9 GPA, and he plans on majoring in education. When asked about playing in the NFL one day, Sanders said, “If it happens, it does; if not, it wasn’t meant to be.”
“I want to be a high school teacher and coach one day,” he said. “I’m thinking more past football right now.”
Sanders said playing for Glover was absolutely awesome.
“Coming from several 3-7 seasons to going 10-4 this past season was simply amazing,” he said. “He taught us a lot, and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him.”
Glover said you always want to see your guys be successful.
“These three guys and this team demonstrated that,” he said. “We had four guys sign football scholarships this year and a couple of more who could have. As their coach and athletic director, I am proud of the accomplishments they have made. I am proud most of all because they had the ability to go to college due to academics. That’s the big thing. Colleges are always looking for men and women if they have good academics. I’m proud of these three guys for being leaders on this team. If my son turns out like any of these three guys, I feel like I did a good job being a dad.”
SCCHS principal Mike Howard said it was great to see what these three young men did on the athletic field, but it made him more proud as a principal to see what they accomplished in the classroom.
“As you leave here, and move to the next level, just remember that not only do you represent yourself, you represent your family, your school and this entire community,” he said. “We couldn’t be more proud of what you are about to accomplish in four years.”
Reach Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.