Football alumni look to play big roles on the collegiate gridiron
With college football fast approaching, we decided to catch up with one of the BlueJackets who will be playing in college this season. Todd Macon ‘13, who lettered in all four years as a running back at Farragut, is expected to be a major contributor to the football team at Liberty University this year after finishing the 2015 season ranked second on the team in touchdowns with eight. While the Liberty Flames enter the 2016 campaign with five capable running backs, The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Macon is the presumed starter and the projected number one back on the depth chart. Although he finished last season with just 303 yards on 73 carries, the St. Petersburg native is excited about taking a larger role this year.
“I have a lot more experience and definitely feel like I’m one of the leaders this year,” said Macon, who will compete as a redshirt junior this year. “There’s a lot of competition on our team this year but that will only make us better in the short and long term. For me, it’s all about doing the best I can, day in and day out.”
Macon, who helped the BlueJackets reach the state championship game in 2011, has drawn rave reviews from media members of the local press but others vying for the top spot have challenged Macon, including Carrington Mosley, another redshirt junior, redshirt-freshman Frankie Hickson, junior transfer Didier Moncion, and true freshman Mitchell Lewis.
“Competition makes everyone better, including myself,” said Macon, who has accounted for 134 of the 139 rushing attempts on the roster (Mosley has the other five).
Liberty, under the direction of fifth-year head coach Turner Gill, is picked to finish second to Charleston Southern University in the Big South Conference by the league’s head coaches and media panel. The Flames went 3-3 in the league last season and was not among the top two teams in the final standings for the first time in a decade, as Liberty suffered its most Big South defeats since 2005. Liberty, which returns 18 starters in 2016, collected one first-place vote and 86 total points in the voting.
The Flames open the season September 3rd on the road against Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Virginia Tech. The home opener for Liberty is September 10 against Jacksonville.
Off the field, Macon is on path to graduate in the spring with a degree in kinesiology.
Other Farragut football players who are expected to contribute in some fashion this collegiate season include:
Rayshawn Jenkins ‘12, University of Miami
Rayshawn Jenkins, who played alongside Macon on the 2011 team that went 12-2 during the run to the championship game, is expected to play a big role in the 2016 campaign as a starting safety for the Hurricanes. After sitting out the 2014 season due to a back injury, Jenkins, a redshirt senior, had his best collegiate year in 2015, finishing with 52 tackles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery. Miami competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had Clemson make it to the NCAA championship game last season and had Florida State capture it all in 2013. The Hurricanes begin their season at home against Florida A&M in Miami at Sun Life Stadium.
Napoleon Maxwell ‘14, Florida International University
Napoleon Maxwell, who was named to the Associated Press Florida Class 2A All-State first team while with the BlueJackets, missed last season with an ankle injury but is expected to be one of the main running backs for FIU this year. In his freshman season, Maxwell rushed for 254 yards on 55 carries and one touchdown over six games for the Panthers. He also had four catches for 90 yards, including one touchdown. FIU begins its season at home against Indiana on September 1 in Miami at FIU Stadium.
Craig Watts ‘16, University of South Florida
Craig Watts, who was one of the most sought after high school players in the nation last year, begins his freshman year with a strong chance to break into a starting spot at safety. While it is still unknown where Watts will be on the depth chart once the season begins, he has been competing hard for a starting spot during August practice. The Bulls have been picked to finish first in the American Athletic Conference by many publications. USF begins its season at home against Towson on September 3 in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium.