Leader Blues

Friday, December 01, 2006

SPORTS >>Devils plan for Saturdays

IN SHORT: Four of Jacksonville’s seniors have the possibility of playing college football after a strong 2006 season for the Red Devils.

By JASON KING
Leader sports writer

The senior offensive backfield for the Jacksonville Red Devils raked in some impressive stats during the 2006 football season, and the accolades are still pouring in.

After winning a share of the 6A East Conference title, quarterback Daniel Hubbard, along with tailbacks Justin Akins and Lee Robinson and reciever Norvel Gabriel have all been named to the All-Conference team.

The trio is also looking to play football on Saturdays starting next fall. Robinson is hopeful to hear from Auburn University after sending a highlight tape. He was pleased with the year he had during the 2006 season.

“I did good on defense,” Robinson said. “And I helped the offense out a lot.”

Akins and Hubbard have both received offers from Tulsa. Both players like the idea of playing for a Division I school.
Gabriel was not available for comment, but has also had university interest from Arkansas State, along with several other major schools.

Hubbard also has interest from Mississippi State and Oklahoma State. He says regardless of where he ends up, he wants it to be close to home.

“I had a lot of fun this year,” Hubbard said. “We won more games this year, and won the conference title. I wish we would have gone a little bit further in the playoffs, but we still had a great time.”

Along with interest from Tulsa, Akins has also been in contact with Arkansas, Missouri State and the University of Arkansas. Although some might perk up at the thought of a Red Devil playing at the U of A, Akins says not to hold your breath.
“They want me as a defensive back at Arkansas,” Akins said. “I don’t want to do that, I’m trying to run the ball.” Akins says of all the interest out there, he is leaning towards Tulsa.

Akins was also happy with the outcome during the ’06 season, and with his own growth and improvement.
“It was a good year, I played harder than last year,” Akins said. “I ran the ball harder and broke a lot more tackles this year.”
Although they were stopped in the first round of the playoffs their junior and senior years, the class of 2007 senior offensive backfield will be remembered for some time to come as the group that started the Red Devil passing attack.

“We were Jacksonville’s first passing team,” Hubbard said. “We weren’t a pure passing team because we had Justin and Lee, but we were the first to run out of the new offense.”

Akins says the group of seniors has stuck together through the tough times and shown a lot of character over the last three years.

“We have had a lot of camaraderie,” Akins said. “This year, everybody got along. There were no fights. We were down in a lot of games, but we all stuck together. In the second half, we would just come out and get after it. We played as a team and didn’t let anything come between us.”

The four players were also named to this year’s All-Conference team, making the senior class for 2007 one of the most sucessful in Red Devil football for several years. The legacy left by this group will undoubedly be a yard-stick for future classes of Jacksovnille football.