E.A. Sports Today

Oxford quartet

Waiting out the recruiting game works out for offensive lineman Bunn, who will take his shot at playing in the SEC; Carroll, Kimbrough and Battle also eye next level

By Joe Medley
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Sometimes, even in the transfer-portal era, waiting out the recruiting game works out best.

As Oxford offensive lineman Jackson Bunn donned a University of Kentucky cap and blue tie Wednesday, one could count him a believer.

A late preferred-walkon offer changed the direction of his playing career and life, and he celebrated that change during Oxford’s National Signing Day ceremony in the school’s media center.

Bunn joined three Oxford teammates during Wednesday’s ceremony: wide receiver/defensive back Emari Carroll (Charleston), defensive end Josiah Kimbrough (Millsaps) and safety Michael Battle (Millsaps).

Bunn’s late change came after a Tuesday conversation with Kentucky offensive line coach Zach Yenser.

“‘Coach Yenser came to the school Tuesday and gave me an opportunity to play, and I’m definitely going to make the most of it,” Bunn said. 

Bunn said he chose Kentucky’s PWO offer over “some FCS offers” plus an “FBS” offer, but called Kentucky’s offer “by far the biggest.”

“Jackson is really just the epitome of a guy that just kind of kept his nose to the grindstone,” Oxford coach Sam Adams said. “He may not have been one of those household type names as an offensive lineman, as most offensive linemen go, but just continued to put in the work day after day.

“He had a lot of smaller offers then luckily had this big opportunity pop up last week with Kentucky.”

Adams said he’s had to rethink how to advise players in the portal era, with schools looking first at portal players looking to transfer with college experience. Some schools take as much as half of their class from the portal, he said.

“It’s really to the point of, just get on somewhere and see where everything goes from there,” Adams said.

Bunn plans to major in engineering geared toward mining. The eastern half of Kentucky and West Virginia are known as mining country, and Kentucky has a program.

“It’s about the only one you can go to, other than Ole Miss, that has it,” he said.

Adams on Carroll

After focusing more on defense as a senior, Carroll said he looks forward to starting his college career back at receiver. He said he took the best scholarship offer he could get.

“Emari Carroll was a guy who played well on both sides of the ball,” Adams said. “He made several huge plays for us and probably has brought more energy to the team than anybody else that I’ve been around on any team, for that matter.”

Adams on Kimbrough

Kimbrough said he weighed offers from Belhaven, West Virginia Wesleyan, Culver-Stocton and another school “10 hours away,” up north. He liked that Millsaps was closer to home

“Josiah Kimbrough has kind of battled as what most guys would consider an undersized defensive lineman, but provided great leadership for us and was a team captain,” Adams said. “He’s one of the most positive, respectful human beings that I’ve ever been around.”

Adams on Battle

Battle said he expects to play the “star” safety position in college after playing linebacker at Oxford.

“Mike Battle, as a football player, he’s explosive,” Adams said. “Again, he’s probably on the undersized end of the spectrum as an inside linebacker but plays with great effort and great enthusiasm.”

Cover photo: Oxford’s Jackson Bunn announces his decision to play football for the University of Kentucky during Wednesday’s National Signing Day ceremony in the Oxford High media center.

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