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Southern football players set plans for playing in college

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By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

There was a somewhat natural connection for Southern Alamance’s Jackson Parrish during the football recruiting process. His teammate, Wesley Smith, created some of his own ties in uncovering a college destination.

They both signed to play college football last week. Parrish is going to Division II Barton College in Wilson, while Smith’s venture will take him to the Midwest to join Dakota Wesleyan.

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Parrish, a running back for Southern’s high-powered rushing attack, was pursued in recruiting by first-year Barton assistant coach Jasmine “Jazz” Vinson, a Cummings alum and former offensive coordinator for the Cavaliers. Vinson is running backs coach at Barton.

“He really wanted me as a player and as a person,” Parrish said.

Parrish played in 13 games in 2023 for the Central 3-A Conference champion Patriots (12-2). He gained 1,108 yards and scored 15 rushing touchdowns and made six two-point conversion runs. He also had one TD reception.

Jackson Parrish

“You saw what Jackson did to people who tried to tackle him,” former Southern coach Fritz Hessenthaler said.

Parrish, who intends to major in communications, said his participation in Fellowship of Chirstian Athletes and Young Life were factors in selecting Barton.

“It was really based off how I felt there,” Parrish said. “It boiled down to the true value of it.”

Smith, a linebacker, made a stop at Dakota Wesleyan, which is located in Mitchell, South Dakota, last summer and developed a fondness for the place. The feeling was mutual.

“During the season, they called me and said they were going to give me a scholarship,” he said.

Wesley Smith

Smith was one of Dakota Wesleyn’s 27 signees last week for the NAIA program. Players representing 12 states are in the signing class, with Smith the only player from the Southeast. The Tigers had a 6-5 record last year.

In his Southern career, Smith recorded 263 tackles, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and five blocked kicks. He was regarded as a defensive leader and versatile player for the Patriots. He’s tagged as a middle linebacker for Dakota Wesleyan.

“That’s where I played the most,” he said of his time at Southern. “Wherever they put me, I’m confident I can learn it.”

  • Southern’s Justin Dykes, a defensive back, is heading to Division III Greensboro College. He had a change of plans after previously announcing he would play for NAIA program St. Andrews in Laurinburg.
Justin Dykes
  • Also, Southern defensive back Myles Darroch participated in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl on January 29 at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played as a safety in that game, which was for high school seniors.

Darroch said he’s hoping to latch on with a college football program. He’s also a member of Southern’s boys’ basketball team and soon will be busy as a sprinter for the track and field team this spring.

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