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Former James Clemens star player Monty Rice, No. 32, led the group of local players in their play to open the 2019 college and professional football seasons. Rice, No. 32, was the top tackler for the Georgia Bulldogs in their win over Vanderbilt. Photo- Georgia Athletics

Former Local High School Football Players’ Updates

MADISON- Former high school football players from the local schools are now into their 2019 season of play with some having outstanding results while others having to pack their bags and exit their choice of sport.

For the Alabama Crimson Tide, former James Clemens All-State performer Labryan Ray helped the second-ranked Tide to a 42-3 victory over the Duke Blue Devils to open the 2019 season. Starting at right defensive end, the 6-foot-5, 292-pound Ray posted one solo tackle and one assist for the Tide’s defense, which allowed just 204 yards of offense from the ACC school.

Meanwhile, former Bob Jones players Kendall Randolph and Mike Bernier did not see any playing time for Alabama in the season opener. The 6-4, 296 redshirt sophomore Randolph is listed as third on the depth chart at right offensive guard. Bernier is the backup punter as a senior.

The football talent from James Clemens also includes two defensive players who are playing outside the state of Alabama. Linebacker Monty Rice (6-1, 235) was tops on the Georgia defense posting four tackles and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 30-6 victory over Vanderbilt. The junior was the team’s third leading tackler a season ago despite missing five games due to injury.

Rice’s former James Clemens teammate Kyriq McDonald played his first game with the Cincinnati Bearcats after transferring from Alabama. The 6-0, 202 redshirt sophomore had one tackle in Cincinnati’s 24-14 win over UCLA. The former four-star recruit played sparingly for Alabama at defensive back and on special teams before deciding to enter the transfer portal in early February. He received numerous offers from some big-name football programs, but chose Cincinnati.

The Chip Lindsey era began at Troy as the first-year head coach for the Trojans led his squad to a 43-14 victory over Campbell University marking the first season opening win since 2016. The former Bob Jones athlete came to the Trojans after three seasons as offensive coordinator at Auburn. Lindsey became the first Troy coach to win his debut since Robert Maddox in 1988.

“I appreciate everyone being here, and I’m glad we got the win as I was a little bit worried with how we would respond after a long delay (74-minute weather),” said Lindsey after his first victory. “I was really pleased with how we played in the second half. I liked how we tried to take control of the game up front and win the line of scrimmage.”

In the professional ranks, good and bad news on the home front. First, the good news.

Former Bob Jones star player Reggie Ragland will start at middle linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs to open the 2019 campaign. Ragland played at Alabama and was an All-American performer and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Draft. Last season, Ragland signed with the Chiefs and proved his worth with an outstanding 2018 season.

Not so good news for former Madison Academy wide receiver Jordan Matthews as the 6-3, 215 pass catcher was released by the San Francisco 49ers to make the team’s 53-player limit. The five-year NFL veteran signed with the NFL’s West Coast team earlier this year after playing with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 where he played in 14 games and had 20 receptions for 300 yards.

Matthews, who played at Vanderbilt in college, was thought to have a great shot at making the 49ers’ roster, but the team had an abundant amount of wide receivers within their grasp. Some speculate Matthews could possibly return as two of the team’s wide receivers are nursing injuries.

One additional note of interest is the fact Rolando McClain, who once lived in Madison, can officially return to the NFL. He was reinstated by the league and is free to sign with a team should one want his talents. The one-time All-State player at nearby Decatur High and All-American at Alabama, has not played a down in the NFL since 2015 when he played middle linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. He was suspended indefinitely in 2016 for repeated failed drug tests.

McClain is now living in the Tuscaloosa area and has been working out at the University where he made a name for himself playing for head coach Nick Saban. McClain’s repeated troubles with the law actually led to his decision to retire in 2013 at age 23. He came back twice and joined the Cowboys in 2014 where he played in 24 games over two seasons.

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