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Central duo signs with JUCO in New York

TUSCALOOSA | National Signing Day came and went in February, but Keshawn Watkins and Malik Duffey didn’t give up hope that they could play college football.

Watkins and Duffey, seniors at Central High School, recently signed to play for Globe Institute of Technology, a junior college in New York City.

"I’m taking this opportunity as a learning experience and, hopefully, come back a better person than what I am now," Watkins said.

Watkins, 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, was an offensive and defensive lineman for Central coach Dennis Conner.

Watkins, who’s never been to New York, said he heard the Globe campus is eight blocks from Times Square.

"I would definitely like to go to a four-year school after my two years at Globe," Watkins said. "If not, I’m still going to be happy with the degree I’m getting. Wherever the coaches put me, I’m going to work hard at it.

"I do appreciate the people that have supported me."

Duffey (6-0, 283) also saw action as an offensive and defensive lineman.

"It’s been messing with my nerves for quite a while now, and now that it’s done it’s still messing with my nerves," Duffey said. "But it’s an opportunity that God gave me, and I’m just going to take advantage of it.

"If I didn’t get into a college playing football, then I was going to do a couple of years at a culinary school. I had a backup plan always."

Both players said they want to major in health care management.

"I talked to Keshawn about it, and I told him if that’s the only college looking at you, then we might as well go together rather than one of us going up there and the other one staying down here," Duffey said. "It’s a possibility for me to go to a bigger college after these two years because I’m just on a mission. When I reach my goal and complete that mission, my family, my coaches in the past, my future coaches, they’ll be happy for me."

Conner said that the Mississippi junior colleges put restrictions on the number of out-of-state recruits, limiting the opportunities for players in Alabama.

"They both gave me a lot of leadership and hard work and determination," Conner said. "It’s a big chance for them to play and also to see another part of the country. I have never been to New York myself, so it’s a great opportunity for these young men and their families to experience a couple of years in New York.

"The coach up there already had one kid on his team from Birmingham. He said he wanted to get a couple of more kids from the state of Alabama. He gave me a call, I sent him some films and he said he liked both of them. The coach said he doesn’t over-recruit. He recruits players to play now. It’s just a matter of them sticking with it, taking these two years and getting them over and done with. They’re going to fly by just the same way these two and three years here flew by."


Reach Andrew Carroll at or at 205-722-0223.