By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
It was the realization of a childhood dream this past weekend when Murfreesboro native JaCoby Stevens was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
The Oakland High alumnus was the 224th overall pick.
“We are obviously excited for JaCoby and his family,” Oakland Principal John Marshall said. “During his time here at Oakland, he was an excellent role model for other students. He represented his family and his school at the highest level in everything that he did in the classroom and on the field.”
Stevens, who primarily played safety in college for the LSU Tigers, is listed on the Eagles roster among a group of six safeties, but the team has a history of converting safeties to linebacker. Experts described Stevens as having played the safety position like a linebacker. Leading some to speculate the Eagles will ultimately transition Stevens to playing linebacker in the NFL.
He was among the team leaders who led the Tigers to a 15-0 record in 2019, including a decisive 42-25 win over Clemson to win the National Championship.
Three times that season, Stevens was a conference Defensive Player of the Week and named to the second-team All-SEC at season’s end.
Before signing with LSU — Stevens was initially recruited by Les Miles but ultimately played for Ed Orgeron — he was highly recruited by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Georgia and Oklahoma.
Following his senior season in high school, Stevens, who has already established himself as a five-star prospect and a Top 25 recruit, was selected as Tennessee’s Mr. Football.
“JaCoby is an outstanding young man,” Marshall said. “We are proud of him just as much as we have been proud of our previous former students who have gone on and competed in the NFL. An example would be Emmanuel and Josh Smith, who excellent representatives of Oakland High School, our community as they continue to represent us in the NFL.”
In Tweet following Stevens’ selection on Saturday, RCS Director of Schools and former Oakland principal Bill Spurlock wrote, “We were spoiled with all these great football players with impeccable character.”
In August 2016, when Stevens announced his commitment to LSU, Oakland football coach Kevin Creasy complimented Stevens’ dedication and work ethic.
“The attention he gets is well-deserved,” Creasy said at the time. “He worked for everything he’s gotten. He set goals and he’s accomplished them. He’s never missed a summer workout. He’s never missed a day in the weight room.”
Stevens, 22, is described by NFL scouts as coachable, mature for his age, versatile, does what is asked of him and was a highly respected leader.