By Harrison Tarr
For the Observer
Photo by Robert Noles
National signing day is full of excitement for recruits, their families and the communities which these athletes represent; as has become customary, fans of Opelika High School were given the opportunity to celebrate the achievements Jarell Stinson and Taylor Love when the duo inked their national letters of intent to play football at the collegiate level.
Stinson, a 24/7 sports three-star corner, has finally sealed the deal on his commitment to the University of Mississippi after verbally announcing his decision to join the Lane Kiffin-led Rebels on Sept. 29.
The standout defensive back says making the move to Ole Miss was an easy decision.
“They made me feel like I was family when I went down there,” Stinson said. “It’s just amazing going down there so I feel like that’s the reason I’m going there.”
Although Stinson is a corner by nature who is certain to contribute to a developing Ole Miss defense, the Opelika standout claims that Kiffin has plans to work him in on both sides of the ball.
“Right now they’ve got me playing defense,” Stinson said. “But I talked to (Kiffin) the other day and he said something about playing some offense. That would be a great opportunity playing for a Lane Kiffin offense.”
Since taking the reins at Ole Miss, Kiffin has developed a renowned offense and escorted the program to previously unseen heights with its first-ever 10-win season. Stinson believes that the state of the program makes now the perfect time to ‘come to the ‘Sip.’
“I’m coming in at the right time,” Stinson said. “I feel like I’m coming in at the perfect time. When I get there, we can keep increasing what we’re doing on the field and I feel like we could have a really good team.”
With the next chapter of his athletic career officially underway, Stinson looks back on his time at Opelika with appreciation.
“Being at Opelika prepared me for things like this,” Stinson said. “Prepared me for the big days, there’s no pressure. It’s been great being here.”
Tulane made a big splash when it received a commitment from Love, a 24/7 sports 3-star linebacker on Nov. 13; the Green Wave was certainly thrilled to have seen him ink his NLI on Wednesday.
Love is anxious to get to New Orleans.
“I’m ready to get to Tulane and work,” Love said. “I’m getting ready for the next level.”
The linebacker’s decision to join the Green Wave defense was based — in large — upon the connections made with coaches and the positive environment for Love and his family.
“They showed me love,” Love said. “Just the environment I want to be around and put my family around.”
According to Love, his first visit on campus was exactly what he wanted it to be: good vibes and great food.
“When I first got to campus, it was what I thought it would be,” Love said. “I fit the culture. I like the culture down there; they’ve got good food.”
As far as his on-field mindset goes, Love is prepared to mold his game to fit whatever brand of defense will be most helpful to the success of the Wave.
“Any way they want me to help them,” Love said. “If I need to do something different on defense to help them win, I’ll do it. I’m just that type of player to help the team out.”
When it comes to reflecting on his time at Opelika, Love is grateful to be prepared for competing in the biggest moments at the highest level.
“Opelika prepared me for moments like this,” Love said. “Interviews, big games. We play big games every year so it’ll teach you how to play in big games and practice for big games.”