Newberry, BBQ, Cousins & College Football

Cousins land small town west of Gainesville on recruiting radars

For all the schools never to produce a single major college football player, consider this: Newberry High, a Class 1A team, has three reporting multiple FBS scholarship offers.

All three are 6-foot-4.

All three play defensive line.

All three are cousins.

No kidding.

Newberry, a shovel pass west of Gainesville, is home to tasty BBQ and an annual Watermelon Festival, among other things. The cousins and college recruits – Cory Durden, Malik Neal and Ja’len Parks – will vouch for the BBQ, but also recommend you
try the seafood.

Durden and Parks, who say “we’re cousins, but we’re more like brothers,” are dominating defensive tackles with amazing quickness and size. They’re only juniors, but former Newberry coach Kepa Sarduy said, “They’re ready for college now.” Parks (6-4, 290 pounds) is verbally committed to Florida State, but like with most pledges these days, it’s essentially a placeholder. Besides, there’s plenty of time for young minds to wander over the next year. The earliest FSU can officially lock up Parks’ signature is Feb. 1, 2017.

“I’m committed, but my options are open,” said Parks, the No. 9 defensive tackle in the country in’s composite rankings. “There’s nothing set in stone or anything like that. I just want to see what else is out there and may take a few trips.”

Despite matching offers from Florida, Miami and countless others, Newberry’s DT duo is Florida State’s to lose.

“I’m keeping my options open, too, but Florida State is my favorite,” said Durden (6-4, 283), the No. 25 defensive tackle in the nation. “Alabama would be an interesting offer, but Florida State is like a family atmosphere for me.”

Durden said several family members have attended FSU, but said he doesn’t expect another relative, Malik Neal, to study the Tomahawk Chop in college. Neal (6-4, 210) hasn’t been offered by the ‘Noles, but he has plenty of top colleges to choose from with offers from Colorado, Oregon State, South Florida, Troy, Utah and Western Kentucky.

“I don’t want to commit too early, just so I can see what’s all is out there,” Neal said.

Not that all people in small towns are related, but this is not the first time Newberry produced talented relatives. It is home to former Florida Gators Mike and Ricky Nattiel and Edwin
and Keith Ross as well.

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