PREP FOOTBALL: Cullman’s Sullins signs with Navy

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Cullman running back Jayden Sullins signs his national letter of intent to play for the Navy Midshipmen with his Father, Jeffrey Sullins (left) and Mother Angela Sullins (right) at Cullman High School Friday morning. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – After several standout years on the gridiron, Bearcat running back Jayden Sullins is heading to Annapolis, Maryland to continue his playing career at the U.S. Naval Academy. Sullins officially signed his national letter of intent in December but was joined by friends, family, teammates and coaches for a signing ceremony in Cullman High School’s Tillman Hall Friday morning.  

Sullins racked up 3,685 total yards and 28 touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball during his Bearcat career while also having a role in some defensive packages and serving as the kick returner and punt returner on special teams. He earned a spot on this year’s 6A All-State second team as an athlete after receiving an All-State honorable mention at the same position in 2018. Jayden is also a four-year letterman on the Cullman High School Varsity Basketball Team.

Jayden has been committed to the Midshipmen for some time and grew to love both the campus and the coaching staff during the recruiting process.

“When I got there, obviously the campus was beautiful with the set up and the scenery. It’s on the bay and its beautiful but not only that, the coaches just showed love for me and they stuck with me the whole time,” Sullins said. “They always talk about it how it’s more than football there, it’s about your life and developing you as a person.”

He’s obviously excited to compete at the next level but Sullins knows that he will miss his teammates and friends that he’s shared so much time with at Cullman High School, thanking them for helping him reach this point.

“I’ll miss being with my teammates. They helped me get to this point and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t even be here right now,” Sullins said. “I’ll miss all the practices and the games because there’s just nothing like a Friday night with them.”

Playing college football has always been a goal for Jayden but he’s also thought about military service so playing football at the Naval Academy gives him a unique chance to achieve both of those goals.

“I’m just looking forward to getting better as a player and getting to play on TV, which has always been a dream for me since I was a kid, and for that to finally come true is just amazing,” Sullins said. “I’ve always been interested in the military too so that just all kind of fell into place.”

Cullman Head Football Coach Oscar Glasscock got to know Jayden very well in his first season with the Bearcats and on top of his talent, he saw the drive and motivation that Sullins had to play at the next level.  

“I think the number one thing for Jayden is that he was highly motivated to play college football. He did extra work and did the extra things that it takes to sign division one. I think a lot of kids come through and talk about wanting to play college athletics but don’t really know what it takes as far as doing the extra things and I think probably from day one when he got here to Cullman he worked extra hard and went beyond the minimal. You can see the results of a lot of that today.”

It takes a certain type of player to be recruited by the U.S. Naval Academy and Glasscock knew that it was Jayden’s attitude and character that would make him stand out to the Midshipmen during the recruiting process.

“The Naval Academy is a “fit” type pf place and they were sold on Jayden when their coaching staff came down to visit. They talked to him and it was his personality that put him over the top,” Glasscock said. “There’s a lot of great prospects out there and there’s such a small difference between them but his character, his personality, his ability to get along well with others, meet new people and all those types of things are what the academy is looking for.”

Playing college football is an achievement regardless of where you sign but getting the opportunity to play at one of the service academies in something Glasscock sees as an invaluable experience.

“To me, this is the best of the best, the top of the top. You’re talking about an education that’s worth $100,000 a year and these guys that graduate from the academy are really set with anything they want to do. It’s just an amazing place and what sold Jayden and a lot of recruits once they visit there, is they’re just blown away,” Glasscock said. “The coaching staff is a staff I’m very familiar with. I’ve visited there several times and they’re very much like a high school staff. They really care about the development of the kids and they have to develop guys academically, leadership-wise, athletically and they can’t just go out and get transfers. They have to invest in the kids so it’s going to be a great experience for Jayden.”

Jayden’s Navy football career will get started next fall, but his Cullman basketball career isn’t quite over yet. Sullins and the Bearcats will hit the floor tonight at Hartselle to take on the Tigers.

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