During this recruiting cycle, Lanett quarterback Kristian Story and Opelika safety Jaylen Stinson are two of the local players garnering the most attention. As it turns out, their younger brothers are already on track to do the same.
Rising sophomores Caden Story and Jarell Stinson have picked up their first scholarship offers over the past few weeks. Caden received an offer from Maryland on May 18, while Jarell picked up offers from Troy and Duke on June 7 and 8.
Caden, who backed up his brother at quarterback last season, is already drawing attention thanks to a recent growth spurt. The youngest of the three Story brothers, Caden was 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds this time last year; now, he stands 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds.
It didn’t take long for the Maryland coaches to offer Caden, who is projected to continue growing to somewhere between 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8. Since then, Lanett head coach Clifford Story — Caden's father — said he has secured camp invitations to Alabama, Clemson, Troy and UAB.
For the youngest Story, Maryland’s offer was hard to comprehend.
“I was amazed. I had been waiting for that day for a long time,” Caden said. “It was a dream come true because I wanted to play college football all my life.”
Thanks to Caden's newfound size, his father said he plans to play his son at tight end and at defensive end in addition to backing up his older brother. Clifford talked up Caden’s hands and said a major focus for the sophomore going forward is growing on the mental side of his game.
Kristian is in the midst of choosing between Texas A&M and Alabama in his own recruitment. While he’s busy making his own decisions, he’s excited to see his younger brother getting looks of his own.
“Seeing my brother getting offers — and if he'll continue to work he'll go to school for free — is just great. I know he's working, too,” Kristian said. “He saw (our eldest brother Trey and I) working hard, so now he wants to do it and do the same the same things we're doing. I'm happy to see it paying off for him.”
Like the Story brothers, the Stinsons have come of age together and have quickly drawn the attention of college coaches. It started with Jaylen, but Jarell joined in after picking up his two offers.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound younger Stinson took the big moments in stride as he prepares for his sophomore season.
“I was very excited to see that all the hard work I was putting in was paying off,” Jarell said.
Opelika head coach Erik Speakman said Jarell is a lot like his brother — who has 12 scholarship offers — and also has a slight height advantage compared to him. Speakman predicted Jarell will turn a lot of heads in his sophomore year, and the Bulldogs coach said they will use him as a backup strong safety and in different aspects offensively.
Jaylen has made countless plays for Opelika since coming up as a freshman, and Speakman believes Jarell is capable of doing the same.
“I think what (Jarell) does for people is just like what Jaylen does — if he touches the ball, he's got the speed to where he can make a big play,” Speakman said. “Anybody who watches his highlight film from eighth or ninth grade, they'll see he's a kid that knows how to play the game.”
Jarell said following his older brother has made the recruiting process easier given he has been able to watch how it works. For Jaylen, seeing his younger brother get attention has been a joy and also a chance to give some helpful advice.
“He's been putting in the hard work with me, and it's starting to pay off for him as well,” Jaylen said. “I just told him, 'Don't let the recruiting take you off the path of working. You've always got a team back home.'”