Kelvin Stokes Jr. has a pretty good understanding of the college football recruiting world, at least to the extent you could expect from a 14-year-old whose father is a high school coach.
That exposure just increased dramatically, however, with his selection as the most valuable player of a recent all-star game for underclassmen.
The Millbrook Middle School star attended the National Underclassmen Combine All-American Game on Dec. 27-30 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and was selected as the Class of 2018’s most valuable player after recording eight tackles and a pair of sacks against a team comprised primarily of sophomores and juniors.
“It was real fun,” Stokes said. “I met a lot of good people from all around the United States, places like Florida and Georgia. There was one guy there from Michigan.
“I went to the first camp (combine) that was in Birmingham and then they invited me to the Ultimate 100 camp. We missed that camp in Texas and then we went to the All-American game. It’s been real fun, especially the game. It encouraged me, coming into high school, to know that I’ve played in an All-American game.”
The response was instant and overwhelming. He was selected to play in the NUC All-South Classic this weekend in Bradenton, Fla., along with the NUC Texas vs. the World Game on Feb. 21-23 in Dallas. Rivals has invited him to participate in a camp in March and Nike invited him to a summer football camp in June. In addition, he is expected to attend NUC’s Five-Star Camp this July.
“I feel like he’s prepared for it,” said his father Kelvin, the girls basketball coach at Stanhope Elmore. “Ever since he’s been able to talk, every time I asked him what his ultimate goal was, it was to be an All-American. That’s what we always dreamed of. Now that he has that stamp on it, he’s always been prepared for it. It’s not like it just happened. I don’t think the hype will get to him.
“He’s already been invited (to their All-South Classic), he’s already been nominated to be one of the top 25 in the nation, so it carries a whole lot of weight. He’s looking forward to it. His ultimate goal is to get (named) to the Rivals 250 and this is set up for that.”
Stokes is working on getting his name out to the recruiting sites, but he’s no secret to football fans in Millbrook. He is expected to compete for a starting job as a Stanhope Elmore defensive end this fall.
“He’s in our junior high program and does a good job,” Stanhope Elmore coach Jeff Foshee said. “He’s one of our young guys who really has a chance to be special. He’s long, he’s athletic, and he’s a good kid who works hard at it.”
The elder Stokes was an accomplished defensive player as well, playing defensive end (and some outside linebacker) at Sidney Lanier in 1990 and 1991 before moving to Carver in 1992. He went to junior college out of high school, then made his way to Alabama State where he played tight end for the Hornets.
“The thing is I didn’t go to camps,” Kelvin Sr. said, “and now you can go to position camps. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have that. But I just tell him not to be overwhelmed by it, just be grateful and humble at the same time. Don’t let all the hoopla penetrate the things you need to do, which is to honor Christ, your education and your academics. Make sure you’re selfless, not selfish.”
The younger Stokes also has worked out with his cousin Reginald, who played at G.W. Carver in the mid-2000s before earning a scholarship to UCLA. The guidance has him prepared for the onslaught of recruiting that is starting to heat up. For example, while he grew up an Alabama fan, he is wise enough to say he is interested in playing for either Alabama or crossstate rival Auburn, knowing it’s too soon to close any doors on recruiters.
“I think it’ll be a fun experience, knowing that they want to get me,” he said of the recruiting process. “It makes me seem important.”
For now, the most important aspect is to keep it all in perspective.
“My goal is to do well in school and to get bigger in the weight room and faster,” he said. “And stronger, because I’ll be facing tougher competition next fall.”