Recruiting Roundup: Springfield Central


Over the last five years, few programs have made bigger gains that Springfield Central.

Since 2018, the Golden Eagles have won two Division 3 state titles, and a Div. 1 crown in 2021. Last year, Central made the D1 title game again but lost to St. John’s Prep at Gillette.

Many of the contributors to that success have moved on to their college careers. The members of the class of 2023 were probably the most decorated in WMass history.

Without question, those players, led by quarterback William Watson, who is now at Virginia Tech, will not be easily replaced. But coach Bill Watson has a strong group of players ready to carry on the tradition.

So we will take a look at the next group of Central stars in this week’s Recruiting Roundup.

First, we wanted to break down the class of 2024 contributors.

— Jaylon Hebert, CB, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds

Bill Watson: “Good kid. Got good size. Does a good job in the weight room. Had a good season last year. He’s getting some Ivy looks now. We’ve got a couple of schools hanging around who want to see him this summer, see how he runs. I believe he’ll be a Division 1 kid, between FBS and FCS.”

— Noah Carter, CB, 5-10, 165

Watson: “Noah’s another corner. He’s getting some Division 1 interest as well. He’s been to BC, UMass. He’s a very fast kid. I don’t know if he’s as tall as Jaylon, but he may be a little faster than him. Great athleticism, and he had a good season as well last year.”

— Jaykelis Algarin, WR, 5-8, 165

Watson: “Slot receiver, plays the other side opposite Mattias (Barbour). Same build as Mattias. Another kid that runs well. He’s shifty, good hands. Made some plays for us last year. He’s a senior this year, so we expect him to take it to another level, be a playmaker for us.”

On to the 2025 class, the Golden Eagles have a ton of talent there.

— Dwayne Early, WR, 6-4, 192

Watson: “He’s doing real good. He’s having a good offseason. He’s been playing basketball, but he’s still been working out throughout the whole basketball season. He’s been lifting weights, and he’s running track now. So that should help his speed. Last year he did a good job in the short, intermediate game. I think the next step for him will be to become a good deep ball receiver, and start using his size a little bit more. He’s very physical off the line of scrimmage. Definitely not afraid to mix it up. Real good blocker. Like I said, he’s good in the short game, intermediate, as far as route running, but he has the athleticism and speed to be a deep guy, so that’s what we want to try to unleash this year. We want to get him down the field and make some explosive plays. He has all the physical tools that a lot of schools are looking for. That’s why he got the early offer from Pitt. I’m sure he’ll have some more offers through the summer at the one-day camps where he performs.”

— Dom Rijos, OL, 6-3, 290

Watson: “Dom started for us last year as a 10th grader. He’s got good size. He’s a kid that has tremendous strength, power. Runs pretty good for his size as well. He’s a young 10th grader If he can grow another two inches, I think he’ll definitely be an FBS kid. If he doesn’t he could definitely go FBS or FCS. We expect big things out of him and Khaji Charles this year as far as leading the way up front.”

— Khaji Charles, OL, 6-1, 265

Watson: “Khaji been starting since Day 1 of his freshman year. He’s played in every high school game since he got to the school. Very mature kid. Very sound technique. As a leader up front, a leader of the team, one of the leaders of the team. He’ll be at the point of attack a lot.”

— Shaun’Dez Buckhannon, S, 5-9, 165

Watson: “He had a nice postseason. He led the team in interceptions last year as a sophomore. He was a running back his freshman year. He’s a real smart kid. He’s an excellent, excellent football player. He has very good natural instincts. He’s been contributing since his freshman year. He ran for a touchdown as a freshman against Central Catholic. He did some work on special teams as a freshman as well. He’ll be returning as a safety for us as well.”

— Mattias Barbour, ATH/WR/slot, 5-9, 170

Watson: “Mattias really jumped on the scene as a freshman in the postseason. He had an excellent postseason as a freshman. It just carried on until last season. He’s been doing a great job for us.

“He’s a hard worker. He’s one of the faster kids on the team. Very quick, shifty. He’s a kid that you love to coach, very coachable. He’s got a great demeanor and a great attitude, the way he carries himself as a football player. He’s going to be a tremendous football player for us the next two years. He did a great job for us the first two years as a freshman and sophomore. But now, I expect him to take it up another level.”

— Kyle Pickering, H-back, 6-0, 230

Watson: “He has great hands, and he brings some physicality over to the offensive side, which I feel like we needed.”

— Cam Walter, WR, 6-5, 190

Watson: “Cam is our biggest receiver. He’s a little over 6-5. He’s a great deep ball guy. Our biggest thing right now is we’re working his speed so he can get a little more separation on his routes. He’s a kid that has a lot of the tools you’re looking for at the next level. I’m sure he’ll continue playing after high school.”

— Jack Casey, MLB, 6-1, 225

Watson: “This is the first year he really got to lift, because he had a shoulder injury last year that he was playing through in the offseason. He’s probably in the best shape he’s ever been in. A very physical kid. Always mixing it up. Right now, he’s working on his strength and power, but also his speed and make sure he has the ability to play sideline to sideline. We feel confident that he’s another scholarship kid when all is said and done. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started pulling some out this year.”

— Donte King, DL, 6-2, 245

Watson: “Probably one of our more talented defensive lineman coming back this year. He did a very good job for us last season. He did a great job rushing the quarterback. That’s kind of where he stands out. We want to make sure he does better against the run. When we say that, we mean just maintaining his gap. He got a trendency some time last year rto try to chase the football and come out of his gap and not be able to defend cutbacks and stuff like that. I think we’ll coach him up this year and he will be a dominant force for us and one of the better players on our defense.”

— Josiah Monday, CB, 6-0, 155

Watson: “He had an interception in the state championship game. A very good athlete, fast. He’s got some good instincts. He’s a guy we expect to do a lot of good things for us.”

— Jayden White, OL, 6-4, 270

Watson: “He did not start for us last year, but did a good job when he played. I think he developed a lot. He’s doing an excellent job in the weight room right now. He’s looking very big. When the season comes, we can’t wait to get him in pads and see what he brings to the table. He’s a kid we think is going to have a good season.”

— Jayden Polk, LB, 6-0, 180

Watson: “He’s built a lot different than Jack Casey. He’s smaller, faster, covers a lot of space.  Good blitzer, can cover out of the backfield. When he’s gotten the opportunities, he’s done a good job. With more reps, we expect a lot of production out of him.”

— JaCyion Cox, RB, 5-9, 180

Watson: “He’s a kid, he’s playing baseball right now. He came in, he’s a running back. He looks like a good athlete. He plays a little 7-on-7 as well. I know last year we played against him. He was on Chicopee Comp’s offense. I didn’t see him a lot because I was sort of focused on our offense and their defense. He looks like he’s a very athletic kid. He’s got a great attitude about life, not only football, but about life. Haven’t heard anything but good things about him. Looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table. Very good student as well.”