Warrior offensive lineman Gaylor to continue plowing the road at Huntingdon

Cherokee County High School senior offensive lineman Zack Gaylor (sitting) signed a football scholarship with Huntingdon College on Thursday in the high school gym. Standing from left is Warrior football coaches Garret Young, Caleb Hays, Bret Henderson, Shawn Turner, Jacob Kelley (head coach), Todd Wheeler, Brad Weaver and Terry Stephens. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Cherokee County High School senior offensive lineman Zack Gaylor was perfectly content not being in the spotlight. He knew Jacob Cornejo’s school-record 3,003 yards rushing and 36 touchdowns last season, as well as his 2,580 yards and 33 scores in 2022, were in part his success as well. He just went about his business, worked hard and never complained.

“Seeing Jacob run for all those yards, it really helps me feel comfortable knowing that I’m helping him,” Gaylor said. “Him being as great of a back as he is, it’s hard to do something with a bad offensive line. I feel like us having a good offensive line really helped. Seeing Jacob succeed really makes me feel like I succeeded as well.”

All those yards Gaylor helped Cornejo gain has now turned into something more.

The 6-foot-1, 270-pound Gaylor has received scholarship offers to and interest from schools such as Birmingham Southern, Delta State, Marist College and Berry College, but it was Huntingdon College in Montgomery that really stood out to him.

On Thursday morning, Gaylor signed with the Division III Hawks.

“I feel like that’s the best place for me to grow as a person and a player,” Gaylor said. “I visited a lot of schools at all division levels and junior colleges. Huntingdon has been recruiting me since the spring, and I just felt most wanted there. (Offensive line) Coach (Chael) Pridgen has been recruiting me really well for the past year now. I feel like every time I step on campus there it feels like home. I’m fired up for this next chapter and I feel like I’m going to love it.”

Warrior football coach Jacob Kelley is fired up for Gaylor as well. He said Gaylor did things the right way on and off the field and he’s glad to see him get rewarded.

“He embraced things as a young player,” Kelley said. “He’s been invaluable to what we’ve done here the last couple of years. He’s just grown into a tremendously good football player, a great looking kid, strong kid. I’m excited he’s got the opportunity to continue building on that.”

Kelley said the two-time Class 4A state runner-up Warriors (13-2 last season) utilized Gaylor’s talent in different ways throughout his career.

“When we went to our big package he was on the strong side and would just kind of road grade,” Kelley said. “He’s a great run blocker. He’s got really good feet. He snapped in middle school. He snapped a little bit as a freshman. He worked at guard some. At the next level he could really play all five positions up front. He’s going to be great for Huntingdon.”

Gaylor credits Kelley for developing him into the player he is today.

“He’s pushed me every day since I’ve been here, when I was a 210-pound freshman to what I am now,” Gaylor said. “I’m very grateful for it.

“This has been dream for me since I was a little kid. Ever since I started playing peewee football I wanted to play college football. I was going to do whatever it takes to get there, and here I am. It’s so surreal.”

Kelley said the Warriors are “going to miss him.”

“I wish they’d give him back for one more year because he was really, really fun to coach,” Kelley said. “Huntingdon is a great place for him. He had some great offers from a lot of different places, but he did what players are supposed to do, go out there and visit and see what is the best fit for him. He did his research, and he did it the right way. Huntingdon kept coming back around, and that’s a place he wanted to play. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

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