Part of a 21-freshmen recruiting class, the only recruit from Florida

 

As a lineman with the Port St. Joe Tiger Sharks, Alvin “3D” Dempsey often times toiled on the fringes of the spotlight.

Though a dominating, disruptive presence on defense, four times all-district and three times all-state, Dempsey’s work in the trenches could sometimes be overlooked.

Except by coaches or his teammates or college recruiters lured by the motor and passion within the 6-foot-1, 285-pound frame.

During National Signing Day last week, Demspey hitched a ride to East Central Mississippi Community College with a step to a four-year program lurking on the horizon.

“What a special day it is for us when one of our kids gets a chance to continue his education,” said former Coach John Palmer. “He’s a leader and a great kid to coach.”

Dempsey is a three-sport letterman, in the frontcourt of the boys’ basketball team and a state qualifier in weightlifting his junior season with his senior year yet to come.

Along with running back Jasmin Thomas, he played in 13 playoff football games during his high school career, including two trips to the state Class 1A title game and one title.

Palmer noted the 13 playoff games surely is a school record.

So, no surprise, Dempsey had choices, with inquiries from a host of two-year schools, in Kansas, Mississippi and Iowa among others.

Several four-year programs, including Virginia and Murray State, kept in touch, encouraging Demspey to boost his grades (2.3 GPA) and grow as a player and see what happens in two years.

Dempsey, who was part of a 21-strong signing class by East Central, all of them high school seniors, will play defensive tackle.

He was the school’s lone recruit from Florida and one of just two from outside of the state of Mississippi.

The trip to Decatur, MS and the home of the Warriors tipped the scales.

For starters, he and Port St. Joe assistant Tyler Sizemore visited on Thursday, which happened to be fried chicken day at lunch; several relatives spoke last week of Dempsey’s prodigious appetite.

In addition, the meeting with the football and school staff and administrators was of such a tenor that by the end of the session, Demspey was hugging the school president.

“They loved 3D,” Sizemore said. “Afterward his position coach came up to me and said, ‘We love 3D.’

“3D’s going to be in good hands.”

In turn, Dempsey said the rural community and campus suited him just fine.

“It felt like home, like Port St. Joe,” Dempsey said. “I felt it was the best fit.”

Sizemore’s description of the trip to Decatur was no great surprise to those who know Dempsey, a young man with the kind of personality and presence that draws and, in most any case with 3D, embraces others.

The kid is a hugger, not matter who you are.

“He’s a great kid,” said Principal Josh Dailey, who also coached Dempsey for years and tossed around words such as “character” and “role model” in describing Dempsey.

“When he walks in a room he lights it up. He is just a great all around person.”

Demspey had 76 tackles, fourth on the team, as a senior, including 29 solo tackles, nine sacks and a team-leading 20 tackles-for-loss.

He also caused two fumbles and blocked a punt.

As a junior, he had 42 tackles, five sacks and seven tackles-for-loss.