What’s behind Fairfield football’s hot streak: 2 straight NFL drafts, 2 picks

FILE - In this Dec. 28, 2019, file photo, Clemson offensive tackle Jackson Carman (79) looks to block during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. The Cincinnati Bengals got some help for their offensive line Friday night, taking Carman with their second-round pick in the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 28, 2019, file photo, Clemson offensive tackle Jackson Carman (79) looks to block during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. The Cincinnati Bengals got some help for their offensive line Friday night, taking Carman with their second-round pick in the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri, File)

Credit: Rick Scuteri

Credit: Rick Scuteri

Coach Krause is loving seeing former players make it to the pro level.

Fairfield High School has enjoyed a nice run of sending players to college football programs, including some major Division I recruits in the past five years.

Now, the Indians are experiencing a new trend. For the second year in a row, they’ve had a former player get drafted to the NFL.

Former Michigan State cornerback Josiah Scott was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, and the Bengals made former Clemson left tackle Jackson Carman their second-round pick (No. 46 overall) this year.

“Obviously, one of the goals of mine as a coach is to be able to provide guys with a college education and use football as an avenue, but to see them take it to the next level is icing on the cake,” Fairfield football coach Jason Krause said. “It’s hard to expect that, but when it happens it’s amazing.”

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Krause was aware of only one other Fairfield High product to be drafted to the NFL before Scott and Carman. Former Purdue quarterback Craig Nagel was picked by the Cleveland Browns in the ninth round of the 1976 draft and later played in Canada.

Fairfield defensive back Josiah Scott breaks up a pass intended for Elder wide receiver Nick Hall during their Division I playoff game Nov. 7, 2015, at The Pit in Cincinnati. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Fairfield defensive back Josiah Scott breaks up a pass intended for Elder wide receiver Nick Hall during their Division I playoff game Nov. 7, 2015, at The Pit in Cincinnati. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Scott was a three-time All-Greater Miami Conference player at Fairfield who enjoyed immediate success with the Spartans upon his arrival in 2017. He elected to forgo his senior year to enter the draft and ended up playing six games as a rookie last with, although with limited snaps on defense.

His draft experience was much different from Carman’s as the pandemic was still in the early stages when Scott was celebrating his moment at home with his family. Krause said he got a chance right away to FaceTime with Scott and enjoyed the chance to share in his excitement in that way.

With the COVID-19 cases declining now, Carman, a backup on Clemson’s 2018 national championship team as a true freshman, was able to have a big draft party at Krause’s house with his family and former teammates. Scott flew in from Jacksonville just for the party Friday.

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life for sure,” Krause said. “Obviously, my children and marriage and all that stuff are at the top, but that goes on the list as one of those special moments in my life. To be able to share that with him and a lot of his teammates makes you feel how special we’ve made Fairfield football and how close we remained. Those were the guys he wanted to be with on that special day. It makes you feel good, more than words can describe.”

Fairfield offensive lineman Jackson Carman (left) takes out a Northmont defender. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF FILE
Fairfield offensive lineman Jackson Carman (left) takes out a Northmont defender. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF FILE

Malik Vann, a defensive lineman at the University of Cincinnati who was in Carman’s class, also attended the party, heading straight there after his graduation ceremony. He arrived just as Carman was getting his draft call from the Bengals.

Scott, Carman and Vann, along with other teammates, have remained close while in different parts of the country.

“It was a great moment, just watching him having his dreams come true, one of the best dreams ever,” Vann said. “It was a good thing to watch how happy him and his family were. All of us still talk to each other all the time, shooting random texts checking in on each other. Just being with each other every day (in high school), you grow close and some of the things we have to do, like conditioning, taking severe losses like (2016 and 2017) against St. Xavier in playoffs or Colerain after playing a good game and them running away with it -- it made us closer. When I messed up my knee sophomore year (at UC), they (Scott and Carman) were both there checking on my rehab.”

Now those in the Fairfield community already are joking about who will be next to get drafted.

Vann has two more years of eligibility to build his draft stock at UC, but there are others also at Division I college programs that could have a chance in the next two years, such as Jutahn McClain, who will be a sophomore running back at Kentucky this fall, and Erick All, a junior tight end at Michigan.

“I hope I have a good enough season to where I don’t need my fifth year of eligibility, but it’s my goal to follow in their footsteps and get drafted,” Vann said.

Krause said he doesn’t speak to his players now about goals to play in the NFL, but it’s good for them to see guys from the program achieve that dream.

“It’s a lofty goal for any high school kid but moreso we talk about just going to college, whether it’s Division II or NAIA and Josiah and Jackson are a great example of that,” Krause said. “Just to have guys in the league our guys can see it can be done, that it is possible you can play this game for a living, but you can’t take it for granted. You have to take advantage of the opportunity you’ve been blessed with, be proud you have a chance to play a game you love.”

With Carman joining the Bengals, there’s an example right there in front of them. Carman started his last 27 games at Clemson, protecting No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, and now will be moving to guard with the Bengals.

“For the whole Fairfield community, there’s a sense of pride he’s right in our backyard, that the Bengals thought that much of him to take him in the second round,” Krause said. “ I’m super proud of both of those guys and look forward to following their careers and what they do.”