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Drake, Ragland, Kelly, Engram: Four friends, two teams, one game

Cedric Mason- Touchdown Alabama Magazine

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

Honestly, what does Robert Frost have to do with football? Initially nothing, unless one takes this week’s game into consideration. A lot is at stake for Alabama and Ole Miss.

For the Rebels, it’s an opportunity to finally get over the hump and arrive as a force to be reckon with. As for Alabama, Saturday’s matchup can help it reclaim its edge as one of the more physical teams nationally. Of all the storylines that exist, one hasn’t been mentioned.

Four good friends will suit up against each other at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It will be Alabama’s Kenyan Drake and Reggie Ragland against Mississippi’s Evan Engram and Chad Kelly.

Drake and Engram both hail from Powder Springs, Ga.

The two received an education and played football at Hillgrove High School. Drake excelled as an all-purpose athlete, while Engram settled in on honing his skills at tight end. In 2011, Drake totaled 1,610 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns on 175 carries.

He averaged 9.2 yards per carry, and totaled five touchdown receptions with two kick returns for scores. Engram caught 18 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns in the same year. Hillgrove reached an 11-1 mark, advancing into the second round of the playoffs.

Drake enrolled at Alabama in 2012 as a four-star athlete, while Engram was tabbed a three-star in 2013 upon his arrival to Oxford, Miss.

Chad Kelly, nephew of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, was recruited by Alabama in high school and after his dismissal from Clemson. Kelly attended East Mississippi Community College in 2014 and became a marquee name, totaling 3,906 passing yards with 46 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Kelly was back on the market after winning a National Junior College Athletics Association championship.

He enrolled at Ole Miss in January 2015, and has been on a tear at quarterback. Kelly’s completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 557 yards with six touchdowns and an interception.

According to Michael Cassagrande of AL.com, Kelly visited Alabama often, while he was playing at East Mississippi. He formed a friendship with Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland. The two first met at an Under Armour All-American game and The Opening in 2012.

Both guys have stayed in good contact with each other and Kelly said per Cassagrande “that he is looking forward to facing Ragland” Saturday.

Bryant-Denny Stadium will look to provide a hostile environment for Mississippi, yet it will be interesting to see four familiar faces get reacquainted under the lights in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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