JACKSON - The Jackson Touchdown Club has awarded scholarships to four metro-area football players, including Madison Central offensive lineman Maury Bland.

Bland was chosen for the honor by Madison Central football coach Bobby Hall. He said the criteria for the award - a leader in the classroom and on the playing field - made his selection an easy one.

"When I received the guidelines that the award recipient was supposed to meet, I think it took me five seconds to come up with the name Maury Bland," Hall said. "I have told people this before, but he may be the best leader I've had in 36 years in this business."

Bland was a standout for Madison Central's football team, and led the power-lifting team to a MHSAA 6A championship last month, but did not garner a scholarship offer from an FBS (formerly Division 1) school.

Instead, he has accepted an offer to play for former Madison Central offensive line coach Jamie Everett at Southwest Community College.

"When I heard Coach Hall say that about me, I just had to chuckle," Bland said. "It wasn't an arrogant kind of chuckle. It was the humbling kind. It wasn't always like this for me, and I just feel truly blessed to be in this situation."

The Jackson Touchdown Club - the oldest such club in Mississippi and one of the oldest in the Southeast - also awarded scholarships to Pearl wide receiver Brandon Williams, Brandon wide receiver and defensive back Josh Stowers and Northwest Rankin defensive end Reggie Harris at a press conference at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Tuesday.

"We have guest speakers, who are normally our coaches from the metro area and some college coaches," club president Tim Lowery said. "But we are really dedicated to promoting the kids and their accomplishments, and this is just one way we show our appreciation for the hard work they put in."