Nassau County is known for its wide beaches, majestic waterways and rich history.
Now, Nassau County will be known for its homegrown athletes.
With Yulee’s Derrick Henry receiving the most illustrious award in college football this weekend, our area has earned a lofty status. Henry, a running back for the University of Alabama, topped two other ultra-qualified candidates to win the Heisman Trophy.
At Yulee, Henry Set National Rushing Record
Henry is familiar with records and awards. While at Yulee High School, Henry set the all-time national rushing record. He topped the previous record for high school rushing yardage held since the 1950s by a Texas athlete. And in addition to the Heisman, Henry recently won the Maxwell Trophy as the player of the year and the Doak Walker Award as the top running back.
Henry will likely enter the National Football League draft after this season, since he is projected to be a first- or second-round pick. This would earn Henry a substantial multi-million-dollar contract.
D.J. Stewart: First Round Draft Pick, Baseball
But there is more to this story. Another local athlete who competed with Henry in their early days recently hit the jackpot in another sport.
D.J. Stewart was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Stewart is from Fernandina Beach and played baseball here before transferring to The Bolles School.
While at Bolles, Stewart not only excelled in baseball but also stood out in football as the star running back. He received a baseball scholarship to Florida State University, and proceeded to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in hitting by his junior year. He was promptly named the ACC player of the year and an All-American.
Like Henry will probably do, Stewart left school as a junior to pursue a professional career. Both the NFL and Major League Baseball require college athletes to complete their junior year before turning professional.
They will follow in the hallowed footsteps of former professional athletes from our area – Daniel Thomas from Hilliard and Terrance Flagler from Fernandina Beach. Both had successful NFL careers as running backs, with Flagler winning several Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers.
So there you have it — local kids who hit it big and made us proud. It’s another feather in our community’s hat. Let’s write another chapter in our history books.
If you made it to downtown Fernandina Beach the last two weeks, you were greeted with bright lights and holiday entertainment.
The first Dickens On Centre festival came to life with Victorian-era costumes, scenery and music. With the multitude of white lights added to the trees on Centre Street, the area truly shined with holiday magic.
The festival is the brainstorm of Gil Langley and the Amelia Island Tourist Development Council. It should grow in popularity and scope in coming years.
While it was held for only two weekends, the lights will reportedly remain hanging through the new year. It makes Fernandina Beach that much more enchanting.