Photo/James Pugh

Charles Cross says it’s an “honor and great opportunity.” Laurel’s senior four-star offensive tackle and Florida State University commit was presented with his All-American Bowl jersey Monday morning at the high school. 

While it is that, it’s also the first honor and opportunity any Laurel player has been given. 

“It’s a blessing,” said Cross. “I can do nothing but thank God, my family and my coaches. It’s a great opportunity.

“It’s good to be a part of history. It’s always good to be the first one [from your school] to do something [like this].”

Former Laurel tight end Octavious Cooley was a roster finalist in the All-American Bowl game, but never made the final cut. Cross is the first Laurel player to cross the line from finalist to player. 

Cross will join West Jones senior defensive end, and Alabama commit Byron Young on Saturday, Jan. 5 in San Antonio, Texas for the 2019 All-American Bowl game. The high school all-star game of sorts features the nation’s best players in the 2019 recruiting class. Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised on NBC.

“It will be a good chance to show people what Jones County is made of,” said Cross when asked about joining Young in the prestigious game. 

Currently, the Laurel senior is rated as the nation’s No. 13 offensive tackle in the 2019 class according to He is also listed as the nation’s No. 194th player overall by ESPN300. 

Cross said he never dreamed of getting this far.

“I never imagined this,” said Cross. “But I put in a lot of hard work and dedication. It’s gotten me this far.”

The four-star lineman holds 19 scholarship offers, and while his commitment to Florida State is strong, Cross still plans to take official visits to USC, as well as in-state universities Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Not only is Cross talented on the field, he’s also smart in the classrom. He holds a 3.6 GPA.

Led by Cross, Laurel is 6-3 overall and unbeaten in Region 3-5A at 5-0. A win over North Pike Friday night “Between the Bricks” will secure the Tornadoes their fourth Region 3-5A title in five years.