Posted On: 09/11/20 10:21 PM
One of Cherry Creek’s top defensive prospects made it official and picked his school to play at the next level.
Al Ashford IIIAlAshford III6'1" | DBCherry Creek | 2021StateCO, the No. 3 defensive back and No. 19 prospect in the Class of 2021 according to Prep Redzone Colorado, announced his commitment to play football at Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 11. He announced his commitment on KUSA Denver and on the Cherry Creek Sports Network stream.
— Cherry Creek Sports Network (@CherryCreekSN) September 11, 2020
“Wisconsin has always been a spot that I’ve really loved to watch play,” Ashford said. “I love their aggressiveness. That style of football is how I grew up. I grew up in Rochester, New York, and we love that kind of beat-them-up style of football. As I moved to Colorado, I tried to carry that with me.”
Ashford had plenty of options to choose from. When making his announcement, he had 20 schools on his list, ranging from FBS and FCS level programs. Rather than listing a final three or five schools to choose from like many do, he had all 20 on the edge of their seats seeing if he was committing to them.
To make it official, Ashford pulled up a hand sanitizer bottle up on the table with the Wisconsin Badgers logo while wearing a mask, fitting the social distancing and protection guidelines going on. While many options were available, Wisconsin stood above the rest according to the Cherry Creek senior.
“It was an easy decision,” Ashford said.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound cornerback helped Cherry Creek win the Class 5A state championship and go undefeated during the 2019 season. He had a pair of interceptions and multiple pass breakups. He showed good ball instincts and plenty of speed and athleticism in covering all kinds of receivers. His skill sets would allow him to play bump-and-run in tight man-to-man coverage or to play off in zone and read the quarterback with his eyes. Another trait for Ashford is the athleticism he displays with a 4.49 40-yard dash time and 39-inch vertical leap to his name.
And if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, Ashford said he is working to keep his speed while bulking up this offseason.
“I continue to train like I normally would,” Ashford said. “Our motto is bigger, faster, stronger. So I continue to push that and make sure this offseason that we’re gaining weight but also getting faster.”
Ashford knows that will be heading to a marquee school in one of the best conferences in the country for college, but he told Prep Redzone Colorado that he will work hard to try and be the next in line of great defensive backs to come from the conference in recent years.
“The No. 1 defensive back last year, Jeff Okudah, was in the Big Ten last year,” Ashford said. “Him leaving, I feel like that kind of opened a little gap in the Big Ten for another dominant DB. I hope to continue to work hard and fill that spot as a Wisconsin Badger.”
Ashford and teammate Myles PurchaseMylesPurchase5'11" | DBCherry Creek | 2021StateCO forms one of the best cornerback duos in the state of Colorado, and they are hopeful to see the field together for their senior season, with a rumored discussion with CHSAA and Gov. Jared Polis taking place on possibly bringing back football in the fall this year. If so, the duo will look to anchor a strong, talented Cherry Creek defense that will aim to repeat as state champs.
“My motto for life is worry about nothing and pray about everything,” Ashford said. “I just give it to God and continue to control what I can control. I’m not worried about it. If it’s meant to be it will be, and if it’s not then it’s not. There’s no use in worrying about something you cannot control.”
With his commitment, Wisconsin has 18 players who have given their commitment to play for the Badgers in the Class of 2021. Ashford becomes the third player from Colorado to commit to a Big Ten school, joining Cherokee Trail’s Sam HartSamHart6'5" | TECherokee Trail | 2021StateCO (Ohio State) and Cherry Creek teammate Gus ZilinskasGusZilinskas6'3" | DLCherry Creek | 2021StateCO (Rutgers).
And for Wisconsin fans who want to know more about their newest defensive back, Ashford says he is the total package and will bring everything he can for the Badgers.
“You’re getting a true lockdown corner and someone that can play anywhere in the secondary,” Ashford said. “I’m a long guy, a 6-foot-1 corner, but on top of that, not to many guys can actually run playing in that secondary that are that tall, but I can bring that speed to the table.”