Andre Buford’s birthday was Monday.
His son, Detroit King senior offensive lineman Deon Buford, committed to Kentucky on the same day his father would have been celebrating. Andre Buford passed on Nov. 1. Buford would’ve been 45, but he was shot to death by a 24-year old on the city’s eastside.
“No matter where is was going I was going to wait until his birthday to make my announcement,’’ Buford said in front of his family and teammates before practice.
“It just felt like home being there. I knew back in June when I made my official visit I was going there. They kept it real with me and I just like the environment. Coach Clink (Steve Clinkscale) was honest with me. I like the coaching staff and the environment.’’
Buford, a three- or four-star depending on what you read, becomes the second Michigan high school lineman to commit to the Wildcats.
Oak Park star Justin Rogers, the top ranked recruit in the class of 2020, also committed.
“People think I’m following him there, but I committed before Justin,’’ Deon said as he stood by his mother, Sianena Taylor.
“I just want you to go where you feel comfortable,’’ she said before announcing his decision. This is an emotional day before this was his father’s birthday. Pick your college based on your heart and not what anybody tells you.’’
The 6-foot-4, 273-pound tackle hopes to tack on another state title after anchoring the King line to a state title against Muskegon a year ago. Athletic Director Barry Cannon believed the Crusaders would move back to Division 2 based on early enrollment numbers after being Division 3 a year ago.
Whatever the case, coach Tyrone Spencer and Taylor credited Buford for finally focusing on his goal of being a college football player after his freshman year.
“He struggled his freshman year on the field and in the classroom,’’ said Spencer. “We sat him down and told him he had a chance to do something special. Since then he hasn’t been under a 3.0 grade-point average. He has listened to his coaches and done the things he needed to do to get to this point.’’
Buford acknowledged his early shortcomings.
“Things clicked my sophomore year,’’ he said. “Coach Spence got on me and encouraged me to work harder.’’
With the offense in the hands of freshman Dante Moore, Buford was confident that whatever division the Crusaders were in they’d be a threat.
“DJ has been great,’’ said Buford. “It would be great if we could go back-to-back. As a senior I want this year to be special. We have a lot of confidence in DJ.’’Detroit