School Spotlight: Spain Park Jaguars (Hoover, AL)

Spain Park is a public high school located in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Alabama. The school’s colors are Carolina blue, black, and white, and the athletic teams’ name is the Jaguars. Spain Park participates in the 7A class (highest classification) of the AHSAA. Nick Mullens (a current quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings) and Mike Jackson (current cornerback of Seattle Seahawks) are both notable alumni of SPHS. Spain Park is a fairly new school that has only been around since 2001. The Spain Park Football Program is led by current Head Coach Tim Vakakes. 

The history of the Spain Park’s Football Program is not bad considering that it has only been open for about 22 years. They have made it to the State Championship Game twice and the semifinals 2 other times (haven’t won a State Championship yet). Coach Vakakes noted that Spain Park has always been capable but lacks consistency. Coach Vakakes is the 7th Head Coach in Spain Park’s history. 

Coach Vakakes is in his 22nd year coaching football, with Spain Park being his 3rd school in 20 years. His first 11 years of coaching were at Fairfield High up until 2011. Fairfield wasn’t a very strong team until his 4th year there, where they went 11-1. He then became the Quarterback Coach at McAdory, and in his only season they went 14-1, only losing in the State Championship Game. The very next year he made his way to Jackson-Olin High in Birmingham, becoming a Head Coach there. This program was a mess when he arrived. They had not had a winning season in 15 years, and he was the 5th Head Coach in only the past 7 years. In his 4th year as Head Coach there, his team turned around to an 8-3 squad, consequently making the playoffs. In 2018, Jackson-Olin went 10-0, winning their regional championship. Coach Vakakes produced at least 4 All-American athletes from that tenure, who have played at multiple Power 5 colleges. Coach Vakakes accredited a lot of his success to a bunch of great athletes who were willing to work hard. Last year was Coach Vakakes’ very first season with Spain Park, going 3-7 and not being able to participate in the playoffs. He also accredits the seniors of last year setting the foundation for the athletes coming up after them. 

Moving forward, knowing who you are and knowing what you stand for is most important for Spain Park taking that next step as a Program. Being in the weight room gives any athletes to compete with, or even become themselves, elite athletes. Going to the weight room is one key, but doing it consistently separates the good from the great. By the kids understanding what is expected from them and understanding the outcomes of constant work, this is where it begins to turnaround a program. Coach points out that most problems for Spain Park in the past have been great athletes leaving for other schools. Giving the kids a reason to WANT to be at Spain Park is something that Coach Vakakes has experience changing himself. Lastly, building the team nature in these kids and having them want to play for each other as a family is very important in being a successful football program. 

I asked Coach Vakakes about some top prospects that he expects to play a big role for the team next year: 

#20 Dakarai Shanks is a 5’10” 188 lb class of 2025 Running Back. Dakarai runs a 4.46-second 40-yard dash and has a brother who plays the same position as him (Derick). 

#5 Derick Shanks is a 5’10” class of 2024 Running Back. Derick is a very elusive back with great lower-body strength and has a younger brother (Dakarai) who plays the same position as him. 

#3 Jonathan Bibbs is a 6’2” 164 lb class of 2024 Wide Receiver. Jonathan is a very tall receiver who excels mostly in the Running-After-Catch category.

#8 Jamari Mosley is a class of 2024 Cornerback. Jamari is ElITE in pass coverage, is not afraid of making big time tackles, and excels in special teams as a return man. 

#92 Nikolas Alston is a 6’3” 250 lb class of 2025 Defensive Lineman. Nik has SEC Football potential and will be expected to play college football at a high level. 

#33 Jared Smith is a 6’6” 230 lb class of 2025 Defensive End. He is an SEC kid and a top 30 prospect in his class. Jared is an elite edge rusher that disrupts a quarterback’s pocket regularly.

#8 Corey Barber is a 6’0” 175 lb class of 2026 Wide Receiver and Free Safety. Corey will be a part of an SEC program. He has amazing hands and excels on high-pointing jump balls.

#2 Reggie Jackson is a 6’2″ 174 lb class of 2025 Wide Receiver, Running Back, and Free Safety. Reggie can stretch the field and run past some defenders with his deceiving size.

#5 Brock Bradley is a 6’0″ 175 lb class of 2026 Quarterback. Brock has offers from UAB, Troy, Arkansas State, and the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp.