By Gabriel Stovall
Not too long ago, we published our first Southern Crescent Super Six, which was a compilation of the six most highly sought after high school football recruits in the four-county area, according to 247sports.com
Well, since that report, a few things have changed, including two of our most highly touted football athletes stepping off the market by making verbal college commitments.
Stockbridge defensive end Charles Wiley was first, giving his pledge to Ole Miss.
Then it was Riverdale DE Chidi Okonya, picking Tennessee after Riverdale’s spring football game Friday.
Needless to say, the spring is a time where things get moving, both for big time high school football recruits, and for the college coaches and scouts responsible for luring them to their schools.
The “stars” game that much of high school recruiting is, is often arbitrary at best. A player’s star status — whether they’re considered 3-star, 4-star, 5-star, etc. recruits — is sometimes based more on popularity — how many college football blue bloods are offering you — than it is on performance.
So this time around, we’re going to update our Southern Crescent Super Six, based on some of the shifts and changes recruiting experts have made in their listings, but we’re going to add our very own sleeper report as well.
We’ll give you a list, in no particular order, of athletes in our four-county area that may not be getting the talk and attention now, but definitely could find their way on the radar by the time National Signing Day 2016 comes back around in February.
Check it out, and let us know who you think we missed.
First, our latest Southern Crescent Super Six, based on 247sports.com’s recruiting rankings:
1. MICHAIL CARTER, DT, (Jackson). State rank: No. 14, Uncommitted: Although not technically in the four-county area, Carter, a Jackson County product, is close enough to be considered with the rest of the best in the Southern Crescent area. Carter’s clearly the top player on an otherwise average Jackson High squad. At 6-foot-3, 311 pounds, he looks college ready right now, and Georgia looks like the frontrunner for his services, although he recently received an offer from Big 12 stud Oklahoma.
2. CHARLES WILEY, DE, (Stockbridge). State rank: No. 19 Committed to Ole Miss: Wiley could be, pound for pound, the best defensive end in Georgia by the time his senior year is over. He’s a stellar combination of speed and power and has a high football IQ. He has a fast first step and a good cache of pass rush moves for a high schooler.
3. BRODARIUS HAMM, LT (Spalding). State Rank: No. 23 Committed to Tennessee: Hamm saw enough of Tennessee during the Vols’ spring game last month to where he decided to commit on the spot. The 6-foot-5, 320 pound tackle is considered by many to be the best offensive tackle in the state behind Archer’s E.J. Price and Stephens County’s Ben Cleveland.
4. CHANDLER TUITT, OG (Sandy Creek). State Rank: No. 29, Uncommitted: Tuitt moves into our Super Six after getting an offer from Georgia back in February. He’s big and lean, and his importance will be paramount to the Sandy Creek offense as the Patriots will break in a new quarterback while working to find replacements at tailback for uber talented Ole Miss signee Eric Swiney.
5. ZERRICK COOPER, QB (Jonesboro). State Rank: No. 30, Committed to Clemson: Cooper will get to show a little more of his stuff during Jonesboro’s spring game Monday. But one would have to think that the Cardinals’ coaching staff will play it somewhat safe with the four-star, dual threat signal caller as he’s coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2014. Cooper said the time off has given him the chance to work on the cerebral part of his game.
6. CHIDI OKONYA, DE (Riverdale). State Rank: No. 31, Committed to Tennessee: While players like Wiley, Carter and Hamm may be the most complete, college ready prospects in this group, Okonya is blessed with, perhaps, the most upside. That’s not to say that he isn’t primed to be an immediately impactful player, though. Okonya’s 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame could probably add another 25 pounds for the college level, and that’s probably why he had over 30 schools salivating over the rising senior. He joins Hamm to give Tennessee five Southern Crescent commits/signees in the last three years.
Here are a few of the names — again, not in any particular order — of players we think are the best of the rest in the Southern Crescent area, and players that schools ought not overlook, regardless of their rankings.
JORDAN GRIFFIN, CB, (Jonesboro). State Rank: No. 47. Griffin dropped a bit in the rankings from our last Super Six report, but the Kentucky commit is still every bit the elite athlete. Don’t be surprised if other schools start making a push for him this summer.
KOREY BANKS, JR., WR/DB (Sandy Creek) State Rank No. 80. Another case of a player who’s rapidly moving up the charts and onto the recruiting radar. Banks is a speedy, talented “slash” type of athlete who can line up in virtually any skill spot on the field and be dangerous. He’s picked up 10 offers in the last month-and-a-half, most notably from Michigan, Arizona and Minnesota.
JAVON JACKSON, Safety (Sandy Creek): The 5-foot-11, 180 pound safety will be a part of what should be one of the area’s most talented secondaries. He’s got 11 offers, with Kentucky being the school coming on the hardest right now. Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker said Jackson’s athletic ability could put him in position to take snaps at quarterback in special situations.
MARVIN HUBBARD, RB (Sandy Creek): Not to harp on the Patriots too heavily, but the absence of big time players from last year’s squad just creates the perfect storm for some uniquely talented athletes to step off the sidelines and show themselves as elite. This rising sophomore tailback is one of those players. Walker says he’s probably the fastest of a trio of RBs who will seek to replace the production of departed star and Ole Miss signee Eric Swinney.
DARIUS STUBBS, RB, (Luella): Speaking of standout running backs, Luella’s got a special one in Stubbs. He rolled up 681 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries in 2014 while splitting touches with fellow rising senior Josh White. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder is a mixture of speed and power. He can hit between the tackles and beat you to the corner. He’s got close to a half dozen Division I offers, including one from Syracuse this past week.
CHRIS HENDERSON, DE (Lovejoy): The Wildcats have had some pretty stingy, stout defenses in the last three or four years back when Lovejoy was contending for state championships, and when you look at Henderson on the field, he, at 6-foot-4 235 pounds, looks like he fits the mold of some of those defensive studs. He has been picking up steam on the recruiting trail this spring and is set up to be a defensive star for coach Ed Carson.
JEFF TAYLOR, OT (Jonesboro): For all the skill position talent Jonesboro usually accumulates on the football field, the interior lines, both defensively and offensively, are often lacking a bit. But Taylor is the exception to that, especially on the offensive line where he has the potential to dominate.
ZION CUSTIS, RB/DB (Lovejoy): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Lovejoy High School will put a guy named Custis on the field and will expect him to become a star. At about 5-foot-6 and 160 pounds, you’ll look at him and think scatback. Then after you watch him run you’ll say something along the lines of, “Whoa.” He’s a little back with a big burst and surprising strength between the tackles. He looks well equipped to follow the footsteps of former Lovejoy star Travis Custis at running back.
TREVOR GEAR, RB (ELCA): First saw this guy ripping off several 100 yard games as a freshman at Union Grove. He’s always had great vision and good burst to the hole. Maturity has given the rising junior an extra dose of speed and decisiveness. He’ll combine with rising sophomore Josh Mays to make possibly one of the area’s most potent backfield tandems.
IAN MCINTYRE, RB/Safety (Whitewater): McIntyre may be one of the best players in the Crescent that you’ve never heard of, unless, of course you’re a Whitewater fan. After registering 60 stops, eight pass breakups and an interception on defense, and 397 rushing yards on 51 carries on offense in 2014, he is easily the Wildcats’ most valuable returning player.
NOAH CLOWERS DT (Griffin): At 5-foot-10, 240 pounds, Clowers is a player second year Griffin coach Jarrett Laws is expecting big things out of. Several key departures from his front seven due to graduation will provide plenty of room for Clowers to make plays in the trenches.
CAMERON MADDOX, QB (Locust Grove): With his 2,020 total yards and 21 touchdowns (rushing and passing), Maddox was one of the most productive offensive players in the four-county area in 2014. The former Stockbridge backup QB found a home in coach Clint Satterfield’s run-heavy offense, and he’s poised to have a big senior season.
KINDLE VILDOR, CB (North Clayton): The North Clayton product had a solid outing this spring at the Nike Football Combine, sponsored by The Opening 2015. He’s a defensive back who had three picks, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries last season, but he’s also the Eagles’ leading returner in all-purpose yards.
GREG WHITE, WR (Riverdale): It’s been Chidi Okonya garnering most of the attention at Riverdale lately, but there’s definitely more than just him on the Raiders roster to keep opposing coaches occupied. White — along with rising sophomore tailback Jordan Hughes — is someone coach Terry Herrod said could have a true breakout year in 2015. Having a bigger, stronger, smarter quarterback in Joseph Cambridge getting him the ball should help that cause.
CHANDLER REEVES, RT (ELCA): If you look at Reeves’ offer list, you might not think to call him a sleeper. Reeves has the likes of Syracuse, Cal, Maryland, Navy and North Carolina coming for him, and, warranting him to be our Featured Athlete of the Week two weeks ago. He’s got great length and stellar footwork, and if he can hold his own against some of the state’s best — check out ELCA’s 2015 schedule — he’ll have even more schools to choose from.
KALI JAMES, DT (Jonesboro): If you could put James’ motor into a 6-foot-3, 270 pound frame, you’d have the attributes of a blue chip defensive tackle prospect. As it is, James is generously listed at 5-foot-11, but regardless of size, he’s a beast, and will be a steal of a pickup for a smaller school if larger schools allow his height to bamboozle them.
MALACHI BROWN, QB (Stockbridge): As dual threat quarterbacks in go in the Southern Crescent, Brown might be the best. In addition to showing deft and skill at running coach Kevin Whitley’s wing-T offense, Brown displayed surprising touch and accuracy in the passing game. He’s got a big target in WR Marquez Ezzard who could help him look really, really good this season when he has to throw it.
CHASE BURDETTE, LB (ELCA): Burdette was a workhorse last year at linebacker for the Class A runners-up, piling up an unreal 170 tackles and being sort of the brains behind the ELCA linebackers corps. If he puts up numbers comparable to last year in 2015, he’ll definitely be springing up on some recruiting radars.
AUBRY PAYNE, TE (Locust Grove): The senior was a very formidable pass-catching threat last year with his 15 grabs for 209 yards and five scores. The 6-foot-3, 210 pounder, who also plays linebacker, has a pair of offers from Georgia State and Cincinnati and has received a little interest from Florida State as well.
Who did we miss? Who should be added on this list?