By James Butler
With football approaching its state title games and the season over with for county teams, I thought this would be a good time to spotlight some players who have flown under the radar in the major recruiting circles. Here are three players from around Fayette County from the Class of 2016 and what I think they can bring to a potential college. I also look at three players from Sandy Creek for the Class of 2017, providing a forecast for them to be major names on the recruiting scene this time next year.
McIntyre was a leading threat offensively for the Wildcats, but I think he projects to be an impact player in college even more so as a defender. He also stood out on that side of the ball for Whitewater as he showed good coverage skills from his safety position. He could play either safety spot in college, but playing near the line as strong safety is intriguing given his strength and the way he can drive through his tackles. That is also why he could make a good linebacker with another 20 or so pounds added. There, his ability to cover would be even more of an asset. At last check, McIntyre was visiting mid-majors like Georgia State.
Nash was an indispensable part of the Tigers football team during his time at Fayette County. That included being a highlight-reel quarterback who was hard to corral, but it is his ability as a slot receiver that I see as being a major plus to a potentially lucky college. Nash is quicker than he is fast, as he has been timed with a 4.32 20-yard short shuttle, but that is exactly what you want in a slot receiver. His highlight reel also furthers this point as he is adept at putting moves on defenders. You should be able to count on him making the first tackler miss once you put the ball in his hands. Some school running the spread offense would be wise to recruit Nash.
Munerlyn was used in a variety of ways over his last couple of seasons playing for the Panthers. He was more of a receiver his junior year, while his senior season he was more of a wing back and tailback – though he still caught his share of passes. He finished the regular season with 663 rushing yards on 70 carries to go along with three rushing scores (not including playoffs). He projects to contribute no matter what level he ends up playing on. I like his dependability as pass catcher in a run-oriented offense, which why it should come as no surprise that Kennesaw State has previously shown interest in him. There is also the intriguing possibility, given his size and athleticism, that he is used somewhere in the secondary.
Hubbard is a 10.5 100-meter runner in track and is a legit 4.4 guy in the 40-yard dash, which puts him very good company for a high school football player. Add to those numbers his production on the football field and that alone should make him sought after before and during his senior year. Despite sharing the tailback load with juniors Jaelon Green and Drezyn Parson, Hubbard ended 2015 as Sandy Creek’s leading rusher, logging 893 yards on 91 carries and averaging close to a first down per touch. He also found the end zone a total of 12 times. Not just a speed guy, Hubbard shows the ability to run between the tackles, cut to daylight and break tackles in the open field. And of course he can help early in his college career returning kicks. He took one back 90 yards for a score during Sandy Creek’s season opener against Creekview in the Korky Kell Classic.
The junior defensive back starred in the Patriots secondary alongside 2016 Duke commit Javon Jackson. Jenkins looks to project as a ball-hawking free safety wherever he plays his college ball. His skills at diagnosing and jumping routes is sort of reminiscent to former Sandy Creek defensive back Mike Hilton, who is now finishing up his senior year at Ole Miss. Jenkins has also shown the willingness to come up and engage ball carriers and tackle. He finished the year with six interceptions, tied with Jackson for the team lead. As the build up to the 2017 signing day gets going, expect to see Jenkins’ name be mentioned as much as some of his 2016 teammates.
Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker said at the beginning of the season that Mallet has a chance to be one of the best tight ends to ever wear the Creek colors. And given the quality and status Walker’s program has achieved over the last 15 years, that’s saying quite a bit. Mallet is a guy who, despite not catching a ton of balls this season, was able to stretch the field as a tight end to the tune of close to a 30 yards-per-catch average. That’s a coveted tool that many high school teams aren’t privy to. Look for Mallet to have a breakout year in 2016 as several of the Patriots speed merchants on the outside — like Korey Banks — graduate this year, and rising junior quarterback Bryant Walker comes in more seasoned with a year as a starter under his belt.
Who are the other Fayette County seniors or up-and-comers I may have missed? Send me their names via email at email@example.com or find me on Twitter @JamesButlerJour.