By Gabriel Stovall
We’re about a fast three-and-a-half months away from the kickoff of the 2016 football season, but Spring Ball is in full effect.
Many teams will be engaging in their spring ball finale, Spring Football Game this Friday, which will give coaches and fans one last opportunity to see where their teams stand before the summer stretch begins.
College recruiters also break out their magnifying glasses during the spring sessions in order to evaluate athletes with a little more close scrutiny. It’s no surprise, then, that recruiting rankings shift and college offers come rolling in during this time.
So we thought it fitting to roll out our Spring Football edition of the Southern Crescent Super Six. It’s a look at who the recruiting services are saying are Georgia’s top players, with a special focus on the four-county area of Henry, Clayton, Fayette and Spalding Counties. We’ve thrown in a little South Fulton also, since Hapeville Charter (Hapeville) and Woodward Academy (College Park) are right on the doorstep of Clayton County.
We’ve taken a look at 247sports.com‘s Georgia rankings, and given you their rendition of South Metro
Atlanta’s six most highly ranked Class of 2017 recruits.
The top six are listed in the order they appear in the 247sports.com‘s state rankings. We’ve also included nine other Southern Crescent area players who cracked the 247sports.com’s top 150 Georgia list. We call them “The Best of the Rest.”
1.William Poole (Hapeville Charter), 5-11.5, 180 CB.
Status: Committed to Georgia.
State Ranking: No. 9
Other Offers/Interest: Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Cal, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among others.
INSIGHT: Poole is the only four-star guy in the bunch. He’s also arguably the state’s top corner and considered one of Georgia’s best players, regardless of position. He’s a hard commit to Georgia and new coach Kirby Smart, but that doesn’t mean other schools still won’t come calling.
2. Yusuf Corker (Woodland), 6-0, 177 pounds CB.
State Ranking: No. 38
Offers/Interest: South Carolina, Duke, Alabama, North Carolina, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Stanford and West Virginia among others.
INSIGHT: Yusuf looked the part of an elite player from his freshman year, but he truly began to emerge toward the end of his sophomore season. He could end his career as Woodland’s most highly touted football recruit in school history.
3. J.R. Pace (Woodard Academy), 6-1, 190 S
State Ranking: No. 53
Offers/Interest: Duke, Northwestern, Kansas State, Georgia Southern, Colorado State, Boston College, Appalachian State, Maryland, Navy and Minnesota, among others.
INSIGHT: A very versatile player, Pace looks to make his claim on the college level as a safety. In a very defensive back-heavy recruiting class, Pace’s status could rise with a solid senior season.
4. Meshael Custis (Lovejoy), 6-1, 175 CB
State Ranking: No. 55
Offers/Interest: Clemson, Kentucky, Michigan, Cincinnati, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Mississippi State, among others.
INSIGHT: The latest Custis to come out of Lovejoy looks every bit the part of a Division I caliber athlete as his relatives Travis (West Georgia by way of Georgia Tech) and Montrell (Ole Miss).
5. Calder Marria (Jonesboro), 6-4, 210 WDE/TE
State Ranking: No. 66
Offers/Interest: Georgia State, Miami-Ohio and UAB
INSIGHT: It is said that, with the mass exodus of top shelf talent that is the class of 2016, Jonesboro will be rebuilding. Coach Tim Floyd insists that the cupboard is not bare, and Marria, with his offense/defense versatility, is proof of that.
6. Josh Johnson (Woodard Academy), 5-11, 175 WR
State Ranking: No. 69
Offers/Interest: Boston College, Colorado State, Georgia Southern, Fresno State, Illinois and Charlotte, among others.
INSIGHT: Johnson established himself as a legit deep threat target for his also-highly regarded quarterback Ryan Glover in 2015. Secondaries will key on him this season, so an encore of his 2015 season will skyrocket his profile.
BEST OF THE REST
Marvin Hubbard (Sandy Creek), 5-9, 180 RB
Status: Committed to Duke
State Ranking: No. 91
Other Offers/Interest: East Carolina, Missouri, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, among others.
INSIGHT: With the departure of WR Korey Banks (South Carolina) and S Javon Jackson (Duke), Marvin Hubbard should become a featured back in Sandy Creek’s offense this season. He’s another committed player that won’t stop getting attention.
Jalen Holston (Stockbridge), 5-11, 200 RB
State Ranking: No. 93
Offers/Interest: Virginia Tech, Duke, Louisville, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, among others.
INSIGHT: We actually consider Jalen to be a bit underrated on this list. The Stockbridge power back may actually be the most naturally talented tailback, and the closest thing to the “total package” coach Kevin Whitley’s had during his tenure. His offer list alone shows he’s one of Georgia’s most prized RB talents.
Trevor Gear (ELCA), 6-0, 210 RB
State Ranking: No. 98
Offers/Interest: Ball State, Army, Eastern Kentucky, Elon, Gardner-Webb, Navy, Mercer, among others.
INSIGHT: We think a lot of people are playing the “wait-and-see” game with Gear more because of who he plays (ELCA’s a Class A school) rather than how he plays. Observers, however, should consider the schedule ELCA has played the last two years, facing some of the state’s toughest teams in higher classifications.
Jaelen Greene (Sandy Creek), 5-11, 200 RB
State Ranking: No. 99
Offers/Interest: Cincinnati, Tulane, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Marshall and Miami-Ohio, among others.
INSIGHT: Greene is the “rumble” of Sandy Creek’s thunder-and-lightening tailback tandem. He and Hubbard will be a handful for defenses this season.
Ryan Glover (Woodward Academy), 6-2, 190 QB
State Ranking: No. 103
Offers/Interest: Georgia State, Ohio, South Alabama and Boston College among others
INSIGHT: Arguably the Southside’s top signal caller, Glover had ample opportunity to prove himself after RB Elijah Holyfield (Georgia) went down with injury last year. This year, all eyes will be on him at the controls of the Woodward Academy offense.
Caleb Huntley (Locust Grove), 6-0, 210 RB
State Ranking: No. 114
Offers/Interest: Minnesota, Elon, Georgia State and Mercer among others.
INSIGHT: Another tailback talent that could shape up to be better than the recruiting services think. His recent offer from Minnesota of the Big 10 may the beginning of a rise in Huntley’s recruiting status.
Jeffrey Hubbard (Woodward Academy), 5-10, 180 CB
State Ranking No. 119
Offers/Interest: Cincinnati, Georgia State, Jacksonville State, Miami-Ohio, Old Dominion.
INSIGHT: In December, we may very well look back on the 2016 season and call Woodward’s secondary the best in the state. If so, it’ll be because of players like Hubbard. The ball-hawking defender has underrated toughness and speed for his size.
Trent Carrington (Fayette County), 5-11, 185 S
State Ranking: No. 122
Offers/Interest: Georgia Tech, Mercer
INSIGHT: Unfortunately the recruiting game is often more about popularity than sheer ability. This could be why more haven’t heard of Carrington who, with the graduation of safety Sean Harper (Tulane), may be ready to take the spotlight in the Tigers’ experienced secondary in 2016. Look for him to shine at tailback also, just as he did during the Tigers’ spring game Friday.
Marquese Taylor (Lovejoy), 5-11, 177 CB/WR
State Ranking: No. 123
INSIGHT: Who says Lovejoy doesn’t have big time talent anymore? Certainly no one who’s ever watched Taylor play on either side of the ball. With players like Taylor, fellow underrated wideout Malik Route and rising junior RB Zion Custis, Lovejoy could make noise in the fall.
Offers/Interest: East Carolina, Cal, Cincinnati, Georgia State and Jacksonville State