By James Butler
STOCKBRIDGE Ga. – With the recent debate in the NCAA concerning football satellite camps hovering in the background, Woodland High School played host to the Minority Coaches Association of Georgia Football Academy Camp on Friday and Thursday.
Woodland High School head coach Steve Davenport was pleased that his school could provide a setting where over 100 colleges and universities could evaluate high school football prospects.
“I think it was outstanding,” Davenport said of the camp. “We had a really, really good collection of college coaches. We had some really good football players. We walked away with a lot of those kids receiving offers. That is the main goal of the camp, to get our kids in front of college coaches in an environment where they get an opportunity to go get some work in with those guys.”
One Southern Crescent prospect who garnered a lot of attention with his play and presence was Our Lady of Mercy rising junior quarterback Javon Henderson. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Henderson displayed impressive arm strength, smooth feet in the pocket, and an overall command of the position.
Henderson, who spent 2015 mostly playing wide receiver, had no interest from colleges before the camp, but East Carolina and South Alabama were just a couple of the numerous schools who were intently watching the 2018 prospect on Friday morning’s final session of the camp.
“I thought I did well,” Henderson said. “I came out here and impressed the college coaches, and I feel as if I did the best I could, so we will see what happens from here.”
While playing quarterback in a setting like a major camp might be new to Henderson, he took to it well, even showing his leadership skills by directing unfamiliar campmates in 7-on-7 work.
“I was raised that way as a leader, so it just comes natural,” Henderson said.
His progress will be worth watching as his Bobcats look to learn and master the systems put in place by new head coach Jarrett Laws.
Another Southern Crescent player who had a good camp was Stockbridge athlete Wesley Guilford Jr. (pictured in front of line). The 5-foot-10, 182-pound rising senior worked out with the wide receivers and consistently got separation from opposing defensive backs with his quickness and route running. During breaks, he even drew praise from the defensive backs.
“That shows they got respect for my game and my confidence, and that I’m a real baller out here,” Guilford Jr. said.
He came into the camp with an offer from Navy, but also interest from Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, and Samford. Those three schools were each at the camp so they had to like what they saw. Guilford Jr. starts on offense and defense for the Tigers, playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball, so to him the position schools see him as a best fit does not matter.
“I’ll play anywhere the college needs me,” he said.
Thursday morning’s opening session of the camp also saw some talented Southern Crescent players out on the field. Spalding had a trio from the Class of 2017 who were being watched closely by colleges. Linebacker Kelvin Johnson came into the camp with offers from Tulane and Western Carolina, while running back Askia Moses came into the camp with an offer from Gardner Webb.
Also, quarterback Naricuss Driver is being looked at as a possible outside linebacker by Louisville, but as a quarterback by Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, and Liberty. Spalding assistant coach Chip Stanford said that Mississippi State sees the 6-foot-2, 220-pound driver in the mold of former Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott. Once again, thanks to the camp, Mississippi State had the chance to evaluate another Southern Crescent product they are interested in.
Perhaps no player in the Southern Crescent has seen an increase in interest greater than Woodland’s own, Wallace Corker II. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound rising senior, and cousin of the Wolfpack’s highly recruited Yusuf Corker, was coming off of an impressive showing in the Airo 7v7 Tournament in Locust Grove. He continued to impress Thursday morning.
“I got a call (Thursday) from the University of Florida (about Corker II), Davenport said. “He’s obviously a talented kid, but he’s worked so hard to become a good football player. You reap what you sow, and he’s sown some tremendous seeds since spring.
“He’s got a senior year to go, and he’s got to do the same thing on the field in competition. I’m confident he’s going to have a good year for us.”
Because of his showing at the camp, Corker II picked up offers from Oregon State and Minnesota.
Some of the non-Southern Crescent players who I see as possibly benefitting from the camp were Meadowcreek linebacker Airon Buick, Walnut Grove defensive back D.J. Rivers, Grady tight end/offensive lineman Seth Wolfe, and Greenback (TN) tight end Tavin Kilpatrick – all rising seniors.
Also, from the Class of 2018, Heard County wide receiver Jaden Moreland, McEachern wide receiver Genuine Potts, Brooks County running back Jonathan White, and Douglas County fullback/H-back Uriah West all impressed. Rising-sophomore quarterback Nolan Grooms, formerly of Wayne County, performed great as a member of the 2019 Class.
In total, over 1,300 players from across the Southeast attended the two-day camp, getting a chance to come before the eye of college coaches like Kirby Smart, Urban Meyer, and Bret Bielema as well as coaches from FCS and lower division schools. Judging from the increased attention some prospects are already getting, anyone who does not see a need for such camps might want to re-evaluate their opinion.
“We thought it went really, really well,” Davenport said. “The numbers were good. Obviously there are some things we can do to improve the camp, and if the NCAA grants us the opportunity to host the camp again next year, we’ll improve upon what we think was really good.
“The representation of the college coaches was outstanding for us. We had them from across the country. That was what our goal was, to bring a tremendous amount of college coaches in an environment where they can see a tremendous number of high school athletes.”