QB C.J. Uzomah gives North Gwinnett, Auburn lots of options

CHANNEL 2 SPORTS ZONE GAME OF THE WEEK: GRAYSON AT N. GWINNETT

Like another quarterback already playing on the Plains, Auburn commitment C.J. Uzomah has proven hard to bring down for North Gwinnett's opponents. (Photo reprinted with permission by Brian Kamer/thewinningshots.com)

Like another quarterback already playing on the Plains, Auburn commitment C.J. Uzomah has proven hard to bring down for North Gwinnett's opponents. (Photo reprinted with permission by Brian Kamer/thewinningshots.com)

It’s a marriage made in football heaven: Bob Sphire, a mad scientist of an offensive coach, and C.J. Uzomah, a Frankenstein of a quarterback.

They have come together in Suwanee at North Gwinnett High School and there they have terrorized opposing defenses for the better part of two seasons. Tonight, Sphire will unleash his offensive monstrosity against Grayson in the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised as the Channel 2 Sports Zone Friday Game of the Week (live on Charter 126/Comcast 248; 1 a.m. replay on WSB Ch. 2).

Make no mistake about it: North Gwinnett (11-0) has been good every year since Sphire has been at the controls (57-8 in five seasons). But while he is the man pulling the levers behind the curtain, never before has he had the athletic diversity with which to work that Uzomah provides.

You could say that the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Uzomah, an Auburn commitment, is the Bulldogs’ quarterback. But that would be too simplistic of a description. He’s just as apt to line up at wide receiver or tight end or running back on any given play. And rarely is he posted as a decoy. If he lines up somewhere, it tends to be because Sphire wants to get the ball to him.

“I’ve never seen one like him,” Sphire said of his star player. “He can do a ton of things and he does them all well. And he’s a wonderful kid to coach. He’ll do whatever we ask.”

They’re asking a lot.

Uzomah actually played five different positions on one single scoring drive earlier this season against Collins Hill. He began the series at quarterback, then played running back, flanker, tight end and split end, making plays at each position before winding up the drive back under center.

That uncanny diversity is reflected in the Bulldogs’ box scores. He’s the team’s leading rusher with 535 yards on 73 carries (7.3 ypc), has completed 77 percent of his passes for 782 yards and 8 touchdowns (with one interception) and has caught 14 passes for 258 yards and three more scores. That’s 1,575 yards and 18 TDs he has accounted for.

Just in case you weren’t convinced of Uzomah’s versatility, he’s also the team’s punter (37.5 average) and serves as the deep safety on defense for Hail Mary situations.

“I enjoy it,” Uzomah says of being lined up all over the field. “I think I’m very fortunate to be put in position to play for such a brilliant coach.”

The main reason Sphire has the luxury of moving around Uzomah so liberally is he’s blessed with another gifted quarterback. Scotty Hosch is a 6-2, 185-pound junior who, while less of an athletic freak, is equally adept at making the offense move. He has passed for 866 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception.

“He’d be starting for almost anybody in the state,” Sphire said of Hosch. “Very cerebral. He’s more of a traditional pocket spread thrower instead of the running spread. He’s a coach on the field really.”

You can almost picture Sphire rubbing his hands together and licking his lips as he describes his two quarterbacks’ abilities. The players, too, get excited by the possibilities.

“It’s funny because Scotty and I have separate playbooks set up for us,” Uzomah said. “So every Monday we’re always excited to see what he came up with for us. We’ll compare the plays and sometimes there will be a new one in there and we’ll be like, ‘wow, I bet we’re gonna bust one on that!’”

That’s one of the attractions of playing for Sphire, a Tony Franklin disciple who learned the Spread directly from the offensive guru while the two lived in Kentucky. Sphire was the head coach at Lexington Catholic High and Franklin was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Hal Mumme at Kentucky two miles away. Sphire would visit regularly to study the intricacies of the system. And when Mumme was dismissed from UK, the two conspired as coaches of the Kentucky Horsemen indoor football team.

Uzomah said he knew none of that when he first strolled into the fieldhouse and met Sphire as a North Gwinnett ninth grader.

“I just happened to be in the North Gwinnett system and he showed up,” Uzomah said of Sphire “I had heard about how he was turning things around. But I didn’t realize how much of a difference he was going to make.”

Meanwhile, it was Auburn that convinced Uzomah late this past summer he should come play his college ball with them. While other teams wrestled with where to play Uzomah on the next level, Gus Malzahn, another offensive mad man, told Uzomah what he wanted to hear. “Come here as a wide receiver,” he told him, “and we’ll line you up at the Wildcat and move you around a little and see what happens.”

Some folks may have noticed what Malzahn has done with another versatile athlete on the Plains. Pay-for-play scandals aside, Atlanta’s similarly-built Cameron Newton has put college football on its ear and Auburn into the national championship race.

Uzomah has noticed, too. But he hasn’t gotten any indication they plan to utilize him similarly.

“I haven’t talked to them very much since I committed, to be honest,” he said. “So right now they still want me as a wide receiver as far as I know. But some of the zone-read stuff they do with [Newton] where he’s reading the tackle and the end, we actually do a lot of that here at North Gwinnett. So I could see myself doing that. But I don’t know if I will or not.”

Uzomah will definitely be doing it tonight against Grayson, which just so happens to feature one of the stingiest defenses in Class AAAAA football.

“It doesn’t get much tougher than Grayson,” said Uzomah, who scored a long touchdown against the Rams in a 28-15 exhibition win to start the season. “They’re a physical team and we know that. They’ve had a lot of players injured and they’ve had some tough calls go against them. You can see on film they’re better than their record shows. We know we have to be ready to play our best game.”

Win or lose, you can bet Uzomah will have had a lot to do with it.

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188 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

November 19th, 2010
5:26 am

(((( 49 – 31 ))))

HAHAHAHAHAHA

Destin Dawg

November 19th, 2010
6:09 am

” It’ll take at least $$$$ 100 grand….. to get the son of a preacher man “” Yes it will !!!

Donahue Drive

November 19th, 2010
6:45 am

up until now QB has always been a weak link @ AU – we were weak there from Sullivan to Newton – this kid should develop into a nice player – I was originally skeptical about Chizik but so far he has made all the right moves

Saint Simons

November 19th, 2010
7:40 am

(((((36-14))))))HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! SOUTH CAROLINA RULES!

G'Vegas Dawg

November 19th, 2010
8:00 am

I hate it for this kid. All signs point to Auburn getting a severe penalty which may even include the death penalty. Maybe he’ll change his mind and go somewhere else where he will be able to go to a bowl. Let’s hope so, for his sake at least…

jsmith

November 19th, 2010
8:14 am

$200,000.00 is still not enough money for someone to spend the best 4 years of his life in a place like auburn alabama.

WDE

November 19th, 2010
8:19 am

G’Vegas Dog- where have you been? have you not been hearing the reports that AU has not been implicated? The worst AU will get is vacated wins (which still means you lost to AU this year…it doesnt give you a victory) There have been NCAA investigators saying there is not enough evidence right now to do anything, and reports today Newton is expected to play in the IB. Let last week’s beatdown go.

Drago

November 19th, 2010
8:24 am

With Uzomah playing so many positions, it is really causing havoc with Awbarn’s pay scale.

tide roll

November 19th, 2010
8:32 am

Richt/Bobo: Now’s your chance. If in fact Auburn is in trouble with the NCAA, and if Auburn recruited him as a wide receiver, change your offensive philosophy and go after the kid as a QB ! The comparisons to Cam Newton are obvious. I get the impression that in spite of what Newton just did to them, Richt/Bobo would still recruit him as a tight end. I’ll bet you they’ve offered Uzomah, but as a tight end !! Incredible. If Richt and Bobo aren’t willing to adjust their system to fit this kid, they should be replaced. No wonder Uga gets it handed to them!

Sharpsburg Dawg

November 19th, 2010
8:57 am

Hey Tide Roll,

Maybe Bama should change their whole offensive system to accommodate a guy like that?? We have a superb QB in Aaron Murray, and an excellent incoming QB in Christian LeMay.

South GA

November 19th, 2010
9:03 am

The North Gwinnett/Tift County game in 2006 is still the worst officiated game I’ve ever seen.

dap01

November 19th, 2010
9:03 am

I wonder if the probation will be up before his eligibility is up.

jsmith

November 19th, 2010
9:06 am

hey south ga at least you have gotten over it

dawgster

November 19th, 2010
9:21 am

Tide Roll…go ahead and answer the question…why doesn’t Saban and company change their offense and get this young man?….If you truly are a Bama fan, you would want this, but i suspect as i always have that you are not a Bama fan…Just my opinion…but i will agree he is a great athlete…

South GA

November 19th, 2010
9:29 am

I went just to see it as an impartial spectator. I didn’t care who won. That said, it’s still the worst.

tide roll

November 19th, 2010
9:29 am

Sharpsburg Dawg. Your 5′11′ 180 lb. QB refuses to step up in the pocket, and is now throwing “gingerly” on the sidelines. Uzomah projects as a 6′6″ 250 lb physical freak. “Boca” and “BooBoo” need to sign the kid and build their offense around him NOW ! Did you even watch the Auburn game!? Now, just like Cam Newton, Uga stands by and empowers their hated rival again! It’s absolutely nuts!

juvenal

November 19th, 2010
9:36 am

10:07 somewhere……….

tide roll

November 19th, 2010
9:39 am

Dawgster. the kid doesn’t project as an “athlete”, he projects, obviously, as a “Spread Option Quarterback.” JUST LIKE CAM NEWTON AT AUBURN!. Sheesh.

G'Vegas Dawg

November 19th, 2010
9:42 am

WDE – I can take 1 out of 5 without a problem. If you think that this whole thing is over with sCam, then let that be your solice. Trust me, it’s a long way from over. Cam will play it on out from here. The NCAA told Auburn they risked having to face stiffer penalty on this if it turns out he was ineligible. They told AU it was likely he was ineligible the day Pops made the offer if all the stories held up. The Pres and Associate AD and people in Compliance all said they should sit Cam . The whole situation is bad…the people who should have the most say in this were overridden and the guys pulling the strings from days gone by are now in control. Just like the good ole days. One of the key players in all of this said in an off the record moment something to the effect…”hell boy’s if were going down in flames we might as well go out on top”. 2 guesses who said that.

Aside from this situation…and somewhat in accordance with it is the other issue that the FBI has uncovered and is working in conjunction with the NCAA to uncover. It just so happens some guys involved in a major corruption scheme had serious ties to an Auburn athletic funding program. From what I gathered some of these guys were caught in this investigation and possibly and mostly likely the FBI has recorded items from the investigation. Thus linking certain members of said corruption involved in detailed talks with other former and current AU staff and or low level boosters on other pay for play deals. Along with this was a possible sting operation the FBI was setting up out of Memphis dealing with a couple of these “agent”types who were steering athletes to certain schools for thier own benefit. I think the NCAA has gotten the FBI’s nose all in this stuff. Hope this somewhat quenches some folks thirst for knowledge on here tonight as far as Camgate goes.

Well hows this for info then since it seems I regurgitated a lot of info. They have a current AU coach on a 3 way call with one of these fellas. Saying “straight up, we just need 200k to finish out this class…is that all???yeah, book it top 3 crootin class for these Tigers… your the man…you know its how we do it”.

Aside from Cam :

the recruiting class AU pulled last year set off more red flags… bells and whistles or all out code red alarms with the NCAA than anything. The way they did it…the way they flaunted it…the way they set it into motion. The NCAA already had 2 AU principals under their eye. This stuff didn’t just pop up.

You have to remember also. The NCAA does not make money from college football. They don’t give a crap if Auburn burns itself to the ground. The SEC on the other hand…completely different story. I trust that Slive is an honorable man. I don’t know where he failed to read the winds of change blowing on the plains. Maybe it happened so quick he didn’t have time to figure it out. I got a feeling they feel like they had the stall door opened on them, with their pants around their ankles. Either way it will be interesting to see if aside from the Cam situation how much of the SEC landscape is adjusted because of this.

Brian

November 19th, 2010
9:46 am

I was at that Tift-NGHS game and it truly was one on the worst officiating displays I have ever seen, I’m surprised another person remembers that.

This kid is very versatile and does seem to embrace coaching. I would compare him to the QB from Nevada, Kaepernick (sp?), both kids are big, long striders that have arms suited for the spread. C.J. has great feel for the deep ball and plenty of arm to stretch the field vertically. Not a true burner, but fast and big enough to get the job done.

I’m excited to see how they use him at Auburn and how he matches up if he does play WR/TE exclusively. At this level hardly any player can cover him due to his physical size advantage over them.

armenchuck

November 19th, 2010
9:47 am

This kid sounds like a serious playmaker! I would love to UGA make a legit late push for this guy and other play makers like him. Go DAWGS!

VRdawg

November 19th, 2010
9:56 am

Tide roll, Richt/Bobo did offer Uzomah and LeMay commited to UGA first. Obviously, Uzomah feels more comfortable in Auburns scheme. Just because Newton did well in Auburns system does not mean UGA needs to change there system for Uzomah.

dawgster

November 19th, 2010
9:57 am

Again Tide Roll…why hasn’t Bama stepped up to the plate with this kid?…alot of us would like you to answer that question…Did you actually make the comment about Murray and him throwing “gingerly on the sidelines, he has an injury..not sure what your point there was, other than maybe saying if he was bigger or in a diffferent offense…give us a break…You seem to have this thing against the dawgs and all of your blogs are pretty much an attack on UGA…i don’t recall you ever talking about your Bama Team..its always an attack on the dawgs…Just what is your agenda?..I mean we get your point, you made it over and over and over and over and over and over on several occasions. But you have a right to your opinion…I wonder what you would be saying now had Newton signed with the dawgs, what would you be saying about him and our Coaching staff if these allegations prove to be true and he happened to be a dawg. Lets just face it, you have no use for the dawgs and thats fine, we all get that, so just support whoever your team is and let the dawg nation worry about the dawgs….go dawgs

tide roll

November 19th, 2010
9:58 am

Hell yeah armenchuck!

dawgster

November 19th, 2010
10:03 am

Heck yeah VRdawg…you are right on….go dawgs

RESIGN OR RE-SIGN?

November 19th, 2010
10:15 am

Good one, jsmith! LOL

Exley DAWG

November 19th, 2010
10:16 am

Is that a $100 bill hanging from his pocket?

RESIGN OR RE-SIGN?

November 19th, 2010
10:17 am

Kid was All-Region as a WR as a soph!

dawgster

November 19th, 2010
10:19 am

I also see that AU has not committed to the young man playing QB either….read the transcript above…The young man will probably do well in a spread type offense, thats not what the dawgs run…Neither does Bama, last years NC’s…there may come a point, when i don’t know where the dawgs look at more of a spread type offense, but the type of players that can run that offense the way fla and Au have takes a special player, everyone is not a Cam Newton or Tebow…so when you change the entire offensive system, you are going to lose out of some very talented QB’s that are pro-style players…Look at the NFL, you see what they run and thats what these kids that have that type of talent are looking for if they want to make it to the next level…There are a few that do well coming from the spread offenses, but right now its very few that make it as QB’s in the NFL. You know when everything is said and done, we may say later, should have signed the guy as a QB, but you try and get players that fit your system and right now the dawgs run a pro-style offense…

Jay

November 19th, 2010
10:24 am

LOL, all this Auburn probation stuff is cracking me up. They were cleared a week ago, and the focus is now squarely on MSU (and a GA at Bama). That’s why the Newtons were allowed to let their lawyer speak yesterday — the investigation at Auburn has ended.

Mark Richt

November 19th, 2010
10:33 am

We think this kid has a lot of potential as a right tackle, he doesn’t have quick enough feet to play on the left side.

gk

November 19th, 2010
10:35 am

Yeah, there is no chance that Auburn goes on probation…There is a chance that Newton is declared ineligible, which would mean they would be given a loss for all the games they won this year, but AU isn’t in trouble or being investigated. Newton is

jack bull

November 19th, 2010
10:50 am

chip, sorry to point this out on here, but, your competition for tonight, CSS, has a pretty dadgum good football game on too. Valdosta at McEachern..not to mention the number of pretty big recruits that will be on display…

i guess i’ll be flipping back and forth..

GT Sambo

November 19th, 2010
11:00 am

Would like to see this kid running Paul Johnson’s offense at GT.

ryan Red & Black

November 19th, 2010
11:08 am

I don’t see UGA going after Uzomah because we are focused on Bray . i would like see UGA to go after him if AU was placed on probation .

GT Sambo

November 19th, 2010
11:09 am

By the way, its a joke for those who think that Auburn would get the “death penalty”. Do some research on the NCAA death penalty. The last time it was issued to a school in football, it not only took down that school but also contributed to the demise of its entire conference. Think about that UGA fans, before you go calling for Auburn to get the death penalty.

War Eagle

November 19th, 2010
11:14 am

Let’s learn from our mistakes and not send any text message or get Kenny Rogers involved. I’d be willing to give this kid 50 K. All kidding aside, he looks to be an incredible athlete. Another player that GA will be wondering why they didn’t get. Have fun in Shreveport this year guys.

Mike Mc

November 19th, 2010
11:25 am

Weak at GB from Sullivan to Newton? Jason Campbell was a First Round pick!

dawgfacedboy

November 19th, 2010
11:36 am

Too bad he’s commited to a school that will probably get the death penalty before he earns his degree or goes pro. Might want to rethink that CJ.

South GA

November 19th, 2010
11:40 am

Brian, it was that bad. I can’t help but remember how bad it was.

ryan Red & Black

November 19th, 2010
11:51 am

I dont’t think AU will get the death penalty they most likely get probation and will some scholarships if that happens .

Chris

November 19th, 2010
12:03 pm

My sources tell me this guy is going to auburn. But Bama would be glad to have this guy also. Wonder how his recruiting will pan out

Coach KS

November 19th, 2010
12:05 pm

TideRoll. Did Auburn even recruit this kid as a quarterback? NO. Maybe you haven’t noticed that the Au-UGA games for the last 5 years have gone 4-1 UGA. Why overhaul an offense for one player? You would need a surrounding cast to be efficient. We’ll see next week what Bama does against Newton. If you lose (which you will) an underdog AT HOME!!! I guess your answer will be for Saban to change his offense since Newton torched Bama. Obviously your football knowledge could fit on the end of a needle. Colleges DO NOT change an offense for a high school player that has yet to face competition like the SEC.

Delbert D.

November 19th, 2010
12:06 pm

@10:19 am “but you try and get players that fit your system and right now the dawgs run a pro-style offense…”

Georgia’s backup QB is a spread offense guy, the Rich Propst Hoover High spread.

bigtime

November 19th, 2010
12:07 pm

@tide roll, why do you care so much about $cam Newton? Are you a Bama fan or a poser. You sound orange and blue through and through. Just asking. Roll Tide

VRdawg

November 19th, 2010
12:12 pm

War Ealge, UGA washed their hands of Cam Newton a long time ago. Its a shame the way his father allegedly pimped him out. And Richt’s idea of him being a tight end is petty smart. He is 6′6″ and the way he moves is amazing. You know there was a quarterback named Matt Jones who played for Arkansas that went to the NFL. Do you remember what position he ended up playing?

PHIL

November 19th, 2010
12:13 pm

Hey TIDE ROLL, it’s not like your team has an all star QB, why don’t YOU recruit him?

jaglaw

November 19th, 2010
12:39 pm

It amazes me how many AU fans have their heads in the sand. AU is not in the clear, merely nothing had been mentioned of them as of the UGA game. AU has been on probation 6 times in the last 30 years. If FSU got probation and voided wins for cheating on a test. USC got punished for the Bush violations. I cant imagine that AU wont get hit very hard. THE FBI HAS WIRE TAPS!!! These taps involve AU’s recruitment of Newton via a booster. Thats all they need. In time they may link an AU staff member …..just making it worse.

camcat

November 19th, 2010
12:46 pm

Did he play in last years Camden County and North Gwinett game? I was wondering what happened if he did. Camden won 35-0!!!!!!!!!!

Dawggie

November 19th, 2010
12:49 pm

Now just wait a scond Aubrun folks…

1) Gene Chiznik has an absolute pathetic W/L record coming into this job.

2) Auburn was a below average SEC team for the last two years,

3) Does nobody else want to remember that it sure was strange how the nations top RB from Arkansas committed to a sub .500 team AND how M. Lattimore almost did the same thing?

Im not saying hat its impossible that AU landed the top rated RB in the country. and I’m not saying its possible that AU landed the top rated JUCO player in the same recruiting class. But I am saying that it is very odd in the recruiting world that a sub par program that can’t ever win the NC due to always being in trouble with the NCAA, can somehow be lead to greatness by a coach that doesnt even rank high enough to be considered sub par.

And don”t anyone forget, Gus Malzhatan was smack dab in the middle of the garbage at Arkansas that sent 3 of his highly recruited players (that were his high school kids) transferring away from Little Rock and cost Houston Nutt his job.

Usually where theres smoke theres fire BUT, everytime theres a rotten smell its always due to something rotten.

Want to bet that every committ to AU is being called and reminded of the truthful and undeniable FACTS? Newton will use this season to garner a first round pick and he will never look back. AU will regret this season for many years to come and Chiznik will be begging for a pathetic Iowa State job soon.

This whole scenario does remind me of the movie “Tommy Boy” remember when david spade says “lots of people go to school for 8 years, they are called Doctors”. Anyone remember just when Cam Newton graduated from high school? Sure seems like every other player from his class is out of college already…just sayin