THE TEN AT 10:
1. I went down to Hampton this past weekend to catch the Atlanta MVP Camp being conducted at Lovejoy High and came away extremely impressed on a lot of levels. Mainly there was just an awesome amount of talent there. Nearly 360 players showed up, most of them rising seniors and juniors, from all over the state and beyond. Fortunately the rain stayed away long enough to let this big group get in all their work. Here’s A PHOTO GALLERY by the AJC’s Jason Getz to get an idea of what it was like.
A name you’re surely going to hear much more of in the coming months is JaQuay Williams. The 6-foot-2 (and change), 200-pound wide receiver from Sandy Creek High (by way of Heard County, more on that later) walked away with some significant hardware following the four-hour camp. He was named the camp’s top overall performer and top wide receiver. Taking into account the talent that was there at the wideout position, that’s particularly impressive. Among the receivers were Miami commitment Jontavious Carter of Crisp County, Jason Crooms of Norcross, Lassiter’s Charlie Hegedus and Marqui Hawkins and Artimus Samuel of Carver-Columbus, to name a few.
“I knew I was capable of it, but didn’t really expect it,” said Williams, who was pretty much unstoppable during one-on-one drills. “I just competed. I came out here and had fun. I’m trying to get everybody in the country to know who I am.”
A lot of folks already have an idea. Williams has at least one dozen offers so far, including Auburn, Clemson, Ohio State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia Tech. He said Auburn and Ohio State are generally giving him the most attention but he also likes Georgia and Tennessee a lot.
It sounds like Williams may be leaning slightly toward the Buckeyes, a team he said he has liked “since I was a little kid.” He’s taking a trip to Ohio State on April 5.
“I’m just trying to see how the wide receiver coaches coach and all that,” said Williams, who had 85 catches for 1,570 yards and 19 TDs over three seasons at Heard County. “I grew up liking Ohio State and Georgia. But that doesn’t mean anything when I’m trying to decide what to do with the rest of my life.”
The Bulldogs have not offered, Williams said. “But I hear from them all of the time. I talk to them every week. They have a lot of interest in me.”
2. Williams wasn’t the only one to walk away a winner Saturday. Others to leave with “Top Performer” trophies included Troup linebacker Reuben Foster, Sandy Creek running back Mike Hilton, Tri-Cities offensive lineman Shamire DeVine, defensive lineman Henry McClendon of Cleveland, Tenn.; quarterback Jonathan Wallace of Phenix City, Ala.; and defensive back Shaq Wiggins of Sandy Creek. Williams, a rising junior who played last season at Westlake, also was tabbed Top Overall Underclassman.
Also, four players earned automatic invites into the RisingSeniors.com’s Georgia Junior Bowl next January. They were Buford offensive lineman Josh Cardiello, Darlington quarterback Brad Butler, DeVine and Foster.
There were several other players that made their presence known but didn’t earn special recognition afterward, in my opinion. Among them were outside linebacker Kenderius Whitehead of Monroe Area, defensive and offensive lineman Quinteze Williams of Sandy Creek and defensive lineman Jordan Watkins of Woodward Academy, who had to leave before the elite competition commenced.
Also, I thought Croom might have been the best receiver out there, an offensive tackle named Freddie Burden of Statesboro did a great job, tackle Preston Mobley of Colquitt County did well, a quarterback named Steven Bench of Bainbridge was impressive as was North Gwinnett’s Scotty Hosch. And Quinteze Williams is as good an athlete you’ll find. He could start on either side of the line at the next level.
Some notables that came out of the testing portion of the camp: Hegedus and Hilton each ran 4.4s; big Columbia running back Kenno Loyal recorded a 4.52; and the fastest 40 time of the day came from a freshman. Adam Choice of Thomas County Central ran a 4.37. He is the younger brother of former Tech star Tashard Choice.
3. Here’s another interesting side note: Sandy Creek, which won the Class AAAA state title in 2009 and Class AAA last year, is going to be tough to knock off next season. The Fighting Patriots can boast the day’s top overall performer and top receiver in JaQuay Williams, top defensive back and top underclassman in Wiggins and top running back in Hilton. Both Williams (Heard County) and Wiggins (Westlake) just recently transferred into Sandy Creek. Quinteze Williams moved to Tyrone in the middle of last season and word is a couple more elite athletes are coming in as well. Seems some of the best players around are wanting to play for coach Chip Walker and his staff.
4. So the MVP Camp moves on. Its next stop is in Prattville, Ala., on April 23. Registration for that event has already opened at theMVPcamp.com. Another one is tentatively planned for South Carolina, likely in June.
5. Of course, it’s the time of year for camps and combines and the like. I ran into former Georgia and NFL star Robert Edwards down in Hampton and he was telling me about a camp that he and a couple of his friends are conducting in early April. Edwards’ STAR Training Academy will be holding “mini-camps” April 4-7 at Tri-Cities High and April 9-10 and 16-17 at Roswell High. Among the folks helping out Edwards with his camps are former Auburn and NFL star linebacker Takeo Spikes and “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity (and part-time NFL player) Hines Ward. “I’ve got to get onto him for those suspenders,” Edwards cracked about Ward’s first outfit on the popular TV show.
Incidentally Edwards, who had to retire from football after suffering a devastating knee injury during Pro Bowl festivities in 1999, actually hurt his other knee playing pick-up basketball recently and was wearing a brace. He may have to have surgery. Meanwhile, as you’ve probably read, he’s now the head football coach at Arlington Christian School in Fairburn. So he’s pretty busy. . . . Also caught up with Edwards’ younger brother and fellow former Bulldog Terrance Edwards, who was also at Lovejoy. He’s still playing professional football as a wide receiver in the Canadian Football League.
6. Rivals.com is holding its VTO Georgia Elite 100 Camp on April 9 at Marietta High School. According to Kipp Adams of UGASports.com, practically every elite prospect in the state is going to be in attendance (hence the name), including several that participated in the MVP Camp. Among the top prospects who have already committed to participate are: Pepperell DT Dakota Ball, C.J. and Darius Curry of North Hall, Jarontay Jones and Jafar Mann of Stephenson, Jonathan Taylor of Jenkins County and Justin Taylor of Booker T. Washington.
7. Georgia signee Justin Scott-Wesley recently lost a race in a track meet for the first time since 2009. The two-time defending Class AA state champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dash lost in the 200 to Shawn Samuels of Bainbridge by one-hundredth of a second, 22.14 to 22.15. Scott-Wesley said Samuels, a UAB signee as a cornerback, also posted a better time in the 100 meters, though they ran in different heats.
Overall, Scott-Wesley’s times are down from last season, when he set the all-classification state record in the 100 meters (10.35) and the also won the state 200 in 21.575. But Scott-Wesley isn’t too shaken up about it. He said he somewhat expected it since dedicating himself to a football training regimen in preparation for reporting to Georgia as a wide receiver in the June.
“Hitting the weight room has put a few pounds on me,” Scott-Wesley said. “I’m weighing in at 215 right now. I’m off my averages a little bit.”
Nevertheless, Scott-Wesley pointed out that the real races will be run in May at the state track and field championships in Jefferson.
8. Is there a football-basketball battle brewing at South Carolina? It would seem so. Freshman Bruce Ellington, a point guard and the leading scorer (12.8 ppg/3 apg) for basketball coach Darrin Horn, has decided to also play football. Ellington was a terrific football player in Moncks Corner, S.C., and wants to play both sports.
Apparently that spurred a local columnist to write that coach Steve Spurrier was poaching Horn’s best player. That, as you might imagine, didn’t sit well with Spurrier, who called the notion “totally incorrect” and “a fabrication” in this Charleston Post and Courier article.
Horn also downplayed the situation. “It’s not a football-basketball thing,” he said. “I know people are going to try to make it that.”
In any case, the 5-foot-9 Ellington sounds to be every bit as good a football player as he is a basketball player. He starred at quarterback in high school but is likely to contribute in college as a defensive back and possibly receiver or kick returner. Ellington’s Berkely High coach, Jerry Brown, called Ellington the best football player he’s ever coached.
9. Obviously there has been a lot of basketball news this week, with Georgia Tech and Tennessee both hiring new head coaches. In case you missed I wrote a piece Monday on the recruiting reputation of new Yellow Jackets’ coach Brian Gregory. And AJC high schools reporter Michael Carvell filed reports on Tech signee Julian Royal waiting to meet Gregory before deciding his future and Tennessee signee Kevin Ware’s intentions to continue to seek a scholarship release despite the Vols’ acquisition of Cuonzo Martin as coach. Earlier this week Carvell also wrote a nice piece on the travails of Miller Grove’s Henry Brooks, who suffered a late-season knee injury but is going to end up landing on his feet due to his strong academic foundation.
10. THIS & THAT: Remember, you can tune in to watch Georgia hoops stars Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville and Shannon Scott of Milton as they participate in the 2011 McDonald’s All-American Game tomorrow night in Chicago. The game tips at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN. Caldwell-Pope is a Georgia signee and Scott inked with Ohio State. . . . LB Joseph Jackson (6-1, 205) of First Coast in Jacksonville, Fla., committed to West Virginia last week. He had an offer from Georgia Tech. . . . For what it’s worth, Georgia defensive end Jeremy Longo, who was recently forced to give up football due to shoulder and knee injuries, was ranked No. 24 in the nation at his position coming out of high school in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. . . .
Among the visitors for Georgia’s Junior Day this past weekend were St. Pius athlete Geno Smith and Raleigh running back Keith Marshall. I will have updates on both prospects in the coming day. . . . I’m not officially counting Jalen Fields and Lonnie Outlaw as 2012 commitments for UGA just yet. But Georgia Military College coach Bert Williams said “they’re supposed to be heading there.” The school is currently on spring break but more on that later in the week. . . . Stephenson DB Kyle Fleetwood added offers from Southern Miss and South Florida this week. Teammate Darreon Herring landed an opportunity from Wake Forest. . . . FSU has offered Columbia’s Loyal and Jhaustin Thomas. . . . Another camp scheduled for later this summer is the Fellowship Football camp June 23-26 at Riverwood High School in Sandy Spring. You can register at fellowshipsports.org.