“That’s just something that is so uncommon,” Stockton said. “Somebody that is 6 feet and 7 inches tall but yet they still look athletic. They still look athletic at 310-320 pounds and at just 17 or 18 years old. A young man that has that much athleticism and that much size is incredible. It is literally a gift from God. Good parents, too. I think that’s probably the best thing that I could say here about him.”
Mims has been told all his life to take it easy on his friends when he’s playing with them. That he could hurt somebody. He couldn’t go all out in practice every day for his high school team. If he did, he would send two or three bodies per week to the training room.
And those would have been the only guys big enough to even line up on the boards with him. The paradox here is that he was then told every Friday night on the field to let loose. Get after it. Elite football players play as they practice.
Mims has never been able to practice full tilt every day without fear of injuring his teammates.
The wonder here is what he will be able to accomplish when he doesn’t have to hold back as he works to get better every day. He won’t have to hold back at Georgia or in the SEC.
Those are going to be stronger and tougher men. Older men. But still nobody with that blessed blend of all that size and all that speed.
“His responsibilities have been very well taken care of on the football from everything we were able to see and study,” Stockton said with a clear understatement. “And then some.”
Here is a slice of delicious irony: Mims will at least intersect with Gunner Stockton in Athens for the 2022 and 2023 seasons. He looks like the definition of a three-and-out player.
Mims will be part of an offensive line group charged with protecting all QBs at Georgia. That will include 5-star Brock Vandagriff from the 2021 class and young Stockton in 2022.
“Every play we see of him on tape is an amazement to me,” Stockton said. “There’s the bend he’s got in his stance, then there’s the quick first step he’s got coming out of his stance. Being able to reach a ‘5’ technique from the tackle position is what you don’t ever see. You play against people that have some big kids a lot. You see a lot of big kids but the athleticism he wields with all that size is just special.”
Have you subscribed to the DawgNation YouTube channel yet? If so, you will be able to see special 1-on-1 interviews with Jake Fromm, Gunner Stockton and Brock Vandagriff. You will only be able to find it on the DawgNation YouTube channel.
Who will ever forget when Amarius Mims chose UGA and put on the big “commitment chain” on his birthday? (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Part II: Believe the hype train on Amarius Mims
John Ford is the new head coach at Effingham County High School in Southeast Georgia. That’s located in the Greater Savannah Metro area.
Ford has crisscrossed the state over the last several seasons. He was one of the most well-respected coaches in the Metro Atlanta area during his time at Buford and Roswell. Ford was 61-17 in two of the toughest pressure cookers in the state.
He led back-to-back Roswell teams to the state finals in 2015 and 2016. After a two-year-stint at Buford, he took somewhat of a sabbatical working as the defensive coordinator for Von Lassiter’s excellent staff at Bleckley County.
Big City Georgia. Middle Georgia. The Coastal Empire area of Georgia. He’s seen almost it all in the state, but nothing quite like Mims. Ford sharpens the scouting report here.
“God took some of his best materials and molded this offensive lineman with the best God-given set of tools and the very best lump of clay God could ever put together,” Ford said. “Size. Strength. Quick-twitch. Flexibility. I’d never seen it all with all of that there and at the same time checked the football part of that, too. Just excited about football. Playing the game the right way. Being a great teammate. Wanting to see his team do so well.”
“Baseball has those 5-tool players. But if this is football and offensive linemen, then he’s a 7-tool player.”
What’s his strongest tool? Even that is hard to peg.
“It is a combination of size and athleticism with his ability to bend,” Ford said. “A lot of guys that tall are kinda stiff and kind of lanky. Maybe not natural benders. Maybe they are most waist benders than they are knee benders. But he can get really low in a hurry. He can get his underhooks into people and snap his hips effortlessly and quickly. There’s not lethargy there. He moves that mass so quickly and efficiently. ”
“There’s no slow-twitch to anything he does. He’s smooth and kind of glides in pass protection, but then just twitchy and violent and physical in the run game.”
Right tackle? Left tackle? What’s the ideal position fit?
“He’s got the twitch and the length athleticism to play on the left side,” Ford said. “And he’s got the size and the demeanor like an Orlando Brown to play on the right side and down block if he wants to. You know the game has evolved so much with ‘Gun’ and ‘RPOs’ and getting the ball out quickly those two tackle positions are probably a little more interchangeable than they ever used to be unless you have a Tom Brady-type back there.”
Andrew Thomas started out as a right tackle at UGA. He also came in as a high school All-American. Thomas spent one season there and then two campaigns at left tackle in the SEC. His All-American work on a very big stage qualified him to go No. 4 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Mims could allow Georgia to be more right-handed in the run game and follow a similar path.
“You can put a tight end next to him early and protect him as he grows and learns,” Ford said. “But I think he’s such a gifted kid. Where ever they put him when he learns the system and all those things come together pretty quick, he’ll play and play well. Regardless of where they put him.”
Mims missed most of his sophomore year coming off a knee injury. He was basically a blocking tight end the rest of that season. He was a full-time tackle for the first time as a junior.
Something clicked in Mims around the fifth or sixth game. He faced Dublin and Washington County and some tough physical defensive lines.
“He realized I’m Mike Tyson and you may have a plan but I am going to bust you in the mouth and there’s not a thing you can do about it,” Ford said.
Nothing you can do about it? Pretty much. Consider the case of that penalty flag last fall.
“Just because it was a linebacker and he was working up to the second level,” Ford said. “The guy goes flying and I think the ref assumed it was a personal foul. They assumed Mims did something dirty and all he did was do what he was coached to do. He got up to the second level. He got there in a bad mood and hit a kid and he took that kid for a ride when he did. The kid, this linebacker, went flying. It was like a deer and an 18-wheeler and they called him for 15.”
“I had a clear view of it. He didn’t do anything illegal except block the mess out of the dude.”
Ford brought up an off-season Wednesday morning workout from a year ago. That was when he saw the full range of athleticism with Mims. It wasn’t quite a volleyball or a basketball game per se. More of a hybrid.
It was really a competition among the team to see which guys like to compete and will rally guys around them. Coaches design those to be fun, but also to find out who will be the vital team leaders in the fall.
“He went up off one foot in a basketball type of game,” Ford said. “It was his wrong foot and he caught like a volleyball and dunked it. Mims was where like his elbow was over the rim and his head almost hit the rim.”
Ford said his eyes made an effort to process that. It didn’t work out so well.
“To be 325 pounds and be able to put your head on the rim like you are Lebron James,” he said. “That just isn’t fair. I told our offensive coaches and Von [Lassiter] that we are dumb if we don’t throw it to him. There’s not a DB in the state who could go up for a jump ball with him and outrebound him for a ball in the end zone.”
Ford said the only player he’d seen with that level of athleticism is former Alabama ALL-SEC safety Xavier McKinney. McKinney was a second-round pick of the New York Giants in 202o. He coached McKinney at Roswell and likes to refer to him as “X” in casual conversation.
“X didn’t have the physical almost mutant-like ability that Mims has,” Ford said. “I say that as complementary to Mims. Not derogatory to X. X is 6-foot-1 and he was 200 in high school. He wasn’t like 6-foot-5 and 205 and could run as he did. But it is just how easy those two make things look on a football field. Smooth. It never looks like they are working hard. That’s how you know you’ve got a truly special player.”
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The unmistakable visual of Amarius Mims walking to a practice field. This was taken in August of 2020. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Part III: Mims does more than “block the mess” out of dudes
Lassiter, the head coach at Bleckley County, allows the chance to share another viewpoint.
The first thing we wanted to learn about was this: What was Mims like during the last game of his high school career?
Stockton and Rabun County eliminated Mims and the Royals 27-24 in overtime. It was a tough final high school game in Northeast Georgia in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
“He was steady as a rock for us during the game,” Lassiter said. “He really was communicating and encouraging all the people around him. We were trying to get some things figured out that they were doing to us in the game and our video wasn’t working. He was always the one that was communicating that coming off to the sidelines. He was bringing us the information from off the field and did a really good job of it and really stayed positive through the whole game.”
“After the game, he was crushed. Just the reality of your final high school game. When it hits you when you know it is all over. It is just something you just never can get back once it is gone. You can’t really duplicate it ever.”
Lassiter coached Jake Fromm and Trey Hill before their time in Athens.
“A lot of my guys who went on to Georgia would always still say there’s nothing like a Friday night,” he said. “To be that close and to lose in overtime. You could tell that he wanted to really have another week with his team and his teammates to go play another game. He just wanted one more week.”
Mims somehow even looks enormous even when he is crouched. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
Mims helped his teammates. Sorting through some looks Rabun was giving them crowding the box.
It adds more to his profile than just being the biggest and most athletic tackle anyone has ever seen.
Lassiter said Mims played the best football of his career in the state playoffs of his senior year.
“That’s saying something because there was a ceiling for him in high school football,” Lassiter said. “The competition there limited him. The guys he faced were just not anywhere on his level. It doesn’t mean those players weren’t that good. They were good players in front of him most Friday nights, but they were not on his level. They were not Division 1 players. Those were players that played hard. But if they lined up 100 times across from him, they still weren’t going to win any one of those.”
“People did some crazy stuff. There was one time where some people put a kid out there and they dove at his knees every play. He’s not going to have to deal with that in college now.”
Mims got better as a senior mentally. Handling people diving at his knees. Working with people trying to cut him from all angles. Let’s be clear here: This was the defensive side of the ball choosing to cut an offensive lineman on every play.
“Early on in his senior year, when people did that it really made him mad,” Lassiter said. “He got better mentally with that and played through it and got through it mentally on how to work around within all of that.”
The best reps he got all season were the ones he took against one of his teammates in practice.
“During the games, it was more like dealing with trying to figure out how people were going to try to take him out,” Lassiter said.
A consistent strategy did emerge. Teams would take one of their defenders totally out of the play to try to remove Mims. If they got a stalemate, it would prevent Mims from working on combo blocks and getting to the second level. There was no way he could then block at least two defenders on that play then.
Mims would still get at least 10 next-level or second-level blocks on linebackers in every game.
Lassiter has been blessed to coach three football players that belong on the All-Decade team for the state of Georgia. What do folks need to remember the most about Mims?
“I think he’s a special one that will be remembered forever,” Lassiter said. “He brought such a big personality and a lot of life to this program. He brought a lot of attention to this program it has never really had. He brought a lot of coaches to town here that our folks had never really ever met or seen recruit our players before.”
He says that will really last forever.
“It is in all the pictures that are going to sit on desks or be up on office walls,” Lassiter said. “Pictures of people that came to see us here but also pictures of Amarius with people and their kids. Pictures after the games. Pictures of people and his big smile that will live on up on Facebook and just memories that people will talk about for years and years around here. Then when you’re from around here and it is about a young man who’s from around here, then it all means just so much much more.”
“Something like what we saw here with him has never happened before. The chances are pretty good that it might never happen here again. He came through our doors here and we saw him grow and get better as a person and as a player. It’s just rewarding. He’s helped change the culture and outlook here. To be honest with you, we’re getting to the point now where football means a lot more to this community than it ever has before and he had a lot to do with that. He sure did. There are going to be stories and stories about Amarius Mims and the time he played here for Bleckley County that will last forever.”
Kind of like getting penalized 15 yards for the assumption of unnecessary roughness on an opposing linebacker.
“He was totally dominant on the field here but the stories I will remember the most are of nothing that happened on the field,” Lassiter said.
Mims was always around. He was always on time. In fact, he was always early for every meeting.
“I am going to miss him here in a big way,” Lassiter said.
He was such a prolific high school prospect there was no need to cut his HUDL highlight reels after his sophomore season. Nobody needed to see any more film to know they needed to pull out a maximum recruiting effort to try to sign Mims.
In a weird way, that shows the type of career Mims had at Bleckley County. There was no need to cut up a junior or senior year film of HUDL highlights to help him get noticed.
Nobody was going to miss Mims.
That’s the stuff that says maybe that 5-star rating was even selling it a little short.
This photo from early on in his junior year shows just how easy it has always been to spot Mims on a football field. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)