Brock Vandagriff: 5-star commit has a legacy game against 5-time state champion ELCA
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry previews a vital game for 5-star Georgia commit Brock Vandagriff this week against 5-time Class A state champion Eagles Landing Christian Academy.
Imagine staring off into a bright and blazing sun. The shine is so bright one simply has to cover their eyes. That’s the visual to keep in mind for the big test anchor Georgia commit Brock Vandagriff and his Prince Avenue Christian Wolverines face this week in the third round of the state playoffs.
That shine would be the Eagles Landing Christian Academy football team. The Chargers have won five consecutive GHSA state titles and had won 67 of their last 68 games in Class A dating back to 2014.
As far as big playoff hurdles go, this one requires a fabled beanstalk to clear.
A cub reporter might size up that matchup and frame this as a game where Vandagriff shows he is worthy of that 5-star rank as the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat QB (247Sports Composite) for the 2021 class.
But that’s not it. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior did that awhile back.
Vandagriff authored that game last fall in the first round of the GHSA playoffs. ELCA faced its toughest test out of all those five state championship runs. The future Georgia QB had missed time due to a broken fibula that caused him to miss almost two months of the season.
Eagles Landing Christian won 62-57 in a game where those on hand will never forget.
That was the 5-star-and-then-some resume game.
“There was the feeling that night that we could just not stop him,” Eagles Landing Christian coach Jonathan Gess said. “We had no answers.”
The AJC’s Todd Holcomb noted it was the third-highest scoring game in GHSA playoff history.
Vandagriff completed 29 of 46 passes for 525 yards and six touchdowns. He ran for 79 yards and another two scores.
“He was just phenomenal man,” Gess said. “I’ve said Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence about him that night because I’ve watched those two guys. That’s how Brock Vandagriff is. He’s just that much better than everybody else.”
DawgNation has heard about Vandagriff’s play that night ever since. The widespread take was that Vandagriff had at least eight to 10 throws that were the stuff of a future multi-year starter in the SEC.
“It is not just a quarterback and he can throw,” Gess said. “He’s a physical specimen. Our outside linebackers bounced off him last year. He’s hard to tackle. Guys are like ‘go hit him in the mouth and see how he plays.’ I’m like ‘Dude he will probably hurt you if you keep trying to do that’ and then he’s a tough kid. I think the most impressive thing about the kid for me was something else, though.”
This wasn’t about the arm. Or the wheels. Or his strength level that will soon set a school record with a 320-pound power clean.
“A lot of these kids are arrogant and full of themselves,” Gess said. “He never taunted our team but he got his team fired up. You rarely see what he did that night. You just don’t see it very often and that’s a team rally behind one individual. It has got to be the quarterback but I sat there and thought I don’t know how we won that night because I saw a team of kids play at a level that was beyond imagination all because of the leadership and the presence that he brought to that team.”
“It was awesome to sit back and watch. The way one person can impact a team.”
ELCA led the Wolverines 28-14 at halftime. Vandagriff led his side back with 43 points the rest of the way.
In his opinion, no quarterback has ever shredded an ELCA defense the way Vandargiff did that night.
Not even former No. 1 overall QB Davis Mills when he was at Greater Atlanta Christian before going on to start now at Stanford.
Brock Vandagriff and his GHSA legacy heading into ELCA
The rematch on Friday night at Prince Avenue Christian is something else entirely. It will be the chance for the golden boy QB to sharply define his own Georgia high school football legacy. Vandagriff can cement himself as one of the very top-shelf quarterbacks in Georgia high school football history with a state title march in 2020.
- 29-5 record as the starter of record for PAC
- 68 percent completion rate for 9,270 career passing yards
- 101 career touchdown passes against 16 interceptions
- 3,342 yards, 40 touchdown passes and six interceptions so far as a senior
- 45 rushing scores and another four receiving scores. That adds up to a total responsibility of 150 touchdowns across 45 career varsity games.
- He was a primary WR for all 11 games of his freshman season
Prince Avenue Christian has never won a state football title. Brock’s father, Greg, has never advanced beyond the state semifinals in a well-respected coaching career that includes a 53-9 run at Prince across his nine seasons.
He’s won a state baseball championship, but not a football title. Brock Vandagriff has said many times that it would be a special moment for his team to make that happen this year. The 5-star QB has even acknowledged that a state football title, or not winning one, will stick with him well beyond his playing days.
So…..no pressure this week, right?
Vandagriff’s perspective on the matter at hand sounds like the way his head coach and future head coach would want him to size it all up.
“Same mindset it has been all year,” Vandagriff told DawgNation this week. “Move the chains and be productive. Just another playoff game. It’s tough to think about the small things when you know you’re playing the five-time defending state champs. But we feel like if we give it our all we will be pleased with the outcome.”
His team is better than last year’s group. The Wolverines are basically the same on offense, but have improved upfront on the defensive side of the ball. Those guys who remembered that sting of 62-57 are all a year bigger, faster, stronger and maybe even saltier about a rematch.
Prince Avenue is No. 1 in the Class A public rankings. ELCA, of course, is ranked No. 2.
“We’re very much locked in, to say the least,” Brock Vandagriff said. “Not much new stuff going on in the season when you are in the third round of the playoffs. [Just] polishing the things we do and making sure we fit right on defense and are where we need to be on offense. Everybody at Prince Avenue is looking forward to this game.”
Opposing view: How good is Brock Vandagriff really?
Vandagriff stands a good chance of cracking the 10,000 career passing yards mark if Prince Avenue plays just a couple more playoff games.
If he hits that mark, he will become just the fifth GHSA quarterback to ever do that. The names at the top of the Georgia High School Football Historians Association’s record books are Trevor Lawrence (13,902 yards), Deshaun Watson (13,077) and Jake Fromm (12,745) for all-time passing yards.
Vandagriff’s assault on those records books has been stunted by playing just eight games his junior year due to that broken fibula. He was also a starting wide receiver as a freshman in 2017. He just doesn’t have enough games.
He can move into sixth-place all-time with a typical 300-yard passing effort this week against ELCA. He’s No. 9 in career touchdown passes. The senior QB can wind up No. 6 or No. 7 overall if he plays in three more games and puts up his typical numbers.
Gess, the ELCA coach, has won six state championships and 153 games in his 14 seasons.
He doesn’t need to see the record books to know where Vandagriff ranks historically in his scouting opinion.
“He’s a phenom and he’s been that way since his sophomore year,” Gess said. “Every now and then, Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, there’s just that kid. He’s better than everybody. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
He initially saw him as a starting receiver as a freshman. In his mind, he was the best receiver on the team already. So physical. He pegged him as a future Division I wide receiver.
“I just came away thinking he was tough,” Gess said. “This is a tough kid. I didn’t know he was a quarterback. I just saw the type of athlete he was.”
Gess mentioned parallels with Lawrence and Watson a couple of times in his evaluation of Vandagriff.
“He still needs to go do it at the next level,” he said. “He’s got to go do it in college and I’m sure that he will. But I tell everybody all the time like this kid is that good.”
Lawrence. Watson. Vandagriff. Those names all belong in the same sentence for him.
“He’s absolutely the type of player as those guys,” Gess said. “Through 7-on-7s and doing all-star games you run into those guys and you watch those guys. That’s just kind of what he reminded me of.”
“I remember Deshaun Watson scrambling in an all-star game and making these 4 and 5-star guys look silly. Kind of like he still does in the NFL. Brock’s the same way. I know everyone will think of Single-A football but we had a kid committed to Nebraska last year and we had [future Georgia Bulldog receiver] Justin Robinson as a 6-foot-4 wide receiver who went to Georgia last year who also played safety for us. Brock is doing this against Division 1 players that I have and he’s making them look silly. That’s when you instantly get credibility from us.”
Gess brought up another name. This time it was the 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick out of LSU.
“He’s a tremendous leader and has a big-time arm and he’s way more athletic than you think he is,” Gess said. “Like Joe Burrow. Everyone knows how intelligent he is. I think there is a big comparison there with Brock and Joe Burrow. He’s way more athletic than most think. He’s tough. I really think Brock is like that. Like Joe Burrow. Maybe a little bit stronger physically, too.”
Vandagriff threw for 494 yards and seven TDs in a game earlier this year.
In this correspondent’s eyes, some of that film highlights the biggest improvements for Vandagriff in 2020. That would be the number of deep balls he’s completing this fall.
It blows the mind. If the PACS staff has a stat tracking his completion percentage on downfield shots of more than 25 yards, the belief here is that number would also be well over 60 percent, too.
“It has just been insane,” Gess said. “He was on the right hash in one game and he hit a kid running a corner route on the left hash in the back of the end zone. Probably about a 45-yard pass from the right hash to the left corner of the end zone. I don’t how you defend that. Except tell your DB to play it at 60 yards deep. The kid is crazy, man. Those are NFL-type throws he is making this year, man.”
This one captured by Dayne Young of Rivals.com certainly reflects that sentiment.
— Dayne Young (@dayneyoung) December 5, 2020
It should be a good one at 8 P.M. on Friday night at Prince Avenue Christian. The game will be broadcast live on Peachtree TV.
“The thing for me is you are not going to stop Brock Vandagriff,” Gess said. “People are like how are you going to stop him. You’re not going to stop him. You just hope his receivers drop a few balls. The cool thing is you get to play that guy in a big game. The cool thing out of this is you will then get to watch him in his journey forward.”
“You’re in the moment right now, but hopefully five years from now you will get to see his career continue to climb and you will be able to say ‘Oh yeah we played that guy’ just like a guy on our staff now does when he talks about playing against Trevor Lawrence. We’ll be watching him in the NFL and rooting for him at Georgia so it is just exciting to be able to compete against that guy.”
(the recent reads on DawgNation.com)
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