We’ll look ahead to a stacked week of big-time high school games this weekend as the high school football season really gets underway this week. There will be several marquee games across the Metro area to look forward to this weekend.
That will be a part of Thursday’s UGA Recruiting Rewind for DawgNation, but we start with a couple of updates that bode well for the future of the offensive line position at UGA.
1. Big Willie Allen has set one official visit
We’ll post a list soon of DawgNation’s Most Wanted (that is a good thing) recruits that remain for the 2016 UGA signing class. The concept is no breakthrough by any means, but the subject matter might be. When that list comes out the name Willie Allen will definitely be on it.
The 6-foot-7, 310-pounder plays for one of the most respected and successful high school football coaches in the country. The 4-star OL aspires to be a DEA or an FBI agent one day. When I spoke to him this week, he clearly had his senior football season on his mind and not much else. If he committed to UGA, he’d be the highest-ranking recruit on the board.
He said “faith” and “family” were priorities along with building a genuine relationship with his future coaches. Anyone who reads the story can’t help but think he sure sounds like a Mark Richt recruit. He’s also already got a budding friendship with that Eason fella.
2. OL has two Athenstown trips in mind
North Carolina 4-star Landon Dickerson might also make that list referenced above. The big thing with his game is versatility. He can likely play either guard or tackle in college, but he’s currently ranked as the nation’s No. 10 offensive tackle. UGA got a late start on Dickerson, but the staff has made up some ground.
The 6-foot-5, 293-pounder plans to take an unofficial visit to the South Carolina game and also is thinking an official visit in December or January. 247sports.com’s Crystal Ball currently pegs his most likely home to be Virginia Tech (landslide) and then followed by Florida State, South Carolina and Auburn.
Dickerson would be a reach even for the most optimistic UGA fan, but those chances should rise with big wins against South Carolina and Auburn. The key thing to keep in mind with Allen and Dickerson is UGA is graduating two senior tackles after this season.
3. Cleveland and Eason are official
UGA now has unlimited contact with high school seniors Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason. In documents obtained by the AJC, the UGA Athletic Association acknowledged that Cleveland and Eason had signed their financial aid agreements. That’s only possible because both of those commitments plan to enroll early at UGA in January.
Those documents bind UGA to reserve a scholarship for each player, but it does not bind the player to each school the way a letter-of-intent does. This development in not surprising as they committed back 13 months ago and have not wavered one iota since.
The AJC has been tracking early enrollees at UGA all summer. Peachtree Ridge DB Chad Clay, McEachern DT Julian Rochester and New Hanover (N.C.) TE Garrett Walston are also all expected to enroll early at UGA.
4. Sophomore Athens DB gets an offer
Ok, that might be too big of a tease but I can’t help but appreciate the fact walk-on sophomore CB Aaron Davis recently earned a scholarship offer from UGA. Since he’s already a part of the team, its safe to assume he bypassed all of that “solid verbal” stuff.
UGA head coach Mark Richt has his reasons for not making as big of a deal about presenting scholarships to walk-ons compared other schools, but it’s still a great moment to see a player earn a scholarship the very hard way.
5. Two UGA commitments have recovered from knee injuries
UGA commitments Darion Anderson and Chad Clay have both recovered from knee injuries that sidelined them during preseason drills. Clay proved to be a very fast healer as he sprained a knee earlier this month and still recovered in time to earn a game ball for Peachtree Ridge in a season-opening loss to Christ Presbyterian out of Tennessee.
Anderson tore his meniscus back in late May, but he was finally cleared to play and for full contact last Thursday. Anderson was UGA’s first commitment at receiver and that spot has swelled considerably over the last month. He’ll open his senior season at home for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against Veterans.
6. Name to file away
Scout.com’s Michael Clark reported on South Carolina junior safety Davondre Robinson earlier this week. Robinson will be a name to remember for the 2017 class and he made it up to Dawg Night last month and also plans to return for a game this fall. The 5-foot-11, 190 pounder told Clark he also camped at Clemson and Tennessee this summer.
Robinson rates as the No. 9 safety in the country for 2017 per the 247sports composite. His player page also lists him with a UGA offer.
7. Recruits that got away to Ole Miss
Remember that famed 2013 recruiting class at Ole Miss? That one stung the offices at UGA’s Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall just a bit with the likes of Grayson standout Robert Nkemdiche and big OT Laremy Tunsil choosing to play their SEC ball in Oxford. Well, it turns out it was a tremendous haul that year for Ole Miss.
A CBSSports.com report from earlier this week focused on the NFL draft prospects at Ole Miss and that post needed a few paragraphs to get all the names in. Ole Miss has had a total of four NFL draft picks over the last five years but is expected to have at least three first-round selections in the 2016 NFL Draft. There were also two other Rebels who were also projected to go high in next year’s draft.
8. Big game alert, Part I
Coconut Creek (Fla.) will make the long trip from South Florida to the Metro area this weekend to take part in the Georgia vs. Florida “Battle of the Borders” showdown at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston. Coconut Creek faces Marist. It will be led by a trio of elite senior recruits that includes 2016 UGA commitment Malek Young playing all over the field in a Percy Harvin-type role. He’ll play for Jeremy Pruitt in the secondary at UGA.
4-star WR Binjimin Victor is another high-priority UGA target at receiver and CB Trayvon Mullen is regarded as one of the Top 5 recruits in the country at his position. Mullen joined Young and Victor at Dawg Night this summer, but UGA appears to be outside his Top 4 schools at this point of his recruitment.
9. Big game alert, Part II
American Heritage, Fla., will take on Stephenson later that night as part of that Georgia vs. Florida series. The Patriots are fresh off a strong preseason performance against IMG Academy last weekend. Heritage features two seniors that are UGA targets. 4-star DE Brian Burns had an inspiring personal story from the 19-7 victory against IMG by playing on the same day of his grandfather’s funeral.
3-star WR Brandon Johnson also told Scout.com this week that he would take an official to UGA, but that position currently runneth over with high-priority targets at the moment. TE Nick Eubanks is 6 feet, 6 inches tall and is also a major target for several SEC schools.
Stephenson is a perennial power in its own right, but go ahead and list American Heritage as the favorite after what its defensive front and secondary showed against IMG.
10. Huge game alert, Part I
Archer will host Peachtree Ridge on Saturday for an ESPNU telecast that’s sure not to disappoint. The teams will kick off at 7 p.m. in a contest that features several high-priority uncommitted targets on both teams.
Archer’s has 2016 5-star WR Kyle Davis and 4-star OL E.J. Price both rate highly on UGA’s board. So does 2017 DB Jamyest Williams. Peachtree Ridge has Clay and senior safety Nigel Warrior. He’s one of two major remaining targets at DB for the 2016 class.
Peachtree Junior ATH DeAngelo Gibbs might be the best player on the field. He’ll play both ways and get a lot of time at receiver and will be called upon to shadow Davis when it counts. Be sure to pay attention to Peachtree Ridge QB Connor Heyward. He’s the son of former NFL standout Craig “Ironhead” Heyward and a better player than the offers he has received so far. He projects to play at receiver, safety or at linebacker on Saturdays.
It will be a genuine treat to just watch Davis vs. Gibbs all night, but a Rivals.com report from earlier this summer counted up 15 major Saturday prospects that are expected to be on the field for that game. That’s not even mentioning the committed guys at Archer like Donta Evans (Ole Miss), Isaiah Pryor (Ohio State), Kobe Smith (Kentucky) and Dylan Singleton (Duke) among that list. Peachtree Ridge’s Baylen Buchanan and Malik Staples are both committed to Lousiville.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.