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It is the sort of stuff that makes an observer simply shake his or her head.
When taking in the preparations this weekend for today’s “True 19” Georgia vs. Texas Sophomore Showdown, the logistics just blow the mind.
The game will showcase some of the elite football prospects from the state of Georgia’s loaded Class of 2019 crop against their peers from Texas.
We’re talking about sophomores that look like elite soon-to-be seniors. Most arrived in town on Friday afternoon. They practiced, then met the media, then practiced again on Saturday and then went to UGA for an unofficial visit.
The boys will play today at 2 p.m. ET at Atlanta’s Grady Stadium.
The coaching staff from newly-minted Georgia Class 5A state champion Rome High School has been working for 30 minutes every week this fall on this game. They’ve devised schemes and scouted players and went over practice organization for Team Georgia.
“To me there are already just so many players that catch your eyes on this team,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “The offensive line just blows your mind. I look at those guys and find it hard to believe that those kids are just 15 and 16 years old. Those guys are so solid.”
Former Atlanta Falcons QB Mike Vick will be the head coach for Texas.
“I guess you are kind of up against the 8-ball when you introduce yourself to the other head coach and the first thing you say is you have always been a big fan,” Reid said. “I won’t be able to give them what that guy can, but I will give them the very best I’ve got.”
There are approximately 45 players from both states. When everyone has been ranked and signed away, the state of Georgia’s crop for 2019 should wind up as the best class of the modern recruiting era. There are currently 14 players from Georgia in 247’s Top 100 rankings for 2019.
Texas, the longtime hotbed nationally along with Florida, has only 10 players in those early rankings. The True 19 squad from the Lone State State will have five of those players.
Team Georgia counters with six of those elite talents.
The thinking is those numbers will swell. Considerably. It’s not outlandish to think that when all of these prospects finally sign, the state of Georgia might have almost as many elite Top 100 players as Florida and Texas combined.
Look for this to continue on. The brand representing the nation’s top sophomores already plans a “True 20” game next year in Dallas. The plan is to see a “True 21” game return to Georgia the following year.
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The Class of 2019 holds enormous potential for Georgia. That cycle very well could be the year that Kirby Smart’s program claims the nation’s top-rated recruiting class.
Kenyatta Watson, one of the event’s chief organizers, believes that.
“If UGA does it the right way, this will be the class that takes them to the top,” Watson said. “By the time these guys sign, they will be his fourth recruiting class at Georgia. If it is done the right way, then Georgia will have the No. 1 recruiting class in the country for 2019. Without any doubt. This class will win a national championship at Georgia.”
How many future Bulldogs does Watson see in the class? Maybe five? 10? An outlandish 15?
“Higher than that,” Watson said. “20. I think so. You have 15 guys over here on Team Georgia that are already like Richard LeCounte. That’s as far as carrying the banner for Georgia. Absolutely. They’ve surrounded Owen (Pappoe) and are trying to build a wall around him.”
Pappoe is not currently carrying the banner for Georgia. Yet. He’s trending toward other schools at this time. Clemson, Florida State and Miami seem like they are the teams to watch for him.
At least for now.
“Those guys that already carry the banner for Georgia have been on Owen like white on rice,” Watson said.
— Jashawn Sheffield (@Jashawnsheff) January 15, 2017
Watson stressed the professionalism he’s seen from the Georgia roster over the weekend. He was amazed by how well they picked up today’s game plan.
The other big statements about this game
Watson played at Boston College and has been around high school athletics in the Metro area for several years. He’s known most of the players on the Georgia roster
His son, Kenyatta, is one of the many top prospects in the game. He’s grown to know most of the players on the Georgia roster through that association of attending player development camps and all-star events through the years.
He’s also coached them or coached against them in youth league games.
“It has been a vision of mine for a long time because I’ve believed since they were in the sixth grade that they were the best class in the country,” he said. “It has come to fruition. A lot of these guys have been starters on their respective high school teams since they were in the ninth grade.”
Pappoe became the first freshman prospect last summer to be invited to compete at Nike’s “The Opening” prospect showcase in Oregon.
There are 45 players on the Georgia roster. Watson approximated that 25-30 of those prospects already all have at least one SEC or big-time offer. He feels they all will. Eventually.
The core of this Georgia team has already beaten Florida twice during their sixth and eighth-grade years in all-star game settings.
“My thing about telling everybody that this 2019 class is the best in the country is we have to go out and prove it,” Watson said. “What better state to go after and try to play than Texas?”
Players to watch
A few of the top players from Georgia in the Class of 2019 will be at the event, but will not be playing. Pappoe is rated No. 2 in the nation for 2019, but he will be sitting the game out.
The same goes for Callaway sophomore OL Keiondre Jones. He’s rated No. 21 overall for the Class of 2019. Blessed Trinity LB J.D. Bertrand, who checks in at No. 59 overall, also will not play.
Team Georgia will have the depth to make up for their absences.
True 19 Georgia
(sorted by their 247Sports rank for 2019)
- 6. 4-star WR Jashawn Sheffield (Frederica Academy/ Saint Simons Island, Ga.) — The 6-foot-2, 175-pound prospect is rated as the nation’s No. 1 wideout for 2019. He has offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami and Michigan.
- 10. 4-star WR Jadon Haselwood (Cedar Grove / Ellenwood, Ga.) — The nation’s No. 2 WR for his cycle has big offers from Florida, Georgia, Michigan, LSU and Oklahoma so far. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder also would be a dynamite safety on Saturdays.
- 11. 4-star WR Dominick Blaylock (Walton / Marietta, Ga.) — The 6-foot, 175-pounder is the proverbial hot knife through butter the way he glides through his routes. He’s the No. 3 WR in the nation for 2019 and yet he’s the No. 4 player in Georgia for his class. That’s how loaded Georgia is for 2019. Blaylock has trimmed his offers to five finalists. That’s Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Ohio State and UCLA.
- 25. 4-star OT Warren McClendon (Brunswick / Brunswick, Ga.) — The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder is part of the football-playing McClendon family (Uncle Willie McClendon and cousin Bryan McClendon) that have made an impact at UGA. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 3 OT for 2019. He has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State, South Carolina and Tennessee.
- 34. 4-star DE Nolan Smith (Calvary Day / Savannah, Ga.) — Smith recently announced he is transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for his junior and senior seasons. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder looks like an eventual pass rush terror at OLB. He’s been tapped as a team captain for the Georgia roster.
— Jeff Sentell (@jeffsentell) January 14, 2017
- 78. 4-star ATH KJ Wallace (Lovett / Atlanta, Ga.) — The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder is a likely cornerback at the next level. He holds offers from Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
This class is so stacked that these ratings do not include tremendous talents like Kennesaw Mountain TE Ryland Goede, Marietta WR Ramel Keyton, Hillgrove S Jaylen McCollough, Tucker DE Derrick McClendon, Troup DE King Mwikuta, Buford OG Riley Simonds, Grayson RB Ronald Thompkins, Grayson DT Tru Thompson, Upson-Lee DT Travon Walker and Grayson CB Kenyatta Watson II.
That’s not an honorable mention listing. Those gentlemen already have or will eventually end up with major SEC offers and wind up at the top of commitment boards at their eventual college choices.
Goede, Keyton, McCollough, Mwikuta and Walker all seem like future top 10 players at their positions. At least.
The 6-foot-5 Goede already has been named a captain for the game for the way he carried himself during meetings and on the field during practices.
True 19 Texas
(sorted by their 247Sports rank for 2019)
- 53. 4-star QB Grant Gunnell (St. Pius X / Houston) — The 6-foot-6, 210-pounder picked up an offer from UGA on Saturday. Baylor, Oklahoma State, FSU, Nebraska and Texas A&M also have offered. He’s the best QB in this game and gives Texas a clear edge at that position.
- 57. 4-star ATH Jordan Whittington (Cuero / Cuero, Tex.) — The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder will be a receiver in the game. He’s currently slotted as the nation’s No. 6 ATH for his class. Baylor, Missouri, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas A&M are his major offers so far.
- 89. 4-star OT Andrew Coker (Taylor / Katy, Tex.) — The 6-foot-7, 305-pounder rates as the nation’s No. 10 OT for 2019 and at No. 7 overall in Texas. He doesn’t have any reported offers, but that likely changes.
- 97. 4-star WR Theo Wease (Allen / Allen, Tex.) — Wease checks in as the nation’s No. 14 receiver for this cycle. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has reported offers from Colorado, Georgia, Ole Miss and Texas Tech, among others.
- 99. 4-star OG EJ Ndoma-Ogar (Allen / Allen Tex.) — Ogar is another talent that will represent national power Allen in this game. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder is rated as the nation’s No. 4 OG in his class. His biggest offers to this point are from Tennessee and Wake Forest.