It is playoff time. There is no finer litmus test for elite prospects. Let’s not forget that amid all the hoopla about stars and rankings and 40 times, it all funnels down to whether or not they can make plays that decide football games against worthy competition.
Can’t make plays with a few scattered college players around you on Friday night? Then how can any recruit stand out on a field where everyone was good enough to play in the SEC?
Here’s how our weekly UGA Honor Roll on Dawgnation shapes up after the first round of the state playoffs. It offers a glance at the top performances delivered by UGA’s commitments and also priority recruiting targets. Needless to say, these guys make the grade.
Who really turned heads? It appears UGA commitment Charlie Woerner has bounced from a nagging hip injury that started bothering him midway through the season. He had a huge game in the first round.
We also spied UGA quarterback commitment Bailey Hockman making an unusual play this week. Scan the names below to find out just what the 4-star pocket passer did.
UGA Honor Roll
Derrick Brown, DL, Lanier, Ga. (undecided)
What: Brown six tackles and two stops for losses in a 27-13 win against East Paulding that improved his Longhorns to 11-0. Yet he also lined up on offense and soared over a defender or two to snatch an 8-yard touchdown catch. The pass route looked like a pinball, but he climbed the ladder to snatch it away from a defensive back. Keep in mind that he’s 6 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs 311 pounds. He’s a 5-star prospect, but no one in their right mind expects to see a future SEC defensive lineman do that in the playoffs. He visited Auburn for the UGA game and he’s set his official visits up with UGA, Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
Peachtree Ridge senior Chad Clay, a UGA commit, has made a lot of plays in the return game this year. ( Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Chad Clay, DB/WR, Suwanee, Ga. (committed to UGA)
What: The senior defensive back had six tackles and a pass break-up on defense in a 51-3 home win against Peachtree Ridge. He also returned a punt 40 yards for a touchdown. Clay is committed to UGA but is expected to take official visits to Mississippi State and Oklahoma. He’ll need to check those off soon as he’s set to enroll early in January.
Davion Curtis, WR, Temple, Tex. (committed to UGA)
What: Curtis caught a 50-yard touchdown pass in Temple High School’s 62-6 thrashing of Willis High in the Texas high school state playoffs. The victory moved his Wildcats to 10-1.
Deejay Dallas, QB/ATH, Brunswick, Ga. (committed to UGA)
What: According to Benjamin Wolk of The Brunswick News, the junior ran for 167 and touchdown runs of 16, 40 and 51 yards in a 28-22 Class AAAAA playoff win against Jones County. He came in late on defense after a fumble on a kneel-down trying to run the clock out in the final minutes. Dallas intercepted a last-ditch Jones County pass in the end zone to seal the win.
Randrecous Davis, WR, Atlanta, Ga. (committed to UGA)
What: The senior caught an 18-yard touchdown that opened the scoring in a 31-0 win against Creekview in the AAAAA state playoffs. He also added a clutch 19-yard catch on fourth down in the victory.
Lake Stevens quarterback Jacob Eason rolls out of the pocket during Friday’s win. Eason is not known as a runner, but he did score a rushing touchdown in the victory. (Jeff Faddis/ Special)
Jacob Eason, QB, Lake Stevens, Wash. (committed to UGA)
What: The 5-star recruit unleashed even more offensive fury Friday night in a 42-32 win against Issaquah High School. Eason, who got a surprise breakfast visit from Mark Richt on Sunday, completed 24 of his 37 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and scored the final touchdown for his Vikings with his legs. He’s now thrown for 36 touchdowns against just five interceptions this year.
Mecole Hardman, Jr., QB, Elberton, Ga. (undecided)
What: Hardman went bonkers again. The nation’s No. 1 athlete ran 35 times from his quarterback spot for 301 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-7 win at Central-Carrollton. While normally this would be a cause for alarm, it simply isn’t to anyone who has seen him play. The senior did it on a field in far-from-ideal conditions, but that’s just the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from the 5-star recruit. UGA and Tennessee are seen as major contenders even though he will not use an official visit for either school. Alabama, Ole Miss, Oregon and TCU seem like the best bets to snag his four remaining official visits.
Bailey Hockman, QB, Powder Springs, Ga. (committed to UGA)
What: Hockman accounted for three total touchdowns in a 34-11 home victory against Lowndes in the AAAAAA state playoffs. The 6-foot-3 junior threw for a score to stalwart senior halfback Sam Jackson, tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Smith in the third, and also snagged a touchdown pass from Smith on a trick play. McEachern (10-1) will meet a talented Archer team in the second round.
Jaden Hunter, DE/LB, Atlanta, Ga. (undecided)
What: Hunter, the son of the late former UGA receiver Brice Hunter, had a sack and four tackles in Westlake’s 76-20 win against Lakeside-Atlanta in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA state playoffs. The junior also added three additional quarterback pressures and now has seven sacks on the season. He’s got a long list of offers, but UGA, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and LSU seem to be the teams to beat at this point.
Richard LeCounte III, QB, Hinesville, Ga. (undecided)
Liberty County’s Richard LeCounte III is the nation’s No. 2 athlete for 2017. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
What: The impressive junior all-around athlete contributed to Liberty County’s 31-22 win against Upson-Lee in a variety of ways. The 4-star is expected to be a defensive back at the next level, but he saw a lot of action as a “Wildcat” quarterback in the GHSA Class AAAA first round. According to the Coastal Courier, he ran 18 times for 149 yards and three scores, including a 60-yard jaunt. He also completed 6 of his 13 passes for 90 yards and another touchdown. UGA and Auburn are seen as the favorites for his commitment, but Auburn and Clemson are also likely still in his top group.
Charlie Woerner, WR, Tiger, Ga. (committed to UGA)
What: The senior went off in a 49-14 thrashing of Bremen in the GHSA AA state playoffs. He caught eight passes for a whopping 186 yards and two touchdowns. His scoring plays covered 33 and 54 yards, respectively. He also added four tackles on defense.
Devwah Whaley, RB, Beaumont, Texas (undecided)