AJC’s awards from Elite Junior Classic all-star football game

Big things come in little packages with Lorenzo Smothers.

The 5-foot-6, 162-pounder from Marion County High School had maybe the best catch I’ve ever seen in 20 years of covering Georgia high school football … in Tuesday’s Elite Junior Classic all-star football game. It featured some of the state’s top prospects for 2016.

WR/DB Lorenzo Smothers (Score Atlanta)

WR/DB Lorenzo Smothers (Score Atlanta)

You can see the play HERE. But I wish there was a “field view” angle so you could fully appreciate how much the ball was overthrown, yet Smothers rocketed into the air to make a circus catch that would make Odell Beckham proud.

Smothers was my MVP from the Elite Junior Classic, and it will be interesting to follow his recruiting over the next year. If he were a few inches taller, he’d probably have 20 offers by now because Tuesday’s game (5 catches for 113 yards, played cornerback, and returned punts) were the same type of spectacular things he did all season for the Class A powerhouse. It was business as usual.

Some college, in the end, will take a chance on Smothers. He’s just electric with the ball in his hands. He’s quick, he’s fast and he’s elusive. Bottom line: He just makes plays.

Here’s my other MVP awards from the Elite Junior Classic (please note that the other junior all-star game, RisingSeniors.com, will be played at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Grady Stadium). These unofficial awards were based as much on practices as the game:

Best offensive lineman: Brodarius Hamm, 6-5, 307, Spalding High School: 2016 is yet another thin year for offensive linemen in Georgia. But even in a good year, Hamm would be top 10. He’s got prototypical size, good foot-fire, and quick feet. He just needs to continue to work on technique. Hamm has early offers from UGA and Auburn.

DE Allen Cater

DE Allen Cater

Best defensive end: Allen Cater, 6-4, 227, Mt. Paran Christian high school: Cater helped his team win the Class A state championship as a junior. He is barely being recruited, but that’s about to change rapidly. Great size and length. He’s got a really good first step. One scout told me that Cater had “the most potential out of anybody in the all-star game.” Can’t say enough about his first step. He just needs to learn how to use his hands better and be a little more physical with his hands.

Best interior defensive lineman: David Marshall, 6-3, 255, Upson Lee High School: Already has a few early offers, including Georgia Tech. He has good size, good strength and good feet. He plays well with his hands. He’s good interior guy that can hold the point of attack and rush the passer.

Best linebacker: Tabarius Patterson, 6-2, 208, Tucker High School: Tucker is one of the state’s biggest producers of college football talent, and you can go ahead and add Patterson to the long list of D1 signees. He’s long, lean and athletic. He’s physical at the point of attack. He’s going to be able to match up well with running backs and tight ends in the passing game. He’s SEC material.

Best running back: Sam Jackson, 5-8, 168, McEachern high school: Jackson came out of nowhere to be one of the biggest surprises in Tuesday’s games. He looked like he was shot of a cannon while scoring a 51-yard touchdown on the end of a hook-and-ladder play. When Jackson gets to the edge, he’s got great speed. He’s not so much a between-the-tackles runner, but he has got great speed and elusiveness. If you can get him in space, he can make people miss. His size is going to be a concern for some scouts; he’ll just need to find an offense that fits his skill set.

QB Conor Davis

QB Conor Davis (Score Atlanta)

Best quarterback: Conor Davis, 6-3, 221, Blessed Trinity high school: He was a late invitee, and he ended up being the best QB in the game – maybe even the game’s biggest surprise. Davis completed 20 of 26 passes for 357 yards and four touchdowns. How’s that for accuracy? Those are Nintendo-like stats. Davis is a big kid with a good, strong arm. He needs to develop his mechanics to become a more accurate passer. But he has got a good strong arm that can drive the ball down the field.

Best defensive back: Devon Henderson, 5-10, 158, Marietta High School: He has really good speed. He can play safety. He’s physical enough to play there. He can also play corner, so his versatility makes him valuable.

Best wide receiver: KJ Hancock, 6-1, 188, North Gwinnett High School: Whomever is coaching wide receivers at North Gwinnett needs a pay raise because the receivers they’ve turned out over the past three seasons are ridiculous. After catching only 11 passes this season at North Gwinnett, Hancock exploded for 9 catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns in Tuesday’s all-star game. How is that for a breakout performance? Hancock has good size, runs good routes, and catches the ball well.

Hancock was named as the Elite Junior Classic’s Offensive MVP and he talks about his recruiting in the below video …



Correction: We had Smothers listed at 5-8 but he was 5-6 at the game’s official measurements. All measurements of players in this article are official.


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