Grayson met Byrnes on Thursday afternoon in Sanford Stadium to decide the championship of the first day of the 7-on-7 tournament at UGA.
“We too deep” was the rallying cry for both schools, but the Rams ran just a bit deeper in the 7-on-7 bracket on Thursday. That championship game concluded the first of four days of 7-of-7 action on Georgia’s campus this month.
That was the competitive environment that allowed Georgia’s coaches to get a first hand look at the talent on display Friday on the practices fields next to the Butts-Mehre Complex. The event was mostly for in-state schools, but Byrnes had two teams competing at the event along with Rickards High from Florida.
Which individual performers stood out? Read on.
TOP 10 PERFORMERS FROM THE FIRST DAY OF THE 7-on-7s AT UGA
1. WR James Walker, Jonesboro: Is he a basketball guy or a football guy? That’s the big question. What is not up for debate is the sheer raw talent the 6-foot-5 receiver displayed before getting dinged up and sitting out the rest of the day. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is a Class of 2017 prospect, but most fingers pointed his way to answer the question of the prospect with the most overall talent at the event on Thursday.
How much interest was there in Walker on Thursday? Well, there was a heavy contingent of UGA basketball and football coaches who kept a watchful eye on Walker throughout the day.
2. OT Dante Demery, Brunswick: When the UGA coaches lined up the top offensive lineman for a best-on-best drill the 6-foot-6, 315-pounder stood out even among the alpha dogs. He’s another Class of 2017 kid who clearly caught the eye of the coaching staff.
3. WR Charlie Woerner, Rabun County: Woerner — the nephew of UGA great Scott Woerner — is an interesting fit. He looks like a bona-fide future great college tight end, but also might have the goods at receiver after making a collection of big grabs all over the UGA practice fields on Thursday. Woerner recently got clarification from Alabama that his offer was at receiver. That’s his preferred college position. Georgia’s best chance at landing him will hinge on also clarifying that he’s being recruited as a receiver. There was a lot of attention from Georgia’s coaches that was focused on the rising senior all throughout the day.
4. QB Zerrick Cooper, Jonesboro: The Class of 2016 prospect is already committed to Clemson and he’s put a lot of zip on his spirals for a player who needs to gain some weight. He had no problems moving the ball up and down the field for Jonesboro in Athens on Thursday. The 6-foot-5, 200-pounder missed all of his junior season with a knee injury so Thursday was the first good gauge of his recovery from that setback.
5. WR Shawn Smith, Brunswick: Smith has a UGA offer and the sleek 5-foot-10, 165-pounder showed great burst and acceleration getting in and out of breaks. He quickly worked his way open for a squad which went deep into the bracket on Thursday. 247sports rates him as a four-star and the No. 20 athlete in the country for the Class of 2017.
6. QB Chase Brice, Grayson: The Class of 2017 prospect has an offer list that includes Boston College, Colorado State, Kentucky Miami and West Virginia. He shined during most of the action on Friday especially during an early morning drill where he continually led the Rams to scores with Georgia head coach Mark Richt looking on. He threw a couple of interceptions in the championship game against Byrnes, but bounced back from it. It was still a great day for Brice. He can play.
7. QB Jake Fromm, Houston County: The talented pro-style passer holds an offer from Alabama and he clearly has the talent to play in the SEC. Yet Thursday wasn’t his best day. The No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the country for the Class of 2017 is part of a stacked deck of elite passers in the state for the Class of 2017. The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder was a little late on his reads on Thursday and he threw a few key balls a half-second too late that allowed the defense to close down on his throwing windows.
8. WR Jailyn Ingram, Morgan County: Ingram easily passes the eyeball test. He’s 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds and his best offer at this point is from Florida State. He doesn’t have a UGA offer at this time, but he was a part of a talented group of prospects that Morgan County brought to Athens.
9. QB Baron Radcliff, Norcross: He’s got the bloodline. His father was a fourth-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals who spent seven seasons in the minors for that organization. Radcliff looked good on the 7-on-7 stage in Athens. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder already has an SEC offer from Vanderbilt, but he might have just been the breakout player of the camp. Norcross moved the ball well and Radcliff had a lot to do with it. Baseball is also very much in the picture for his future. He will be a high-level draft prospect on the diamond.
10. DB Jordan Griffin, Jonesboro: It wasn’t a great day for defensive backs on Thursday, but the rising senior looked as adept as any trying to blanket receivers on a day that gradually got hotter as the afternoon wore on. The 6-foot, 175-pounder is committed to Kentucky and he made his share of plays.
BEST OF THE REST: Patrick Kearns, 2016 OL, Darlington; Justin Gibbs, 2017 WR, Aquinas; Danijah Gammage, 2017 LB, Brunswick; Caleb Huntley, 2017 RB: Locust Grove; Mykelle McDaniel, 2016 DL, Grayson; Bryce Morias, 2016 DL, Grayson; Aubry Payne, 2016 TE/WR; Locust Grove; Will Taylor, 2017 OL, Grayson; Chandler Tuitt, 2016 OL, Sandy Creek; Quin Williams, 2018 LB/RB/S, Morgan County; MJ Webb, 2017 DL, Morgan County.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta-Journal Constituion. Follow him on Twitter to track the next wave of Dawgs heading to play Between the Hedges.