Newton football coach Terrance Banks did more dancing inside Sanford Stadium on Friday than legendary coach Vince Dooley did in his 25 years coaching the Bulldogs.
His team would get a stop on D and he’d gyrate. His guys would score another touchdown and he’d bust another move. His team beat Dorman 22-14 to earn the fourth Mark Richt 7-on-7 team camp title of June Friday in Sanford Stadium. Those moves filled up the cell phones of just about everyone who saw his boys play.
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“People keep cranking all this pressure about football,” Banks told the AJC on his way home after the event. “Its a kid’s game. Its supposed to be fun. Part of my job is to make sure its fun. When the kids see me having fun, then they can have fun. We play well when we have fun.”
TOP 10 PERFORMERS FROM FRIDAY’S 7-on-7 IN ATHENS
1. 2017 QB Bailey Hockman, McEachern: Think about this for a second. Hockman woke up this morning, fought a little traffic and committed to UGA inside of Mark Richt’s office to become the first member of the 2017 recruiting class. Then the first athletic thing he does is he goes out and plays a lot of pitch-and-catch inside Sanford Stadium.
Has anyone ever done that? If so, that has got to be a short list of guys who can say that.
McEachern won its first four games of pool play in runaway fashion and then advanced all the way to the semifinals before running out of time against Newton. Hockman was fantastic for most of the day and threw deep often.
“Its like he just spits the ball out of his hand and it goes 40 yards,” one opposing coach said to no one in particular.
When he launched a home run ball into the end zone facing the tunnel to the visitors locker room, Richt underplayed the big-time throw with a “that’s not too bad” comment and a big smile.
2. 2016 WR/DB DeAndre Huff, Newton: This is supposed to be a recruiting list, but there’s no denying the impact Huff had on both sides of the ball for the eventual 7-on-7 champs. Credit Banks and his coaches for the tactical brilliance of saving his legs at corner for the semifinals and finals against McEachern and Dorman, respectively.
The man was doing work besides working on his audition tape for “Dancing with the GHSA Stars” coming to GPB this fall. His legs were fresh enough to tighten up the defensive grid working against the top two quarterbacks of the day.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder was quick and fast and made the tough catches and the ones in which he needed to hit that “B” button to find separation. He averaged at least 1-2 touchdowns per game and has been offered by Minnesota, Rutgers and Miami (OH) leading up to his senior season.
3. 2016 QB Collin Hill, Dorman: Did we mention the day was quarterback-heavy? Dorman was bidding to win its third consecutive Mark Richt 7-on-7 camp in two years and its second in two weeks. The Cavaliers advanced to the finals with an offensive and defensive tandem filled with good-to-very good players.
We’ll echo the same thought we had last week about Hill. The nearly 6-foot-4 passer has committed to play for former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo at Colorado State. That was a great get for Bobo to reach into the Deep South and pluck his quarterback of the future. Neat trick. 247sports rates him as a 3-star passer and the No. 65 pro-style quarterback in the nation for 2016.
Good luck, Coach. The Magic Recruiting 8-ball leads us to believe he’ll have to fight off a few Power 5 sharks to reel that fish from South Carolina all the way to the Mountain West Conference.
Why? He’s big and smart and shows great composure and always seems to put the ball where his guys need to be able to catch-and-run with. He continued to show off a nice balance of Checkdown City and Take-a-shot to his decision-making process in the 7-on-7 format.
4. 2017 DB Jaytlin Askew, McEachern: There are a few more McEachern standouts on this list, but this guy is definitely worthy of the recruiting attention already being pointed his way. Auburn and Nebraska have offered so far. There will be more.
He’s 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds and never seemed to give up anything of consequence on Friday. He’s built low-to-the-ground and has about as broad a set of shoulders as one could picture on a high school cornerback. Good hips and feet, too. He clearly likes to compete, too.
5. 2017 WR Greg White, Riverdale: There’s no offers and stars to his name yet, but that’s okay. He ran a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash at Georgia Tech earlier this summer. That’s a pretty good time for a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder who just turned 16.
He will be a Division I player. There’s no question about that. The way he made catches and got separation on Friday showed it will be just a matter of time before a significant offer comes his way. He had at least 10 touchdowns in Athens on Friday. His sophomore film wasn’t great, but it looks like he’s swallowed the grow-up pill for this season.
His head coach Terry Herrod said in a telephone interview after the event he’s always had the ball skills but now he’s gotten a lot stronger. Keep in mind the summer and fall of a player’s junior year always seems to be the most important developmental stage.
6. 2016 TE Miller Forristall, Carterville: UGA hasn’t offered him yet, but he got a lot of attention from the UGA coaches. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder is rated as a three-star tight end by 247sports. Alabama, California, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri are some of the bigger names on his offer list.
When Cartersville was eliminated, there was more coverage on him than he saw all day. But this was from Georgia’s coaches. Not the linebackers who could not run with him and safeties who could not handle his size on the deeper routes. Mark Richt visited with him first. Then came Schottenheimer and then UGA tight ends coach John Lilly joined in. He looks like a very good fit in a pro-style offense at tight end. He made all the catches and worked well with a big-time quarterback on Friday.
Could he be a half-step faster? Yes, but there was a grocery list of stuff (hands, intangibles, size) he showed off on Friday to appreciate in his game.
7. 2018 QB Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville: MaxPreps.com named him its 2014 National Freshman of the Year with good reason.
He threw for 3,000 plus yards and 26 touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions. He threw three of those in the first varsity game he got significant playing time in the second game of his freshman year. He then led Cartersville to a 12-2 record.
Future 5-star quarterback? Yep. Sure looks like it. He already has a Tennessee offer and that’s his family’s favorite team. Duke and LSU are the other highly-interested parties. New UGA offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer made sure to check out Lawrence in his spring game. It wouldn’t be a shock if the Bulldogs offered very soon.
He led Cartersville to a 4-0 record in pool play before falling to Dorman in the quarterfinals. It wasn’t his best game, but its important to realize he’s a rising sophomore who had all eyes on him playing in Sanford Stadium against a good secondary which reached the finals.
8. 2017 WR Tyler Smith, McEachern: It seemed like the Indians had an assembly line of good-looking receivers who could go, but Smith seemed to make the most plays on Friday. He was the go-to receiver on a few out routes in the deeper rounds when Hockman really needed to get a first down.
The four-star athlete’s 247 sports page lists offers from Auburn, Georgia, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, N.C. State, UNC and Tennessee.
9. 2018 WR Trey Brown, Macon County: Looking for Friday’s next big thing? Brown might be it after a strong freshman season and a superb showing in Athens. Macon County might have played six games and he had at least 12 touchdowns.
He’s already measuring 6-foot-3 on the growth chart and weighing in a few biscuits shy of 170 pounds. When he comes to Athens next June, he might receive premium attention from the coaching staff. He had good strong hands which snatched the ball on several catches and won’t be running any gassers after practice for sloppy routes. He’s well-versed in that area for a rising sophomore.
10. 2017 RB Kurt Taylor, Newton: Taylor’s father played professional basketball overseas and the rising junior looks like an SEC athlete without question. He also has sub 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash. He will test off the charts with a 380-pound bench press, a 580-pound
squat and a 315-pound-power clean. Vanderbilt and Kentucky are his SEC offers. Newton won the Cam Newton 7-on-7 event in Atlanta this summer and will head to the Carolinas to take on some of the top programs in the Southeast. Taylor’s play was one of several reasons why Newton fared so well at that event and in Athens on Friday. He showed off good hands and made some late big plays out of the backfield.
HIDDEN GEM: 2017 OL/DL Chiedozie Iyizoba, Riverdale: This “freak” maybe played one snap last year. Maybe. He’s showing up in a recruiting blog as a true “late bloomer” story. Iyizoba weighed 370 pounds last summer. He could barely get into a stance and came out to his first practice with a pair of church socks on.
His family background hails from Nigeria and he’s hardly played a whistle of football. But he’s decided to put the work in. He committed himself to wrestling. That peeled the weight off. The 6-foot-3 lineman is down to 328 pounds with a wingspan which conjures up the word “condor” because his arms literally extend past his knees. UGA defensive line coach Tracy Rocker told Riverdale’s coaches he needed to be an offensive lineman. He just turned 17.
Is he UGA material? Probably not. That said, he’s going to play football somewhere significant if he improves in the next four months as much as he has so far in 2015.
BEST OF THE REST: 2017 CB Deion Andrews, Riverdale; 2018 LB Ishmael Bridges, McEachern; 2016 RB/WR Owen Clark; MLK; 2016 QB Jordan Douglas, MLK; 2017 WR Jeremiah Holloman, Newton; 2016 DB Tay Gowan, Newton; 2016 LB Cameron Gill, Chapel Hill; 2016 WR Hasaan Higgins, MLK; 2016 RB Jonathan Jefferson, Albany; 2016 QB Romario Johnson, Newton; 2018 QB Bryce Lawrence, Ola; 2016 LB John Mathis, MLK; 2016 RB Jamarcus Morrissette, Chapel Hill; 2016 DE Chidi Okonya, Riverdale; 2016 CB Darius Osbie, Ola; 2017 RB Julius Pearson, Crestwood (S.C); 2017 OLB Xavier Reddick, McEachern; 2016 LB Chris Rembert, Crestwood (S.C); 2017 DB/WR Cortez Roberts, Albany; 2016 WR/DB Kobe’ Ross; MLK; 2018 RB/DB Tyre Shelton, Chapel Hill; 2018 TE Austin Smith, Ola; 2016 WR Tyler Simmons, McEachern; 2017 S Marcus Watkins, Ola; 2016 DE Malik Walker, Macon County; 2016 LB Johnny Willis, Dublin.
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.