First Gridiron Kings players chosen

De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris is set to take part in Champion Gridiron Kings for the second straight year. Miller Safrit/ESPN.com

The first round of players have been chosen for Champion Gridiron Kings, an elite 7-on-7 football event that will field 64 of the nation’s top skill position players. Now in its fourth year, Gridiron Kings will take place from July 28-29 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., as part of the ESPNHS Games presented by GNC.

Headlining the first group of this year’s invitees is the first two-time Gridiron Kings selection in quarterback Shane Morris of De La Salle Collegiate (Warren, Mich.). Last year, Morris led the Midwest to a runner-up finish after upsetting the Southeast in the semifinal round.

Morris, a Michigan commit, is rated the nation’s No. 4 pocket passer and No. 37 overall recruit in the ESPN 150.

So far, nine players have committed to participate in this summer’s event, including three ESPN 150 members who will man the defensive backfield for the West team — Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) teammates Chris Hawkins and Tahaan Goodman and Marcos de Niza (Tempe, Ariz.) standout Priest Willis.

Hawkins has committed to USC, while Goodman and Willis are uncommitted.

Two other elite defensive backs who’ve committed to Gridiron Kings are Will Likely of Glades Central (Belle Glade, Fla.) and Sojourn Shelton of Plantation (Fla.). They’ll team up on the Southeast team.

A trio of elite pass catchers will present a formidable challenge to the defensive backs. Texas commit Jake Oliver of Jesuit (Dallas) and Skyline (Dallas) standout Ra’Shaad Samples will line up for the Southwest, while Autauga Academy (Prattville, Ala.) tight end and Alabama commit O.J. Howard will lead the Southeast.

Players will participate on teams representing their home regions — the Midwest, Southeast, Southwest and West.

The first two years saw the Southeast team dominate and capture a pair of titles before the Southwest squad — consisting mainly of players from Texas — beat the Midwest team last summer to break the Southeast’s stranglehold.