Each week ESPNHS will shine the light on a few non-seniors who are emerging as prospects to watch on the recruiting radar. Here is this week's Launching Pad.
DT Caleb Brantley, Crescent City (Crescent City, Fla.)
Although the 2011 season hasn’t been very good to Crescent City High, currently sitting at 1-6, the same can’t be said for their interior stalwart defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. Brantley, a 6-3, 295 pounder, has been a load for all of Crescent City’s opponents, and has been very productive, despite playing for a team with six losses.
“I am averaging over nine tackles a game," Brantley shared Wednesday. "Most of the teams we play like to run the ball, so I don’t get a chance to pass rush as much as I’d like. But when I do, you can count on me getting in the backfield. Despite our record, our defense rarely gets scored on.”
Brantley holds an early offer from Florida State, but he told ESPNHS that he expects his recruitment to pick up once he gets his film out.
“Everyone is waiting to see how I play. I come off the ball hard, I never give up much ground, and I have a real nose for the ball. I’ve been working to improve my strength in the weight room. If I keep working like I do, I know I can be the best in the state.”
He had impressive showing last spring at both the Orlando Nike Combine, where he made the all-combine team and posted an 84.24 SPARQ Rating on the strength of a 42-foot power ball toss, and also at the Florida State Nike Camp.
QB Johnathon McCrary, Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.)
The Cedar Grove field general is emerging as one of the top quarterback prospects in the Southeast for the Class of 2013. As a sophomore last fall, McCrary threw for 3,345 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 10 rushing scores and leading his team to the third round of the Class AAA playoffs.
McCrary also plays point guard for the Saints hoops team and has been a starter since his freshman year. Duke, Georgetown, Kentucky, and North Carolina have shown interest in his hardwood skills. The multi-sport star comes from an athletic pedigree, as his father Greg McCrary played tight end in the NFL for six seasons.
Last spring, McCrary attended the Georgia Elite 11 and Nike Camp. His sister attends Georgia and the ‘Dawgs are among his top five schools. The 6-3, 180 pounder reports over 40 offers and has an early favorite list that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Oregon. He has already taken unofficial visits to Alabama, Georgia, and Georgia Tech this fall.
McCrary told ESPNHS this week, “All of the schools that standout have good situations and fit me. I took a visit to Georgia Tech because I wanted to check it out, but their offense isn’t for me.”
This fall he has already passed for 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns to go with five rushing scores. His team is 5-3 overall with a 4-1 district mark. Earlier in the season he suffered an eye infection and chose to cut himself to relieve the pressure, so that he wouldn’t miss his team’s game. When asked about his individual success he stated, “To be successful you have to overcome adversity. I’m a big believer in overcoming obstacles and having faith will lead to success.” – Kynon Codrington
OL Mike McGlinchey, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia)
The 6-8, 285 pounder told ESPNHS on Wednesday that things couldn’t be going any more swell over in Philadelphia. William Penn Charter (4-2) is off to their best start in over three years and McGlinchey has been providing his services on both sides of the ball, and making his presence clearly felt.
“Its hard to keep stats as an offensive lineman, but I know I have a ton of pancake blocks, and I don’t give up any sacks. I also have a lot of sacks and forced fumbles on defense.”
McGlinchey’s massive frame and exceptional athleticism make him a very desirable recruit. He holds offers from the likes of Boston College, Virginia, and Penn.
“I feel recruiting is really going to start heating up. I have a few offers right now, but I am hearing from a lot of schools. I’m excited for whats to come.” - Nick Ekbatani
ATH Jalen Ramsey, Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tenn.)
Aside from a blowout loss in the opener to POWERADE FAB 50 No. 5 Trinity (Louisville, Ky.), Brentwood Academy has had an excellent campaign to this point and now stands at 7-1 with two games remaining in the regular season. One key cog in the Eagles big year so far is do-it-all junior athlete Jalen Ramsey, a 5-11, 180 pounder who has lined up at cornerback, strong safety, running back and wide receiver.
Ramsey, who figures to be recruited primarily as a defensive back, has seen more time at running back on offense then he expected this fall, shifting to the backfield when injuries struck at the position and rushing for 348 yards and six scores to this point, while also catching 10 passes including a seventh touchdown. He hasn't been tested much at cornerback but does have 30 tackles and three interceptions.
An explosive athlete who didn't see much time last fall as a sophomore at Ensworth School in Nashville, Ramsey burst upon the recruiting scene with a breakout showing at the Atlanta Nike Combine last March. He clocked an impressive 4.63 40, a 4.19 shuttle and jumped 40.9 inches in the vertical to finish with an eye-opening 104.94 SPARQ Rating, good for fifth-best at the event out of over 1,000 participants. His SPARQ Rating was bested only by Cory Batey and Kofi Amichia, two players who were invited to The Opening, and also UAB commitment Destin Challenger and LB John Silas, another senior who holds Division I scholarship offers.
The showing put Ramsey on the recruiting map, and after a few strong showing at college camps over the summer he picked up offers from Arkansas State, Kentucky and Tennessee. Since the season started this fall, Vanderbilt, Georgia Tech and most recently Purdue have also offered scholarships.
In addition to the schools that have already offered, Ramsey is communicating with Penn State, Michigan State, South Carolina, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Georgia, Cincinnati, and Miami on a regular basis.
"He has visited Tennessee and Arkansas State already this fall and will visit Vanderbilt this weekend," Ramsey's father Lamont told ESPNHS Thursday. He has plans to visit Kentucky, Louisville and Cincinnati.
Know of an underclassman prospect who should be featured in the Launching Pad? E-mail Kynon Codrington (Southeast),Nick Ekbatani (Linemen), Brian Stumpf (national) or Michael White (Midwest/Northeast) with your nominee.