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Stephenson loaded with prospects

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- Tuesday was a big day at Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson High School. The Jaguars were having their spring scrimmage. ESPNU 150 Watch List linebacker Raphael Kirby was making his college commitment. Fans, Jaguars alumni and a bunch of college coaches were in attendance. It was a spring showcase for one of the most talented high school football teams in the country.

"Both teams that we had set up played very hard," Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. "The effort was there and I was very pleased with that. The guys executed and played pretty well. The new guys seem to fit in and play well. Best of all, it was a clean scrimmage."

The Jaguars are loaded with prospects. Running back Mike Davis has already committed to Florida. Defensive lineman Carlos Hood is headed to South Carolina, and tight end Joshua Parris just pledged to USF. Florida commit Jafar Mann, a defensive tackle, did not play. After the scrimmage, Kirby pledged to Miami in front of his friends and family members. Then there are about a dozen more D-I prospects on Stephenson who have yet to make a decision, including defensive end Jarontay Jones, who was one of the scrimmage's standouts.

"That was a lot of fun," said Jones, who has more than two dozen scholarship offers. "We had a good offseason and worked hard this spring. To come out here and play well was great. I think I had four sacks and I was happy with how I played."

Another surprise standout was two-way player Shawn Blaylock. He's a 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback/receiver prospect with scholarship offers from Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee State. Yet on a field with a lot of high school stars and future college football players, he stood out by hauling in a TD pass and also making an interception and breaking up a pass.

"Shawn was terrific," Gartrell said. "He's had a great offseason for us. I have wanted to see him turn it loose. I wanted to see some other stars star out there. He and Jarontay really had a strong scrimmage for us."

Coaches from Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Southern Miss, USF, Samford and VMI were just some from the college ranks in attendance.

Croom gaining confidence
Norcross (Ga.) High School's Jason Croom, 6-5 and 220 pounds, is one of the Peach State's top wide receivers and his confidence is at an all-time high.

"That really started last season when we played Brookwood," Norcross coach Keith Maloof said. "In that game he caught five passes for 185 yards and scored two touchdowns. Jason has really blossomed since and he had a great spring for us. It also helps that he won a state title in basketball.

"This kid gets open. Jason can get deep, has a presence across the middle, can run those possession routes and is so strong. He also has terrific hands."

According to Maloof, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Arkansas, LSU, Tennessee and UConn have all offered, with more expected to follow before long.

Other 2012 prospects who could emerge are wide receiver/defensive back Anthony Autrey, wide receiver Tyler Williams, wide receiver J.T. Tolbert, defensive tackle Kris Beauchamp, running back Martavious Edwards, defensive end Dominique Mason and linebacker Tanner Maloof.

Norcross' 2013 class is just as loaded, led by running back Alvin Kamara, who is 5-10, 190 pounds and has the potential to be one of the top backs in the Peach State next season. Cornerbacks Bryson Jordan and Shon Atkins and quarterback Joseph Wilbur are a trio to watch, as well.

Two hot at Tucker
Linebacker Jacob Sealand and defensive end Josh Dawson are two Tucker HS prospects who are gaining some recruiting momentum. Sealand just committed to Vanderbilt.

"Vandy was a school that came in early and established a great relationship with him," Tucker coach Franklin Stephens said. "Plus, he's a big academic kid and that was a draw for him. He's also very enthusiastic about their program and he likes the staff.

"Vandy is getting a football player. Jacob is the QB of our defense. Jacob is very smart and has a great football IQ. Because of that he plays incredibly fast and he has great instincts.

According to Stephens, Sealand has been offered scholarships from Vanderbilt, Miami, North Carolina, Purdue, Illinois, Cincinnati, Louisville, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Boston College, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Wake Forest.

Dawson's offer list is even bigger with Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisville, Cincinnati, NC State, USF, UCF, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Illinois, among others, offering.

"Josh is physically very long," Stephens said. "He's so athletic. He does a good job with his hands and he can run. Josh plays with a very high motor and is relentless out there. He's a high energy guy that plays very hard."

Tucker also has a 2013 standout in athlete Jawaan Williams, who has verbal offers from UCF and NC State. Williams, 6-1 and 180 pounds, played wide receiver last season and will quarterback the Tigers this fall.

"He's one smooth operator," Stephens said. "Jawaan is a game-changer that runs very, very well."

What's going on at St. Pius X?
Atlanta (Ga.) St. Pius X went through early spring in January, but coach Paul Standard's prospects had a good offseason. South Carolina-bound linebacker T. J. Holloman made it a point to become a better leader this offseason and even went to a class regarding leadership.

"T.J. has had a great offseason," Standard said. "He went to the Ideas Leadership School in Norcross [Ga.] on his own. He gave up six Sundays and came out with a lot. There were over 400 kids there and another from our school. In the end, he got to give a speech. T.J. has emerged as a leader here. I mean, he has really stepped up."

Quarterback Trey White, 6-foot and 195 pounds, is making a name for himself with Air Force and Navy.

"He's a three-year starter and those schools love him," Standard said. "He's very gifted in what we do offensively and he would be a great fit at those schools. Trey is an academy kind of guy."

Of course, everyone wants to know the latest on ESPNU 150 Watch List cornerback Geno Smith, who has offers from coast to coast.

"He's at that point where he's getting a little overwhelmed," Standard said. "Geno has visited Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and Georgia Tech multiple times. He has also been to Florida State and Tennessee. I think he wants to narrow things down a little more very soon. He wants to visit Notre Dame this summer or at least before he makes a decision. I think he would also like to check out Clemson and USC, but I don't know if he will or not."

Two additional players to watch for at St. Pius X are 2012 linebacker Joe Crochet and 2014 athlete Nick Ruffin.

Greene getting busy

It's going to be a busy fall for 6-6, 300-pound Alabama OT commit Brandon Greene, who will play both offensive and defensive line this fall at Cedar Grove High School.

"I thought he had a very good offseason and a great spring for us," Cedar Grove coach Ray Bonner said. "He has been great in the weight room and now loves it. He's a better run blocker now. He's always excelled at pass protection. The big surprise was that we found out he's a heck of a defensive player. He will play defensive tackle for us this season and go both ways."

Cedar Grove is also home to Class of 2013 QB Jonathan McCrary, a 6-3, 175-pounder who threw for over 3,400 yards and 24 touchdowns and also rushed for over 700 yards.

"He's getting more and more comfortable and now he doesn't have to worry about making a big play every time we throw the ball," Bonner said. "We have to running backs to complement him. Teams like South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State and Purdue are all showing interest."

Perhaps the most exciting player at Cedar Grove is rising sophomore Deion Sellers. At 5-8 and 160 pounds, he makes something happen every time he touches the ball.

"This kid is something else," Bonner said. "He's so exciting and does some things with the football you can't teach. He can really make you miss and boy can he run."

Sellers is also an outstanding baseball player.

"He has first-round potential," Bonner said. "He plays second base and shortstop and hit over .500 as a freshman. One week he played a baseball game. The following day he came out and ran the 200 in a track meet without ever practicing it. He ran 22.3. Then he went straight to baseball practice. Deion's that kind of athlete. I know Florida State loves him."

If you want to go a little deeper, Bonner is also sky high on an incoming freshman defensive tackle Quintez Johnson.

"This kid is 6-4 and 300 pounds already," Bonner said. "You should see him play. He's going to be something."

Sleeper lineman at Woodward Academy
Woodward Academy's Jordan Watkins, an ESPNU 150 Watch List member, is one of the top defensive line prospects in the country. He's a small mountain at 6-5 and 270 pounds and is approaching 40 offers.

Woodward Academy coaches expect Watkins to narrow down his school list soon. They also said he plans on visiting Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida, Miami, Notre Dame, Stanford and LSU this summer.

But Woodward Academy has another big fella getting a lot of attention in Josh Minor, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive lineman.

"Josh is the best athlete on our team," Woodward Academy's departing coach Mark Miller said. "He plays first base for our baseball team and he can throw a football over 60 yards. He's the son of a line coach and is just so football smart. You tell him something one time and he gets it. Plus, he's tough as nails."

Minor doesn't have any scholarship offers yet, as teams want to get him in summer camp, but Georgia Tech, Duke, Tennessee, Illinois and Mississippi State are all showing interest. He carries a 3.8 GPA.

Woodward Academy also has a talented Class of 2013 quarterback Trey Googer, who's 6-4 and 200 pounds. New coach John Hunt, a former offensive line coach at Florida and South Carolina, will open up the Woodward offense and Googer will get a chance to showcase his skills over the next two seasons.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.