Propst Homecoming Spoiled By Hoover

HOOVER – While the long-awaited return of former coach Rush Propst to Hoover was the underlying storyline, this contest between one of Alabama's top teams and one of Georgia's featured a number of college prospects. That's a sure bet to get FNL to a game, and lots of other folks showed up at the Hoover Met, too.

Most readers are well aware of the dominance Hoover has had since the days it was called Berry High. Colquitt County is the alma mater of former Georgia quarterback and Coach Ray Goff, who was chewing cud on SEC sidelines long before Les Miles came along. Final score: Hoover 24, Colquitt County 10. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: That would be Marlon Humphrey, and that would be true if his last name was Smith. Sure, it helps when your dad (Bobby) played at Alabama and in the NFL, and that your mom (Barbara) ran track at UAB. But make no mistake about it: this is one special football player. Even though he's a USA Today All America, Humphrey still covers punts and kick-offs for Hoover, a role he will likely shine in as a true freshman next year. He's being coy about his recruitment, but is considered a heavy Alabama lean. Depending on formation, he plays both corner and nickel.

"Humphrey's the best pure corner and the best defensive back I've ever seen play the game," said Propst. "I can't remember one any better. Just a phenomenal player. He's as good as advertised."

Added current Hoover coach (and former Alabama player) Josh Niblett: "He's a leader. Just a great player, and a good kid. He understands the game. He's got ball skills, and he's a physical cornerback."

Can't say it much better than that, folks. (Niblett said the 6-1, 180-pound Humphrey has added some muscle to his frame, and after viewing him close-up, I concur.) Humphrey isn't thrown at or kicked to much, and finished with four tackles, one pass breakup, and two punt returns for three yards.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Colquitt has a few college prospects of their own according to Propst, who would know. He sent guys like Cory Reamer, John Parker Wilson and Josh Chapman to Tuscaloosa. Those already committed are defensive lineman Jamiyus Pittman (6-2, 285, Ole Miss), athlete C.J. Johnson (6-1, 196, South Alabama), and two Georgia State pledges: offensive lineman Gabe Mobley and receiver Todd Boyd.

(By the way, Propst said Wilson, a recent Steelers cut, tried out Thursday for the Bears, and may get a call from his former employers, the Atlanta Falcons, but that is still to be determined.)

For the Bucs, punter Tuck Borie showed good hang time while averaging 41.6 yards on six kicks.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: For Hoover, linebacker Darrell Williams (6-3, 210) and defensive end Christian Bell (6-4, 225) are both getting lots of SEC early looks. Bell had nine tackles and 2.5 sacks. The same is true for 6-foot-1, 210 pound running back Braderick Shaw, who's already made a fan of Propst, who said, "Shaw has size, and he makes you cover the box with six players, which opens up (Hoover's) passing game." Shaw led all rushers with 61 yards on 14 totes and a 1-yard touchdown run.

His backup, Marcus Webb, had 28 yards. At 5-11, 185, Marcus is not as big as his namesake dad who played for Wimp Sanderson and the Celtics or his sister who is a freshman basketballer at Vandy.

For the Packers, two linebackers with dads who played a level or two up can perform. Quintin Hampton's dad Andre is a former Green Bay Packer, and Tomarcio Reese's pop Billy Ratliff starred at Tennessee.

SUPER SOPHS: At schools of this size and prominence, it's tough for a tenth grader to get much PT. That being said, Colquitt County's Kiel Pollard is a wide receiver to keep your eye on. He will get some big offers. He reminds Propst of a young Chad Jackson, who played at Hoover, Florida and for the Patriots. For the Bucs, corner P.J. Hall (5-11, 177) seems to be Humphrey's apprentice, and is learning the game fast. Write Hall's name down somewhere, right now. Offensive guard Nick Eldridge is already 6-2, 275.

HOW ‘BOUT THAT ‘Q: Shane's Rib Shack, located on Valleydale Road in North Shelby County, serves up some mighty fine BBQ. Most Fridays, a group of middle-aged Bama fans (including this writer) gather there to talk all things Tide, and the staff is as friendly as the food is good. My personal recommendation is the "Big Momma," a smoked chicken salad sandwich that will melt in your mouth.

The Met press box food came from Happy Catering. I thought the dill sauce was white barbeque, but it still tasted okay on the grilled chicken. The roasted potatoes and grill vegetables seemed to enjoy the sauce, too. My favorite part of the meal was the apple pie.

NEXT UP: Though Alabama's off with a bye week, FNL heads to T-town for Northridge at Hillcrest, with a first look at an Alabama legacy. Linebacker Keith Holcombe is a Tide commitment, and his Hillcrest Patriots will face a Northridge squad depleted by transfers. And, with all due respect to those middle-aged guys at Shane's, I hear City Café calling my name, rather loudly.

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