Friday Night Lights checks out Alabama prospect in Georgia

Alabama has checked out punter and kicker in Georgia

NORCROSS, Ga. – A region title was on the line when Brookwood of Snellville, Ga. (not the one in Tuscaloosa County) visited the mighty and unbeaten Blue Devils of Norcross. While the Broncos had probably the best prospect, the collection of talent and grit on the Norcross sideline would not be denied. Final: Norcross, 21, Brookwood 0. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: He has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, and Ohio State, along with many others, and after watching 6-foot-2, 185-pound receiver/running back Matthew Hill play, one can see why. His stats weren’t overly gaudy, as he ran for 45 yards on 10 totes and caught four passes for another 38 yards, but when you see Hill break tackles, fight for extra yards, and put a corner on the ground while run-blocking, you understand why the scouts like him.

“Matthew is an athlete,” said Brookwood Coach Phillip Jones. “He brings a lot of speed, but he’s also extremely hard to tackle. He does a little bit of everything for us. He’s got a lot of strength, and he brings a lot of passion and energy in everything he does, and he’s a leader.”

Hill is also an accomplished kick returner, but he got no chances on this night. More on that later. The thought on his position in college is wide receiver.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Norcross has three seniors committed. Corner Dameon Williams (5-11, 170) is Georgia Tech bound, and he did a creditable job on Hill. Two Blue Devils will head downtown to play for Georgia State: linebacker Jordan Ferguson (6-2, 245), and receiver Tamir Jones (6-1,184), who showed both speed and hands. Then there’s receiver Jared Simpkins, listed at 5-10, 160, who returned a punt 50 yards for a score and caught a 43-yard pass to set up another.

For the Broncos, linebacker Leonard Warner is 6-4, 225 and makes plays. He is soon to choose between Georgia, Florida State, Duke, Stanford, Ohio State and Michigan.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Brookwood running back Dante Black (5-11, 205) is expected to garner some high D-1 offers, and likely would have them already had he not missed a month with an injury, but he ran for 300 yards in the Broncos’ previous two games. He didn’t achieve that on this night, but showed flashes. He gets good blocks from tackle Casey Holman (6-4, 287).  Receiver Jamison Collier (6-3, 190) will need a bit of work on concentration, but Tulane has offered.

For Norcross, running back Clay Harris (6-0, 195) is getting looks, as are receivers Isaiah McCoy (6-3, 185) and Ricky Holloman (5-9, 175). Corner Malik Mays (5-10, 175) is also talented, as is defensive lineman Nazir Sy (6-3, 290).

Regarding Hill not getting any kick return action, it’s because kickoff man and punter Jake Camarda (6-2, 175) wasn’t having it. He boots a LOT of touchbacks. Bama has inquired about him.

SUPER SOPHS: Norcross doesn’t play many 10th-graders, but Brookwood has a safety who got a pick and he’s getting attention. Remember the name Daniel Walker. He’s 6-1, 170 and still growing. He can play.

CRIMSON CONNECTIONS: Everyone at Norcross knows my friend Harvey Snider. He’s a Bama grad, former National Alumni Association Regional VP, and he backs the Blue Devils. His son Sam played there and at Bama as a walk-on receiver. Assistant coach Heath Herron is a UA grad, and let’s not forget Norcross sent both receiver Darius Hanks and linebacker Adrian Hubbard to The Capstone.  And, until very recently, Avery Johnson and his staff were heavily involved with Blue Devils basketball star Rayshaun Hammonds, but he will not likely be in the Tide’s fall class.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM RESTAURANT BURGERS: Many restaurants have in the past few years discovered that we Americans love our burgers even more when they are served with a fried egg on top of the beef patty. One such establishment is the Arena Tavern, located just off Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth, Ga. The meat is a nice cut, and the egg gives you tidings of Waffle House. This is a good thing! I highly recommend it. It helps that dozens of flat screen TVs make Arena Tavern a good place to watch sports, too, and the service is excellent, just like the sweet tea.

HOW ‘BOUT THEM STADIUM BURGERS: Well, the Norcross burger was okay. Not bad. Not great. Just okay. It was well done, and if you read this space much you know I like mine medium, but them’s the breaks. It was odd to see peppers, and not pickles, in the condiment area. I covered my sandwich with enough catchup and mayo to drown out most of the well doneness.

ELSEWHERE IN HIGH SCHOOL BALL: Alabama Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt visited his old stomping grounds Friday night to see Hoover lose to Grayson, Ga, 36-14. Remember safety DeAngelo Gibbs from this space back in August when Grayson fell to IMG? Well, at that time it looked like Gibbs was a UGA lock. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.” That’s who Pruitt was at The Met to see, primarily, He probably also checked out Bo Jackson’s nephew Shedrick Jackson, a junior wide receiver for the Bucs. But the Tide has recently refocused its safety recruiting, and Gibbs has re-entered that picture. Let’s see if he ends up in Bama’s 2017 class. It’s possible.

(I hope my church friends Tony Cole and Mark Simmons enjoyed watching the crafting of an Friday Night Lights column.)

NEXT UP: A couple of off weeks loom, but FNL will not ignore the playoffs. I’ll be assisting in Bama hoops coverage on Nov. 11, but the plan is to crank FNL back up on Nov. 18 with a playoff game in the Atlanta area. FNL also plans to join John Garcia for at least one game at the AHSAA Super 7 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in early December. I will keep you posted on the Insiders Board as that situation solidifies.

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