Friday Night Lights: Vanilla Vick

TUSCALOOSA -- Okay, so its not fair to compare Tide quarterback commitment Brandon Avalos to Michael Vick. The two do have some things in common, though. Both wear number seven. Both were offered football scholarships to Virginia Tech. Both are mobile athletic quarterbacks with more than adequate arms to flourish at the NCAA level.

Avalos (6-1, 182) put all those attributes on display Friday in leading his Hillcrest Patriots to a 14-0 homecoming win over visiting Wenonah.

Many have asked what position Avalos would play at the next level. "I get asked this a lot," said Hillcrest head coach Bart Harper. "Brandon can play. Everybody thinks because he played wide receiver and was great (as a sophomore)...Brandon can play quarterback. Brandon can play wide receiver. Brandon can play DB. It's just whatever the college coaches make out of Brandon. He can play any of them. I feel like he can play all three (positions) at the SEC level."

Because Avalos played wide receiver his first year at Hillcrest (quite well, by the way), some still wonder where he will end up on the college level. But reportedly the Bama coaches were impressed with his throwing arm this summer at Alabama's 7-on-7 camp, prompting a quick scholarship offer, which he just as quickly accepted.

Avalos showed his wares both running and throwing on the Pats lone offensive touchdown drive. Several times he scrambled for key yardage, despite some drive-slowing penalties against Hillcrest. Other times he drilled accurate passes, some of which were caught. The drive culminated in a sliding touchdown catch by sophomore tight end Jesse Colburn (6-0, 180) from five yards out.

"I made the fake and glanced up," he said. "I saw him break open, and I saw a linebacker breaking on him," Avalos told Tommy Deas of the Tuscaloosa News. "I didn't have time to set up. I just had to throw it as fast and as hard as I could."

Harper gives Avalos the prerogative to tuck the ball and run anytime he can't find a receiver. That is something Brandon does well, displaying speed, quickness and balance, along with the ability to cut on a dime in the open field. He also knows where the first down sticks are.

To the categories:

How 'Bout Them Burgers: Not exactly in a mood for stadium burgers on our 43rd birthday, FNL decided to sample the fare at the Taylorville Diner. We are happy to report that the fried shrimp and blackberry cobbler were quite good. The Diner is owned by the folks who own the Cypress Inn, and it shows. Good stuff.

NFL Gameday: The uniforms of the two schools made the game look like a New England Patriot/Pittsburgh Steeler matchup.

Seniors Who Shined: OL Brad Coleman (6-4, 240) gives his all to attempt to protect Avalos. Darius Jones does a good job in the Wenonah secondary.

As dangerous running the ball as throwing, Avalos likes what he's seen this year from Alabama's offense.

Juniors To Watch: Michael Banks is an OLB who will hit you, and hard. Ditto for big OL Corey Stokes of the Dragons. Lonzo Jones (6-1, 175) is arguably the top junior for the Pats, and the WR caught a key pass from Avalos on the HHS scoring drive.

Super Sophs: Markus Manson (6-0, 190) is a tailback whose name is already out there in the world of recruitniks. Ironically, he resembles Carnell Williams physically. He's not yet the back Carnell is, but Manson has two years to get there and may well do it. Chris Guyton (6-2, 190) could develop into a top SS or OLB. Travis Rayford is an exciting, athletic QB/DB for WHS.

Name Game: Speaking of which, Wenonah features junior DB/KR...Carnell Williams. And he's a good player.

Crimson Connections: Jake Wingo (6-0, 190) is a sophomore strong safety who came up with a key interception. He will hit as would his dad, former Tide and NFL linebacker Rich. Calvin Culliver, junior is a reserve in the Pats backfield. His dad did rather well in the wishbone at the Capstone back in the '70's.

Here She Comes: Congratulations to Rachel Patrick, 2001 Homecoming Queen at Hillcrest High School.

Tell 'Em, Coach: FNL has been friends with T-News sportswriter Tommy Deas for over a decade, even back when he was a cub reporter on the Nashville high school beat. What we didn't know was that he doubles as a volunteer coach. It was inspirational watching Tommy counsel the Pat's longsnapper during the game. Just kidding, T.D.

Next Week: The Central Falcons, featuring Tide DE commitment Chris Harris, play host to the Golden Gophers of Hueytown. At last word, Harris was injured, and if he is unable to play we may opt for another game. Stay tuned....

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