Commitment Feature: Georgia HS teammates

At North Gwinnett High School in Suwannee, GA, Head Coach Bob Sphire has two rising seniors in JaWuan James (6-foot-6, 305 lbs.) and Austin Shepherd (6-foot-4, 310 lbs.) who look to bolster his offensive front in 2009. Sphire and his staff plan to use James on the left side of the line at tackle, while Shepherd will protect at tackle from the right.

"They're great," Coach Sphire said of his two huge offensive linemen. "JaWuan is more athletic and will get out in space, while Austin's more tactical, physical, more of a mauler."

Austin Shepherd gave his commitment to play for the University of Alabama in early March of 2009. Then almost two months later in early May, James decided to join his teammate at the Capstone in the class of 2010.

Coach Sphire says the tandem shares more in common than just football attributes.

"They both possess tremendous leadership, character, and work ethic," he said. "They're also both team players. In that regard, they're a lot alike."

Off the field, James and Shepherd share many similarities as well.

"Well, they both come from great families," said Sphire. "Both are solid students, B- average, and very respectful to teachers and coaches."

Sphire could see Shepherd moving over to guard at the college level.

"He's more of a drive blocker," Spire said. "Austin's someone you want to run behind in short yardage situations. With his size to go with his quick hands and footwork, he could play either guard or tackle at college."

Shepherd picked Alabama over heavy interest from Clemson, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina.

Sphire likes to see JaWuan James in space.

"He excels blocking on the screen pass," he explained. "For a guy his size, he uses his mobility extremely well."

Sphire says initially James' main interest was on the basketball court.


JaWuan James
"He came in from basketball and we used him at tight end, but then we moved him over to tackle, and he's kind of grown in to the position," Sphire added.

Basketball may have helped James prepare for a career as a left tackle in the SEC, as they need to posses both size and quickness.

"JaWuan has good feet for a man his size and is still developing them. What really impresses me is his long reach," he explained. "If he stays low in pass protection and uses that good reach he's tough to beat off the edge."

North Gwinnett returns four offensive starters and five on defense from a team that went 10-3 in 2008 with a 3rd round loss in the playoffs.

Other players on the roster who are being looked at by major college programs are wide receiver Cordero Dixon (6-foot-1, 165 lbs.) who has an offers from Louisiana-Monroe, linebacker Trey Sims (6-foot-3, 205 lbs.) with offers from Toledo, Akron, Southern Miss, and safety Will Compton (5-foot-11, 175) who is garnering a lot of attention.

Looking to the 2011 class, junior quarterback C.J. Uzomah (6-foot-5, 210 lbs.), is a big name next year in recruiting circles. Uzomah has received offers from Alabama, UGA, LSU, Tennessee, and Clemson. That list will certainly continue to grow.

North Gwinnett opens this year with defending Alabama 6A champion, Prattville visiting Suwannee, GA. A future teammate of James and Shepherd, Nick Perry, will play for the Prattville Lions. The game will be played on August 28th.

Byrnes High School from Duncan, SC will play Central Gwinnett in what will be the first game of the double header, followed by the Prattville-North Gwinnett showdown. Byrnes will bring highly touted running back Marcus Lattimore to the showcase event in late August.

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