There was plenty of talent on hand for Hillgrove/Marietta this past Friday, led by Marietta QB Harrison Bailey and Hillgrove DB Jaylen McCollough. I was expecting a close, high scoring game, but the Hillgrove defense stopped a high powered Marietta offense in a 30-7 victory. The Hillgrove Hawks are now 5-3 on the season, while the Marietta Blue Devils fall to 4-5.
One of the top quarterbacks in the state, Marietta freshman Harrison Bailey, is coming off a record breaking passing perfromance a week ago, but had a tough time dealing with the strong Hillgrove pass rush. He made some great throws throughout the game, but there were times when he held onto the ball a little too long. It's still hard to believe that he's only a freshman. He looks the part physically at 6-foot-4 207-pounds, and has an electric arm for someone so young. Bailey was 20 of 36 for 212 yards with an interception.
Marietta receiver Ramel Keyton, the state's leading receiver entering the game, was also impressive. the 6-foot-2 180-pounder showed great athleticism as well as a strong vertical. He made a nice catching leaping in the air, and has the ability to pick up big yards after the catch. Keyton finished the game with 8 catches for 141 yards. Keyton is one of many elite receivers in the state of Georgia in the 2019 class. Senior DE Chris Lewis also looked impressive in the loss.
Hillgrove safety Jaylen McCollough is the real deal. He is one of the top sophomore's in the state, and will be a national prospect sooner than later. The looks the party physically at 6-foot-1 190-pounds and has a true nose for the football. He's great in run support and can really lay a strong hit on the ball carrier. He plays with tons of emotion and energy, and already shows signs of being a strong leader. McCollough has three interceptions on the season. He was also impressive at running back for the Hawks, and rushed for three touchdowns against Marietta Friday night. He's athletic guy with good hands out of the backfield. As a runner he runs hard between the tackles, and picked up tough yards up the middle all night. McCollough visited Georgia this weekend who admitted he had a good time.
"It was a fun visit like always." McCollough said. "UGA is a nice place no matter what. I was able to speak with running backs coach Dell McGee, head coach Kirby Smart, and deffensive coordinator Mel Tucker. We talked about the different schemes they run and what they look for in players. We just have a good time."
FSU was one of his favorite teams growing up, but neither the Bulldogs nor the Nole's have offered as of now. I'm expecting both to offer shortly. Tennessee and Missouri have offered so far, with teams like Georgia, FSU, Notre Dame, Alabama, North Carolina, and Ohio State have all shown interest. McCollough will be visiting Clemson, Notre Dame, Alabama, and Florida State later this season.
Hillgrove WR Chigoziem Okonkwo also looks like a solid recruit. The 6-foot-3 210-pound junior has good size and length, and showed good hands when given the opportunity. He was'nt involved as much as I was hoping, but he did have a nice touchdown on a slant in the second half. Multiple major programs are showing interest, but offers should start coming down the road. "Chig" has 25 catches for 600 yards and 7 touchdowns on the season.
The Hillgrove defensive line was outstanding all night, led by junior Jalani Hayward who recorded 4 sacks. The Hawks ended the night with 8 sacks on freshman Harrison Bailey, thanks to senior Jimarco Witherow, sophomore Zach Stewart, junior Colin Abney, senior Keliechi Kagha, and freshman Miles Murphy. Murphy is a solid looking prospect at 6-foot-4 240-pounds who still has plenty of room to grow. He looked great rushing the passer towards the end of the game, and certainly looks like a major prospect in a couple of years.