Scout on the Town - South Review

The recruiting analysts and field reporters were at games in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky over this past weekend.

Chad Simmons, National Recruiting Analyst
Gainesville (Ga.) Gainesville vs Cummings (Ga.) West Forsyth

Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the top 2014 prospects in the state of Georgia and he was on and off Thursday night. He finished with four touchdowns, but he also had four interceptions. He had 304 yards passing and 60 yards rushing, but his team lost 32-30. Watson, a Clemson commitment, showed good arm strength, a quick release, and the ability to get yards on the ground in this game. He was throwing the ball a little late which led to some underthrown passes.

Mohamed Camara played outside linebacker for West Forsyth and he mixed in a little time at running back too. He is a 6-foot-2, 205 pound athlete that could play some strong safety on the next level because of his size and skill-set. The South Carolina commitment did well at playing his assignments and he showed great leadership skills on the football field in this game. He was in on a few plays, but he wasn't around the ball all that much in this one. He played with energy, he likes to play physical, and he will chase the ball down.

West Forsyth's top prospect looks to be 2014 offensive lineman Andrew Marshall. He lined up at center and the 6-foot-3, 260 pound junior was impressive. He really fired off the ball, he got to the second level well, and he looked to finish his blocks. He has good enough feet to slide over and play guard on the next level, but he may stay at home and play center.

Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp vs Hendersonville (Tenn.) Beech
This game featured arguably the top two juniors in the state of Tennessee. Right now, it looks like Beech's Jalen Hurd has the edge on being the top '14 prospect in Tennessee over Josh Malone. He is a 6-foot-3, 205 pound athlete that made big plays at running back in this game. A week after running for 460 yards and scoring five touchdowns, he was held to just 38 yards on 11 carries in the first half of this game. The first play from scrimmage in the third quarter scored from 80 yards, then 60 and finished the night with 233 yards on 20 carries. What stood out most about Hurd is that he runs with power, loves contact, and has good pad level.

Josh Malone is a prospect that looks the part as soon as you see him. He is a legit 6-foot-2 and 190-pounds and has good length. He scored the only touchdown for either team in the first half on a 30 yard reception against a double-team. He was used more as a decoy than he was a primary receiver for much of the game, but he made a few plays, and he blew a couple of opportunities too as he dropped a couple of passes. He has great size, he gets out of his breaks well, and he has a lot of potential. He needs to be a little more consistent catching the ball and continue to mature physically.

John Garcia, Jr., Southeast Recruiting Analyst
Montevallo (Ala.) vs Birmingham (Ala.) Fultondale

From the first few plays of the game, it was clear that the season-opener for both teams would belong to Alabama commit Ardarius Stewart. The four-star talent played quarterback, free safety and handled the return duties for the Wildcats – making a big impact at each position. With the ball in his hands, Stewart accounted for 281 yards of offense including 151 yards on the ground via just six carries. He was 7-of-10 as a passer, throwing for three scores. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete made big hits as a safety, but was truly special in the open field. He has excellent speed, but the most impressive part of his game was his savvy with the ball in his hands. When speed wasn't enough, Stewart elected to use a spin move, stiff arm, back-jukes and pin-point cuts as he stabbed one way to get a defender's hips turned before chopping his feet and taking off the other way. His five scores in just over a half of playing time all came in gaudy fashion.

Alpharetta (Ga.) Milton vs. Alpharetta (Ga.)
Even in a game with a dozen BCS-type prospects participating, it was clear who the most impactful was. Alpharetta quarterback Josh Dobbs, an Arizona State commit, was about as good as it gets in this one. It wasn't just his 234 yards passing and 138 yards rushing, it was how the numbers came to be in the tough 35-28 loss. He accounted for each of the Raiders' scores because of his patience and composure. Even with elite pass-rusher Carl Lawson (four-star defensive end committed to Auburn) breathing down his neck on seemingly every pass attempt, Dobbs kept his eyes down field and used quick moves to avoid Lawson and company more times than not. After his freed up some time for his safety and to allow his wideouts to separate, Dobbs was as accurate as ever. But when he did decide to take off and run, his long stride took over as extended the game with smart decisions to slide and/or get out of bounds.

The aforementioned Lawson was in mid-season form. He only sacked Dobbs twice on the night, but his elite skill was evident as he pressured the QB just about every time he dropped back to pass. Lawson featured a speed-rush, spin-move and a gravity-defying dip-and-rip that all allowed him to stay in the backfield – even against double teams at times. He must work on breaking down when he gets to the signal-caller, but Lawson's motor and combination of strength and speed make him the elite talent he has seemingly become over the past few years.

What kept Miton in the driver's seat for most of Friday's game was its running game. Behind arguably the best offensive line in the Peach State (Cory Helms, Eason Fromayan, Josh Harris and Nick Wilson all have BCS offers), Peyton Barber was special. The Ole Miss commit doesn't have that third-gear to break through on long runs, but it doesn't matter. The senior running back showed that SEC combo of power and moves that has defined most of the conference's elite backs. His 225 yards were consistent from the first quarter to the end of the fourth, when it was his job to seal the win. Barber seems fully recovered from last season's ankle injury. His cuts were quick, his vision was superb and he hit the hole with top-notch burst before capping each run with determination and the ability to fall forward.

Jamie Newberg, National Recruiting Analyst
Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern at Corbin (Ky.) Lynn Camp

Madison Southern is home to one of the top running back prospects in the Class of 2015 in Damien Harris. Harris, 5-foot-11 and 204-pounds, had a super start to the 2012 football campaign, rushing for five touchdowns on scoring runs of 30, 43, 29, 28 and 21-yards. This is a well-built back, especially in the lower body. He already squats 420 pounds and runs with power and the ability to break tackles. Harris also has terrific speed. Harris has very good vision and balance. He runs hard between the tackles and has a great burst and bounce to the outside. It was his first action of the young season as Harris has been sidelined the past two weeks with a slight shoulder separation.

Geoff Vogt, Florida Recruiting Analyst
Plantation (Fla.) vs. Hallandale (Fla.)

Cornerback Sojourn Shelton (Plantation) is one of the top pure cover corners in South Florida, but in this game had to play against the run. He did that, despite his size (5-8/160) and more showing some good physicality.

We thought Monty Nelson (Plantation) was very under-rated headed into the game, and think so after the game. He is a big body (6-1/300) that likes to bang and could be an ideal nose guard at the next level.

The under-classmen were led by Plantation tight end Ravian Pierce (6-3, 210), Hallandale defensive back Jon Jackson (5-11, 175), Hallandale offensive lineman Ronald Nielly (6'4, 275), and Plantation athlete Chris Lammons (5-11, 170).

North Miami (Fla.) vs Naples(Fla.)
Naples running back Manny Morgan went off on Friday night. The 5-foot-7, 190 pound senior ran for 278 yards on 24 carries and also caught a 73-yard TD pass. Morgan is durable, consistent, and ultra-reliable and should see his stock rise over the next couple of months.

Naples junior quarterback Kilton Anderson (6-2, 190), sophomore running Back Max Joseph (5-11, 180) and freshmen wide receiver Tyler Byrd (5-11, 160) are also players to keep an eye on.

North Miami has a pair of 2014 prospects to keep an eye on. Wide receiver Stanley Clerveaux (6-3, 180) had a brilliant game with a pair of great catches. He looks like one of south Florida's best receivers for the next cycle. Running back Charles Romane (5-8, 175) was the other offensive catalyst for North Miami. Ultra quick and explosive, he could be an ideal slot receiver or cornerback at the next level.

Miramar (Fla.) vs Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee
Manatee quarterback and Mississippi State commitment Cord Sandberg (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) was his usual consistent self. The southpaw made several plus throws, made yards with his feet, and was in complete control of the offense all afternoon.

The Manatee defensive line proved it is perhaps the state's best. Seniors Derrick Calloway (6-1, 310), Blake Keller (6-2, 220), and Marquis Dawsey (6-1, 210) team with junior DeMarcus Christmas (6-3, 280) to give the 'Canes a formidable front. Calloway (USF, Arkansas, USC) and Keller (UCF commit) had the best days constantly playing in the Miramar backfield. Calloway can't be moved off of the ball. Keller blocked a punt and scooped it up for a TD. Manatee junior running back Trevon Walters showed that is capable of following in the footsteps of Ben Axon, Mike Blakely, and Leon Allen. He was equally impressive running and receiving. Miramar senior wide receiver Sean Avant provided the lone highlight for the Patriot's with an acrobatic catch in the end-zone for the games first score. He is starting to see interest pick-up and Miramar is developing a rich tradition at wide receiver with Stedmon Bailey, Ivan McCartney, and Malcolm Lewis making plays at the next level. The Patriot's are a young team and have plenty of talent coming up through the program.

Mike Bakas, Florida Recruiting Analyst
Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips vs. Apopka (Fla.)

A transfer from nearby Boone, Alton Meeks (6-3, 215) played really well in this game. He showed a good ability to manage the game. He did a very nice job of spreading the ball around to all of his talented pass-catchers. He is a big, strong kid who can also tuck the ball and run it up inside and get the tough yards on the ground. He completed 13-of-26 passes in this game for almost 200 yards and two touchdowns. The Cincinnati commitment, the 91st-rated quarterback nationally by Scout, is off to a solid start this season and certainly looked like a BCS-caliber quarterback prospect in this game.

Marcel Harris is a talented safety prospect (6-1, 210) and a very good addition to the DP defense this season. He starred at South Lake High last season and is now one of the best players on DP's roster. He has ideal size for a safety prospect, and does a nice job of coming up and making a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage. Because of his size and ability to make plays in the box, it's easy to see why some people believe he'll end up being an outside linebacker at the college level. He is, however, a very good athlete who can change directions, show some explosiveness, and he displays some ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands in the return game.

There wasn't a better player on the field on this night than Dr. Phillips safety Matt Milano. Milano (6-0, 195) plays in the box most of the game and is very active in there. He seems to play with good instincts and he's able to be around the ball a lot. He's an explosive tackler at times and makes a good number of plays behind the line of scrimmage. He even scooped up a fumble and nearly took it back for a score in this game. Milano projects as a strong safety in college, one who can drop down into the box and make a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage. He has committed to Boston College.

Amy Campbell, Florida Field Reporter
Gainesville (Fla.) vs. Yulee (Fla.) Yulee running back Derrick Henry may have had a record-breaking game, but that didn't stop Gainesville from taking the 51-28 victory. Henry moved into third place on the state of Florida's all-time rush yards list, behind only Emmitt Smith and Kelvin Taylor. The five-star running back rushed for over 300 yards in the game and scored three of the four Yulee touchdowns. Henry plans to announce his decision between Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, on September 28th. Florida wide receiver commit

Chris Thompson had a huge night for the Gainesville Hurricanes. Thompson scored four touchdowns on the night: three catches of 47, 16, and 3 yards, and one 20-yard pick six. Running backs Raph Webb and Tony James also put up strong performances. James is a junior with offers from Florida, Miami, Ohio State, and more.

Live Oak (Fla.) Suwannee vs Madison (Fla.) Madison County
Madison County put a 49-7 beat-down on Suwannee Friday night. Florida State offensive guard commit Ira Denson played both sides of the ball and dominated anyone in his path. 6-foot-4, 320-pound Denson looks like a grown man playing with little boys. 2013 cornerback Shedrick Williams looked great on both side of the ball. Williams says Arkansas leads for his skills but he also likes Florida, South Florida, and South Carolina. 2014 running back Deon'Taye Oliver was one of the biggest contributors on the Madison offense. Oliver has no recruiting interest yet, but if he continues to play the way he did Friday, that will change.

Michael Clark, Atlantic Recruiting Analyst
Virginia Beach (Va.) Salem vs. Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside

Salem quarterback Bucky Hodges is very raw, but he has a huge upside. The Virginia Tech commit was 15-26 for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He has a very strong arm and is very athletic. Hodges beats you throwing and running the football. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Hodges already resembles current Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. While he will need to work on his mechanics, Hodges has high football I.Q., is very coachable, and has the potential to be a special player for the Hokies.

Andrew Motuapuaka admitted he did not have his best game. However, the Virginia Tech commit has all the tools to be a very good linebacker at the next level. Motuapuaka reads and reacts well. He also plays with good pad level and does a nice job using his hands to shed blockers. At 6-foot, 220 pounds, he does not have prototypical size, but he runs extremely well. Overall, he is a very good pickup for Virginia Tech.

Kwamane Bowens impresses me more every time I see him. Although he is the top wide receiver in Virginia, I am convinced that he could also be a very good cornerback or safety at the college level. At receiver, he does a nice job getting in and out of his routes. Bowens is very good after the catch and is also a dangerous return man. He has 10 scholarship offers, but has been quiet when it comes to his recruitment. On offense, he finished with four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. He also added an interception on defense.

Bayside's Quin Blanding is one of the top prospects in the 2014 class. Despite losing 37-7, he played hard the entire game. Blanding, who is 6-foot-2, looked noticeably bigger. He is up to 200 pounds, which is about 15 pounds heavier than last season. While he is being recruited to play defense, Blanding also plays at receiver for Bayside. On offense he had eight receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, he made several tackles and had a few pass breakups. The elite junior does it all. Blanding showed good speed, quickness, and ball skills. He is also a leader and smart football player.

Salem's game plan was obviously to make someone other than four-star Bayside running back Taquan Mizzell beat them. Mizzell showed flashes of why he is one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country. But overall, behind a young offensive line, he struggled. Salem's front seven dominated and they shut down the Virginia commit. I expect him to bounce back this week.

Jamez Brickhouse is a prospect that you will hear a lot about over the next few seasons. Brickhouse is only a sophomore, but the 2015 cornerback is going to be a big-time player. He doubled as a receiver, where he had three catches for 34 yards and also broke up a few passes on defense. He has all the tools to be an elite cornerback. He plays much bigger than his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame. Brickhouse showed great feet, instincts, and the ability to play zone and man coverage. I expect him to be the next star from Bayside.

Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson vs. Rockingham (N.C.) Richmond County

As expected, Tyrone Crowder dominated. He currently plays offensive tackle for his high school team, but will make the transition to guard at the next level. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Crowder is very strong and physical. He is also extremely athletic and gets to the second level with ease. He has good feet and plays with tremendous leverage. The four-star prospect will get on the field early in his college career.

Dakwa Nichols saw limited action in Richmond's blow-out win over Anson, but took advantage of his opportunities. The N.C. State commit finished the evening with eight carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He is a shifty back with great speed. Nichols has very good vision and hits the hole hard. He will need to add weight and get stronger. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Nichols flew under-the-recruiting radar, but has all the tools to be a good college football player.

Devante Covington was very impressive. Anson made a point to run away from the defensive end. There is a lot to like about the 6-foot-4, 220-pound South Carolina commit. The Richmond County defensive lineman was extremely physical on Friday and dominated whoever tried to block him. Covington is a long, athletic prospect. He has the frame to add a lot of weight and his best football is ahead of him

Alex Norton is often overshadowed playing beside Tyrone Crowder. However, Norton is a very good offensive lineman. He is a good athlete and showed good technique. Norton has a great motor and plays until the whistle blows. The Richmond County offensive guard is a smart football player who gets the job done. He is up to six offers, with the latest coming from Furman. If nothing changes, someone is going to get a steal on signing day.

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