Scouting Garner at Wake Forest

WAKE FOREST, N.C. -- Pack Pride scouts the top prospects from Garner's showdown with Wake Forest in the state playoffs.

Local powerhouses Garner and Wake Forest faced off last Friday night for a spot in the 4AA state championship game. Combined, the two schools boast roughly a half dozen division one prospects although unfortunately for the Trojans, the lion's share play for Wake Forest. In the end that was too much for Garner to overcome and the Cougars advanced after a 27-13 win. Pack Pride was on hand and had an opportunity to scout the top players.

Nyheim Hines has been virtually unstoppable this year, running through, over and around virtually every defense he's faced. However, this wasn't the same version of Hines we've seen for most of the year. While he said he was 100% he definitely looked a step slow against Wake Forest. On one long play down the sidelines he was tracked down from behind and that just doesn't happen. He had been hampered by a knee injury for several weeks so you have to give him credit for going out and competing against a very physical Wake Forest defense.

Hines was bottled up for much of the night but still managed 76 yards rushing on 16 carries and had six catches for 62 yards. None of those 138 yards were easy and he literally got them all on his own. The Garner offensive line was woefully undersized compared to the Cougar's D-1 bunch which left Hines to fend for himself on most plays. Even while playing at less than full speed, Hines displayed many of the things that you simply can't coach. He has tremendous balance and it's so difficult to knock him off his feet. Hines was pinballed on a couple of plays and amazingly was able to stay on his feet to pick up extra yards. While the top end speed we're used to seeing was missing, he still showed outstanding vision, especially on one of his punt returns where he stuttered and stopped before exploding forward for a nice gain.

I've seen Bryce Love play on five different occasions and each time I come away thinking he's the fastest football player I've seen in person. With that, it's amazing that Love gets hardly any mention on a national scale and almost seems to be overlooked at times. One thing that has become obvious when scouting him is that if he hits high gear, no one is going to tackle him. You have to get him on the ground before he gets to full speed.

Love doesn't appear to be as versatile as Hines but the fact is, we're not really sure about that because of the way Wake Forest uses him and the offense he plays in. The Cougars rarely throw the ball so that aspect is missing. Love is really a one trick pony for Wake Forest albeit a very fast one. He is going to be a steal for whichever school lands him.

Go ahead and pencil this in right now- Wake Forest DT Dexter Lawrence is going to be the top player in the state next year and he'll be top 25 (if not higher) in the country. You simply don't see players like him from the state of North Carolina very often, if ever. He looks like an Alabama-type defensive tackle right now. If his head is in the right place then the sky is the limit for how good he can be. As it is, he absolutely dominates on the high school level and there's no reason to think he won't do the same in college. At 6-5, 290 pounds he has the size and uncanny quick feet but what separates him is his explosiveness at the line of scrimmage. We counted him with 10 tackles and two sacks against Garner but he probably impacted more than half of the Trojan's offensive snaps one way or the other.

If I'm a team trying to get Dexter Lawrence then I'd get a leg up by offering his ninth grade brother Devon Lawrence. He finished with 10 carries for 74 yards against Garner and 647 yards on the year. Headed forward he will gradually become the focal point of the Wake Forest offense. At 5-10, 170 pounds he has the frame to add size down the road and he'll be a more physical, prototypical back than Bryce Love. He showed a good burst and some physicality against the Trojans and he made it easy to forget that he's a class of 2018 prospect. NC State has already offered one freshman (Zamir White from Scotland County). It wouldn't surprise me if Lawrence becomes the second.

Wake Forest has a defensive front four that would make many college coaches jealous. While Dexter Lawrence is the headliner, Xach Gill is pretty darned good as well. At 6-5, 270 pounds Gill has good size and is quick off the ball. He's athletic given his size and while he usually lines up at end for Wake Forest, he could certainly move inside once he gets to college. It will be interesting to see him develop over the next couple of years as he's just now completing his sophomore season.

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