Upstate Tournament Shows Off Talent

SPARTANBURG, S.C --- Wofford College brought together top talent from the Southeast for the Upstate Passing Tournament. Many of the teams involved were previous or reigning state champions, but only one could take home the title.

The winner, for its third straight passing tournament of the year, was Byrnes (S.C.). Led by two of the top quarterbacks in the Palmetto State, Byrnes "A" team met Byrnes "B" team in the final.

The "A" team advanced to the title match after defeating Shelby (N.C.) Crest 30-0 in the semifinals while the Byrnes "B" team beat Northview (Ga.) 25-2. Though the two teams met, head coach Bobby Bently called the final a "tie."

Quarterback Will Korn is a player to remember for next year. Quite possibly the top player in South Carolina for the class of 2007, Korn has all the tools to become a big-time quarterback. He has a compact throw with great velocity and smart decision-making. He easily puts the ball on the money on deep tosses while taking a little off on short swing routes. Korn also has the best lower body on a quarterback that age since Chris Leak, something easily glossed over but very important to the signal-caller.

While he may be termed second-string, Daniel Barton would start for any other team in South Carolina. With a stronger arm than expected, great spin on the ball, and nice poise under the four second pressure, Barton is certainly a division one quarterback.

Opponents decided to stay away from cornerback Prince Miller, one of the top five players in South Carolina this year. He consistently played loose coverage to bait quarterbacks to throw at his side, and it worked often. He has an amazing recognition on reading the ball and breaking to the point of attack. A stout player, Miller loves to play with a physical aggressiveness, though the rules of the passing tournaments normally do not allow for much contact.

The athletic star of the day goes to Dedrick Epps, a fantastic tight end and linebacker from Huguenot in Virginia. Coming in around 6-foot-4, 227 pounds, Epps plans to stick to the offensive side of the ball. A smart decision because he caught everything thrown his way. Quarterback Omar Kizzie, who throws a nice ball in his own right but could end up as a safety in college, simply connected with Epps all day for touchdown after touchdown.

Parkview (Ga.) has a great winning tradition, and class of 2007 running back Caleb King (right) plans to continue that tradition. With more than his fair share of speed, King ran through and around defenses catching deep ball after deep ball. With a great burst through the secondary and smooth moves he is a top prospect for next year.

A little out of his normal powerful element, linebacker Brandon Spikes, of semifinalist Crest High, still showed that he is very athletic for his great size (6-4, 230). He loved to sit in the passing lane to bump routes off their timing and even made a couple of knockdowns. The biggest surprise of the day was his willingness to sell out his body on several plays by leaping for the ball to force incompletions.

Spikes is close to narrowing his list of schools to five, and has four finalists already including Miami, Florida, LSU, and Oklahoma.

The tournament, in its first year, certainly brought in top talent and is expected to continue to find the best teams to play every summer.

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