Commitment Date: 11/13/15
Commitment in the Class: 20th
Accolades: Rated the No.7 wide receiver in Georgia, No.35 in the South and No.81 in the country … first-team all-state by Georgia Sports Writers Association and Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a senior, recording 42 receptions for 872 yards and 12 touchdowns ... also logged six interceptions on defense as a senior ... two-time all-region selection ... two-time All-Middle Georgia pick by Macon Telegraph ... finished career with 54 catches for 1,030 yards and 14 touchdowns ... carried 97 times for 519 rushing yards and 11 TDs ... also completed 16 passes for 251 yards and four TDs ... two-year team captain ... also had Division I scholarship offers in basketball ... first-team all-state by Georgia Sports Writers Association and Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a junior ... set Stratford school record with 53 points in 2015 state playoff game.
Recruiting Story: Catching up on his emails after being on the road for the spring recruiting period, wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore got an email from a high school coach down in Georgia that piqued his interest. Seeing a kid with a lot of athletic ability, Gilmore got more impressed with Cephus as he dug into his background, seeing a talented athlete on the basketball court and a high-ceiling prospect in football.
Cephus played football as a ninth grader, didn’t play football his sophomore year and played quarterback his junior year. While he was a good athlete, according to his coach, quarterback was not Cephus’ natural position. A switch to receiver changed all that.
Even so, Cephus’ heart was set on playing college basketball. Although he received some power five interest at one time (he reportedly had an offer from Clemson), Cephus verbally committed to Furman and was set to sign in early November. The interest from the Badgers caused him to think twice.
“It took off really fast,” Cephus said in mid-October. “They started watching and evaluation my film and Coach Gilmore said as they watched it more and more they liked it. I think it’s a good opportunity for me there (at Wisconsin), and I think Furman is a good opportunity for me. I’m glad I have those opportunities.”
Wanting to get to Wisconsin before the start of the basketball signing period, Cephus took an official visit in late October and called the trip “awesome,” enjoying everything from the fans to his personal interactions with Gilmore and head coach Paul Chryst. He got another amazing college football experience a week later when he took an unofficial to Georgia Tech and saw the Yellow Jackets upset Florida State.
But while playing close to home would make sense, the relationship and faith he had in Gilmore was too strong. Cephus de-committed from Furman and announced his commitment to Wisconsin a short time later. Once that happened, word got out and more coaches started to check on him. Georgia Tech, Miami (led by former Georgia head coach Mark Richt) and Vanderbilt all offered him, while new Georgia head coach Kirby Smart started to recruit him. All the attention was flattering, but his desire to grow at Wisconsin was too strong for him to de-commit for a second time.
Why Wisconsin? “(Gilmore) wanted me to know how much he really wanted me, how he wanted to do this with me and coach me the next four years. He felt we could do some great things together. I feel like Coach Gilmore really believes in me. I feel like I would really gaining knowledge from Coach Gilmore. He’s a great guy and will treat me well.” - Cephus
Scouting Report: Cephus’ intelligence, instinctiveness and coachability are evident, as is his desire to make plays. You can tell that he wants the ball in his hands in critical junctures and, despite his lack of experience at the position. His receiving numbers are impressive considering his school runs a wing-T offense and doesn’t throw the ball a ton. He embraces competition, evident by how hard he competes on the field.
His lack of training at receiver does show up on film, but so does his overall talent, his speed, hands, size and strength. His elusiveness and speed in the open field are attributes, evident by the fact that he’s scored on his only two jet sweep carries of the season. He also plays every snap on defense, a sign that he wants to be on the field and compete.
Coach’s Quote: “There are a lot of things that you can teach someone and there are a lot of things you can’t teach someone; he has those things that are just gifts. I think he’s a very loyal guy. If he’s your friend he’s your friend. He’s been that as long as I’ve known him. Personally I love him. I think he has a tremendous future ahead of him. He’s very smart. He’s a very attentive guy and he’s a good listener. He hears what you say and takes it all in. He just loves the competition. He loves to get out and compete. Those are two great things to have.” – head coach Mark Farriba
BadgerNation Prediction: There’s no question he’s raw but it’s also obvious that Cephus hasn’t come close to reaching his potential. That high ceiling is likely the reason Gilmore responded to the email and became so aggressive in recruiting him while so many other schools passed. The athletic ability and talent jumps off the film. Cephus will need some time to develop, but there’s no question that he runs well, has great hands, is strong and has a desire to make plays. If he can grasp the playbook, he’ll see the field early in his collegiate career.