- Jamie Newberg, RecruitingNation
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FAIRBURN, Ga. -- For Creekside (Ga.) High School, it could be a secondary to remember. Coach Johnny White has an incredibly talented defensive backfield, loaded with both young and experienced elite talent.
"It's unbelievable," White said. "To be able to coach this group is something else, and once we all get on the field together we have a chance to be pretty special. They are so talented and so athletic. The talent is scary."
Manning the cornerback positions will be Virginia Tech bound Davion Tookes and uncommitted Joshua Holsey, who's a member of the ESPNU Watch List. Both are blessed with blazing speed and super ball skills.
"You get pushed every day," Tookes said. "We are all competing. The older guys are helping the younger guys. We are teaching, and the more you see these young guys play you say, 'Wow'. We can be really good."
Holsey has become one of the hottest defensive prospects in the Peach State over the past several weeks. He has two dozen offers, including Georgia, Virginia Tech, LSU, Auburn and Georgia Tech.
"It's been a great few weeks," Holsey said. "Right now my three top schools are Auburn, LSU and Virginia Tech. I just try and do my job the best I can and make plays back there."
Former Creekside and Tennessee star Eric Berry, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, has younger twin brothers -- Evan and Elliot -- who star for his former high school. Evan started at quarterback and safety last season as a freshman, while Elliot finished up playing defensive end and will be the starter there this season. Evan is already one of the most electrifying athletes in the state, especially with the ball in his hands. Last season as a freshman he accounted for over 2,600 yards of offense and 33 touchdowns.
"They are unbelievable," White said. "They have a chance to be like Eric, but in their own way. Evan is smaller, about 5-11 and 185 pounds, while Elliot is 6 feet and 195 right now. I can see him leaving here at 225-230 pounds. [Elliot] runs a 21.9 200 meters, and Evan is a 10.8 100-meter guy. Remember, they are still freshman with a lot of football left."
As if that's not enough, Creekside is expecting incoming freshman Deontre Turman to start at the other safety spot. Already 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, he has a giant reputation, even though he hasn't played one down of high school football. Talk with White, Creekside assistant coach Bernard Williams, Tookes, Holsey or one of the Berry brothers, they all say the same thing: Turman's ability is off the charts.
"The kid is special," White said. "I mean, he has skill you only see in guys like Eric Berry. He can be another Eric Berry. He's freaky and he will start for us at safety and play receiver. He's fast and he will hit you. He's incredibly athletic. The kid is only 13 years old but we expect big things from him."
There's no question that this is a big-play secondary. Tookes, a converted track guy, played his first full season at cornerback last year. Despite playing with a cast on his broken hand, he had three interceptions and returned them all for TDs. The best part? They were returns of 93, 98 and 108 yards. Holsey has 19 career picks, including 10 last year. Not to mention, the trio the Berry twins and Holsey combined for three of the four members of the school's 4x100 relay team that won the state title last year.
"Everyone is coming by to see these guys," White said. "We had 16 schools come by in one day. Five came here today before 10 [a.m.]. It's crazy. But these guys are all that good."
More talent at Sandy Creek
Sandy Creek (Ga.) has had its share of prospects over the years, and this season is no different. Headlining its 2012 class is defensive lineman Quinteze Williams, wide receiver Jaquay Williams, offensive tackle Will Adams and running back/defensive back Michael Hilton. All have BCS offers.
Quinteze Williams, 6-5 and 255 pounds, left Atlanta's Westlake High last fall, and this will be his first complete season with Sandy Creek.
"Oh man I can't wait until the season starts," Quinteze said. "I love it here. The teachers are great and the coaches are great. The transition was easy for me."
Quinteze has committed to Florida but that hasn't stopped a few teams from still pursuing the defensive lineman.
"Coach [Travaris] Robinson was a big impact on me and my decision," Williams said. "Actually, their staff was. They have a collected 50 years of NFL experience, or something like that, so they know the route it takes to get to the league. As of now I am solid to Florida, but teams like Auburn and Tennessee are two teams that haven't stopped recruiting me."
Jaquay Williams has had a great spring, according to Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker. Williams, 6-4 and 208 pounds, is a transfer from Heard County and will also be playing his first season with Sandy Creek.
"I played in an option offense at Heard, so playing here will give me a great opportunity to show my skills," Jaquay said. "It's been great so far, and I think I fit in real well here. I have good size, speed, hands and body control."
Jaquay has had a busy few weeks and is up to 17 scholarship offers.
"Clemson actually offered me as a sophomore," Jaquay said. "LSU was the latest offer. Teams like Miami, Auburn, Ohio State, Tennessee and Alabama have all offered me. Right now, I don't have any favorites."
Jaquay has visited Auburn, Georgia, Florida, Georgia Tech and Ohio State, but he still hopes to check out USC.
The Sandy Creek coaching staff will tell you its best football player is Hilton. He just 5-9 and 180 pounds but he does anything the coaches ask and does it well. As a sophomore he played linebacker and led the team in tackles. Last season he played safety and had nine interceptions.
"I do what the coaches ask," Hilton said. "I just want to win. Most schools are recruiting me to play running back or cornerback. I prefer to play running back. Right now Kentucky, Cincinnati, Southern Miss, Western Kentucky, Buffalo and Marshall have offered me. Kentucky is my leader."
Kentucky is also the favorite of the 6-7, 280-pound Adams.
"Kentucky, South Alabama, Buffalo, Memphis, Marshall and Southern Miss have offered me, and I like Kentucky," Adams said. "It would be a very good opportunity for me because they will be losing some senior offensive tackles."
Sandy Creek has some underclassmen to keep an eye on, such as OT Alan Knott and linebacker Corey Griffin from the Class of 2013 and quarterback Cole Garvin and wide receiver Demarre Kitt, who are in the Class of 2014.
"Kitt has really impressed during spring," Walker said. "He will have a chance to become a major recruit in the state of Georgia."
Hot duo at Henry County
Henry County (Ga.) is home to two major prospects in defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson and quarterback/athlete Chris Moody. Tomlinson, 6-3 and 268 pounds, will be a four-year starter on both sides of the ball.
"Dalvin has great hips, great feet and is a big-time athlete," Henry County coach Mike Rozier said. "He plays hard and practices hard. This kid has a great motor. He has so much more potential."
Tomlinson holds scholarship offers from Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Mississippi State, Boston College, North Carolina and many others.
"I am surprised by all of this," said Tomlinson, who has also won two state titles in wrestling. "I never expected it. Right now I am open and I am just trying to sort it all out."
Moody is a dual-threat quarterback with a good arm and has offers from Georgia Tech, USF, Virginia Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, UCF and Mississippi State, among others.
"He started for us a free safety as a sophomore and he was our quarterback last season," Rozier said. "He's strong and has a big arm. He can create and extend a play. Teams like Georgia Tech, USF, Indiana and UCF all want him as a quarterback.
Central Gwinnett (Ga.) is home to a couple college football prospects, but Francis Callon is the one creating arguably the most buzz. Callon, 6-5 and 265 pounds, moved in October to Georgia from London, where he played rugby and soccer. But here he is, first time ever playing football and has his coaches searching for adjectives and recruiters intrigued.
"He will be the surprise of the state," Central Gwinnett coach Todd Wofford said. "He's had a total of six football practices his entire life. He is a great athlete with great feet."
Callon also has a great motor and gives great effort on every single down. Whether he makes the tackle or not, he seems to always be around the ball. Ohio State, Tennessee and Ole Miss are showing great interest, while Duke could be a team close to offering.
Meanwhile, running back George Morris now has scholarship offers from Illinois, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky. Class of 2013 linebacker Trey Johnson continues to rack of offers. He's now approaching two dozen, including Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, FSU, Georgia Tech, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, South Carolina and USC. Georgia could be next to offer. Duke could be on the verge of offering wide receiver Malachi Jones. Central Gwinnett safety Aaron Taylor picked up his first two offers yesterday from Ball State and Gardner Webb.
Lovejoy DB names leader
One of the top cornerbacks in Georgia is Lovejoy's Rico McWilliams. The 6-foot, 180-pounder has 13 scholarship offers, including Central Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Arkansas, Nebraska, Cincinnati, Purdue, Wake Forest, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt.
"He's aggressive, physical and a great competitor," said Lovejoy coach Al Hughes, who is in his 17th season at the school. "Rico can do it all for us."
Of the teams that have offered, the personable McWilliams says the USF Bulls are his favorite right now.
"They were the first to offer, and I remember that," McWilliams said. "I had a good visit there. I loved it. I went down for a spring practice or game at the stadium. I love their recruiters and I have a real good relationship with those guys."
Hughes knows a thing or two about prospects, having had 159 players play college football in the last 11 years, and he says to watch offensive guard Jamal Covington this fall.
"He really reminds me of [Byron] Lee Isom," Hughes said. "Lee started for three years at Auburn and won a national title. Jamal has great hips and good feet. He can play and boy, can he pass the eye ball test."
Southern Miss has offered another Lovejoy player in Class of 2012 cornerback DuShonta Broughton.
"He's just a late bloomer," Hughes said. "He's a lot like Rico."
Banneker in College Park, Ga., is home to a handful of prospects, including Class of 2012 defensive back Chaz Elder, tight end/defensive end Larry Jefferson, wide receiver Artravious James and quarterback Justin Henderson.
Elder is the biggest name of the group. Over the last few weeks, his offer count has more than doubled to 18, as Arkansas, Auburn, Ole Miss, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State and Purdue have all offered him.
"It's been pretty surprising," Elder said. "I didn't think they would come like this. LSU was the latest to offer last week. Right now my three favorites are Georgia, Clemson and South Carolina. I have been to Georgia and Clemson and I hope to check out South Carolina this summer."
Jefferson, 6-5 and 212 pounds, committed to Louisville earlier this spring. He has a brother and sister and other family members there and remains solid to the Cardinals -- for now.
"Louisville is holding up," said Jefferson, who is expected to play tight end for the Cardinals. "I am excited to go up there. LSU just offered me, and to be honest, I wouldn't mind checking them out just to make sure."
The sleeper of the group is James, a 6-4 and 180-pound receiver. He has good hands and is tough in the air.
"I think that's when I am at my best, when I have to go get the ball," James said. "It can be high or low. It doesn't matter because I am going to get it. I run pretty good routes. Right now Southern Miss, Duke, USF and Georgia Tech are all recruiting me. They all want me to come to camp."
Henderson had a good year in 2010, his first as the starter. He threw for over 2,100 yards, rushed for 648 yards and accounted for 30 scores.
"He's a late bloomer and a true dual-threat guy," Banneker coach Marquis Slaton said. "Teams like Southern Miss, Tulsa, Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio and Toledo are all recruiting him. He's going to surprise some people this fall and have another big season. I have coached some good quarterbacks over the years like Cam Newton and Aryhel Freeman, and this kid can play."
Banneker has some talented prospects from its Class of 2013, including athletes Tyrell Brown and Justin Abrams, safety Marcus Albert and defensive lineman Todd Wooten. They are all honor students, too.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A tour of Georgia shows the Peach State is loaded with many top prospects, including a secondary at Creekside HS that leaves recruiters drooling.