Showcase standouts strengthen Georgia Junior Sophomore Elite Classic

Six juniors earned roster spots in the 2015 Georgia Junior Elite Classic after attending Sunday’s Elite Classic Showcase at McEachern High School, none bigger than Mountain View offensive tackle Jonathan Stewart. Stewart, who stands 6-foot-8, 291 pounds will suit up for the Junior American team on Dec. 29 as the event kicks off its third edition of the junior all star game . Three-star receiver Corey Reed will represent Mays on the American team and brings his 6-foot-2 frame and athleticism to a talented American offense.

The National Junior team added four defensive players over the weekend that stood out at the showcase. Buford cornerback K.J. Anderson was picked up and Central Gwinnett defensive tackle Emmanuel McNeil was added to the National team’s star-studded front. Linebackers Jeffery Burley (Jackson) and Jacob Gregory (Centennial) were also invited with Gregory providing long snapper experience to the National team as well.

There were a total of 13 sophomores selected from the showcase to play in inaugural Elite Sophomore game on Dec. 29, including Woodstock quarterback Garrett Bass. The 6-foot-2 Wolverine will quarterback the American team with North Gwinnett’s Cade Fortin. The sophomore American Team also added two offensive lineman. Jackson’s George Ball is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound guard and Arabia Mountain’s Angelo Miller will likely take the majority of his snaps at tackle with his 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame. Ola’s Christopher Rodriquez was added to serve as the American running back and he is coming off an outstanding sophomore season that saw him rush for 1,479 yards off 178 carries (8.3 yards per carry). The 6-foot-1, 191-pound sophomore has the physicality to play both sides of the football and scored 18 touchdowns this past season. Centennial wide receiver Blane Mason is joining the American team and he will start what could be a very busy offseason with recruiting interest continuing to gain steam. Metter’s Shamel Johnson (CB), Lamar County’s Sean Smith (DE), Fitzgerald’s Kierron Smith (DT) and Manchester’s Jontavious Ferguson (LB) will bolster an already deep American defense.

The Sophomore National team added cornerbacks Tre Douglas and Myles Sims. Douglas was a member of ELCA’s state championship team this year and Sims saw action in 6A quarterfinalist Westlake’s secondary this season. Mundy’s Mill center Corey Freeman and Walton offensive tackle Matthew Hall were added to boost an offensive line responsible for protecting Peachtree Ridge quarterback Fred Payton and Taylor County quarterback Gunnar Watson.

Double-header takes competition to new heights



By: Craig Sager


The third installment of the annual junior all-star game will feature a sophomore game for the first time. The newly-named Georgia Junior Sophomore Elite Classic will feature the best sophomores in the state squaring off before the juniors take the field in the backend of the double-header. In just two years, the classic has presented two thrilling games and incredible individual performances. Last year’s classic was dominated by North Gwinnett’s K.J. Hancock, who hauled in nine catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Hancock was a late addition to the classic that ended up winning the game’s overall MVP and is set to sign at Miami (Ohio) this February.

While the individual performances are always exciting to see, watching players from all over the state and from each of the classifications come together is a true representation of the excellence of Georgia High School Football. Blessed Trinity’s Conor Davis quarterbacked the South team with his four-touchdown performance and 20-of-26 passing for 357 yards last year. Davis hit Marion County’s Lorenzo Smothers on a crossing route that resulted in a one-handed touchdown grab that went viral around the football community. Two minutes later, the South team was on the board again as Davis connected with McEachern transfer Tyler Simmons, who then pitched back to Sam Jackson on the hook and ladder for a 55-yard touchdown. Davis also hit Colquitt County star Kiel Pollard for a 7-yard touchdown.

This all-star game boasts the top defensive talent as well and Roswell’s Marcelino Ball stole the spotlight last year. Ball turned in 10 tackles to lead the North team and included one tackle for the loss, while earning the Defensive MVP.


This year’s double-header will provide plenty of star-power in both matchups. In the sophomore game, the future of some of Georgia’s best programs take the stage, including six freshman phenoms that will join the action.

In the junior game, some of the state’s biggest names are set to star in this year’s game. Mill Creek center Tyler Fannin anchors the American team offensive line and will have quarterbacks Bailey Hockman (McEachern) and Baron Radcliff (Norcross) to snap to. Out wide, Northside-Warner Robins star Tobias Oliver will get looks at receiver, which will be a change of pace after quarterbacking the run-heavy Eagles offense.

On the National Team, Grayson’s Chase Brice and Griffin’s Tylan Morton will quarterback the offense. Glynn Academy’s electrifying quarterback and UGA-commit Deejay Dallas (ATH) will be able to take snaps at wide receiver and running back to showcase his coveted skillset. Roswell’s Sheldon Evans, who has rushed for over 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns this season will also lead the backfield. Defensively, Archer five-star safety Isaiah Pryor will team up with Roswell’s four-star junior LeAnthony Williams to challenge the American Team’s passing attack.

Second Classic Ready to Kickoff with State’s Top Talent

By Brian Jones
Photo courtesy of Rob Saye

The 2014 high school football season has come to an end with seven teams winning GHSA state titles at the Georgia Dome two short weeks ago. Before the state title defenses begin and a new class of seniors takes the Georgia gridiron next season, the 2014 football action will conclude at McEachern High School with the second annual Elite Junior Classic.
The second installment of the all-star game will let the biggest stars from the Class of 2016 go head-to-head and give us a glimpse into the season to come. There will be a North and a South team that have been split up by the region the player comes from. Regions 1-4 are placed on the South team and any player that plays on a team that belongs to Regions 5-8 will be on the North Squad.

The North team will be led by Norcross head coach Keith Maloof who has won the Class AAAAA state title two of the last the last three years. Maloof has won 150 games in his career and he comes from a rich tradition of coaching in his family. His father, George Maloof, won a state title at St. Pius, and his brother, Kevin Maloof was the head coach at Dacula from 1991-2010.
Maloof will have a very experienced coaching staff working with him. Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis leads the North assistant coaches. Other coaches on the staff include Ron Gartrell (Stephenson), Terry Crowder (Creekview) and Derek Cook (Kell).
In the North trenches will be Archer’s Kobe Smith, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle committed to N.C. State, will line up in the North trenches. The South Team’s defensive line will be manned by McEachern’s Julian Rochester, the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state. Rochester, a 6-foot-5.5, 280-pound defensive tackle will represent McEachern with his Indians’ teammate, running back Sam Jackson.
On the South team, Colquitt County wide receiver Kiel Pollard comes off a dramatic 28-24 victory over Archer in the Class AAAAAA state championship. Pollard hauled in seven receptions for 59 yards in the victory.
Defensive back Marquez Callaway has jumped into the top 5 Peach State prospects for the Class of 2016 on several recruiting boards and will represent Warner Robins on the South Team. West Hall standout Tyquan Statham will take snaps at defensive back for the North Team and will face South Team quarterback Logan Byrd and a deep group of receivers. Byrd is a 6-foot-3 signal caller from Veterans and is committed to Virginia Tech.
Collins Hill defensive end Tomon Fox and Upson-Lee offensive tackle David Marshall skyrocketed in the recruiting ranks this past season and like all the competing players in the Elite Junior Classic, can continue climbing the ranks with a strong showing Monday, Dec. 29
Ware County’s Franklin Stephens is the South’s head coach. Stephens has won two state titles at Tucker and led Lamar County to a state title appearance in 2013.  Like Maloof, Stephens will have a very talented coaching staff working with him. Lee County head coach Dean Fabrizio will be the offensive coordinator while Spalding head coach Nick Davis will be the defensive coordinator. Other notable coaches on the roster are Tom Fallaw (Cairo) and Welton Coffee (Camden County).

With this being the second even Elite Junior Classic, many may think that this is just an all-star game for the best juniors in the state. That’s one of the reasons for the event, but this is also a way for fans to get a look ahead at the 2015 season.
Having Rochester in the Classic will give the state a chance to watch its No. 1 prospect line up against the best competition. Early commits like Byrd (Virginia Tech) give fans of their future schools a chance to see them play before they arrive on campus.
The event also gives the players a chance to learn from some of the best coaches in the state with Maloof and Stephens. Both coaches have built winning programs and mentored all-state selections and future college stars.
The Elite Junior Classic is also a way to celebrate Georgia high school football and our newest class of leaders. The players participating in the Elite Junior Classic have already become leaders on their teams and will continue to be looked up to next season as they try to get to the Georgia Dome in December. The coaches and players are all competitors and bragging rights will be on the line for the North and the South but this is a game that celebrates the talent in our backyard. When a player dresses out for the Elite Junior Classic it is more than another football game. It is a unique opportunity to step on the field and compete in the spotlight with the biggest names in the state. Lastly, it is an opportunity for each player to represent his school and community in the Peach State’s newest postseason tradition.

State Finalists return to the Field in 2nd Annual Elite Junior Classic

By Craig Sager II
Photo courtesy of Sonny Kennedy

It will be exactly two weeks from the conclusion of the 2014 state championships and high school football season that we will see the state’s top juniors check in at McEachern High School for the second annual Elite Junior All Star game (Dec. 27). Amongst this year’s participants in the Class of 2016 showcase are state finalists Kyle Davis, Dylan Singleton and Kobe Smith from Archer. The format will once again be North vs. South and the three teammates will suit up for the North team. Davis is a wide receiver committed to South Carolina and Singleton is a two-way star that received an offer from UGA to add to his list of collegiate fan mail following a three-touchdown performance in the Class AAAAAA state championship. Smith, a defensive tackle, stands 6-foot-4, 295 pounds and committed to N.C. State on Dec. 1. On the South Team, wide receiver Kiel Pollard will represent state champion Colquitt County. Buford defensive lineman Ben Frazier will join the North Team.

There will be plenty of headliners in this year’s classic, including the No. 1 ranked prospect in the state heading into next season, Julian Rochester, a 6-foot-5.5, 280-pound defensive tackle from host McEachern. Rochester will line up on the South Team with his Indians’ teammate, running back Sam Jackson.

Defensive back Marquez Callaway has jumped into the top 5 Peach State prospects for the Class of 2016 on several recruiting boards and will represent Warner Robins on the South Team. West Hall standout Tyquan Statham will take snaps at defensive back for the North Team and will face South Team quarterback Logan Byrd and a deep group of receivers. Byrd is a 6-foot-3 signal caller from Veterans and is committed to Virginia Tech.
Collins Hill defensive end Tomon Fox and Upson-Lee offensive tackle David Marshall skyrocketed in the recruiting ranks this past season and like all the competing players in the Elite Junior Classic, can continue climbing the ranks with a strong showing Monday, Dec. 29.

Elite Junior Classic announces first wave of selections

By Craig Sager II
Photo courtesy of Sonny Kennedy

The second installment of the Elite Junior Classic is slated for December 29, 2014 and the selection process is well underway. Newly-hired Ware County head coach Franklin Stephens will be the South team head coach this year and his first 25 players have been confirmed.

Leading the offensive line is 6-foot-5, 270-pound tackle Chris Barnes. The Lee County lineman is already ranked as a composite four star and holds an offer from Ole Miss. Spalding’s Brodarious Hamm is a two-way star on the line at 6-foot-3, 292 pounds. Macon County’s Raymond Smith, Lowndes’ Tarik Adams and Jonesboro’s Jeffrey Taylor are guards. Veterans’ Nate Lee will likely take the center role at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds and he’ll be snapping to his teammate, Logan Byrd.

Byrd is the first South quarterback selected to this year’s Elite Junior Classic and the 6-foot-3, 229-pound passer is one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the 2016 class. Byrd already holds offers from Duke, Illinois, Minnesota, Marshall and Charlotte among others.

Two receivers have been selected for the South team including Colquitt County’s Kiel Pollard. The rising junior has been catching touchdowns in the Packers offense since his freshman season. Maysoe Wiley is a towering 6-foot-4 wideout from Cook and is physically one of the top prospects in his class.

The South team snatched Jenkins running back Arkeem Byrd and will be able to utilize his ability to run and catch out of the backfield. During Byrd’s sophomore season with Jenkins he rushed for 598 yards off of 61 carries (9.8 yards per carry) and found the endzone eight times while adding three receiving touchdowns to his totals.

The South defense picked up 13 players in this first wave, including McEachern’s Julian Rochester. The 6-foot-5.5 defensive tackle is the top rated 2016 prospect in state and is currently the No. 3 prospect in the nation and a five star prospect according to 247sports’ composite rankings. Rochester has already received offers from Auburn, Georgia, Alabama, Clemson and Florida.


The North team is led by Norcross head coach Keith Maloof and will have Landmark Christian quarterback Stockton McGuire running the offense for much of the game. McGuire has started since his freshman season and leads the offense while participating on the cross country team and basketball team during the Eagles’ offseason.

Running back Jarvis Terrell was picked up by the North team and will be able to showcase just how fast he is against the elite competition. The all-purpose back has been outrunning his competitors since his freshman season with the Trojans and even blazed the turf at the MVP camp with a 4.39 40 last summer.

In the North secondary, Archer’s Dylan Singleton is one of four cornerbacks confirmed for the North team this year. Singleton is a composite four star athlete with offers from Duke and South Carolina.

The North’s first two wide receivers are a pair of Gwinnett standouts. North Gwinnett’s Josh Imatorbhebhe and Archer’s Kyle Davis are well-known prospects with a ton of offers. Josh’s older brother Daniel played for the North team last year in the Elite Junior Classic and they become the first siblings represented in the event. Daniel accepted his offer to Missouri this offseason and Josh already has piles of collegiate fan mail to search through. Missouri, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, California and Wake Forest have already offered the 6-foot-2 wideout and the two brothers will star in the 2013 Class AAAAAA finalist North Gwinnett’s potent passing attack this season. Davis holds offers from Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Iowa and Kentucky and is a versatile piece in the Tigers’ offense at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.


Offensive Line

Chris Barnes – Lee Co.

Brodarious Hamm – Spalding

Nate Lee – Veterans

Jeffrey Taylor – Jonesboro

Raymond Smith – Macon Co.

Tarik Adams – Lowndes

Tight End

Mack Nash – Camden

Running Back

Arkeem Byrd – Jenkins

Wide Receiver

Kiel Pollard – Colquitt Co.

Maysoe Wiley – Cook Co.


Logan Byrd – Veterans

Defensive Line

Julian Rochester – McEachern

Deondre Garderhire – Camden

Ronald Wilson – Lee. Co.

Michael Carter – Jackson


Dedrick Mills – Ware Co.

Jarrod Jones – Westlake

Pippen Davis – Lamar

Antonio Leroy – Monroe

Defensive Back

Harrison Poole – Camden

Marquez Callaway – Warner Robins

Kyron Smith – Macon Co.

Nigel  Warrior – Westlake

Devon Henderson – Marietta


Jordan Griffin – Jonesboro


Offensive Line

James DeMatto – Kell

Alex Smith – Etowah

Running Back

Jarvis Terrell – Carrollton

Wide Receiver

Kyle Davis – Archer

Josh Imatorbhebhe – North Gwinnett


Stockton McGuire – Landmark Christian

Defensive Line

Ben Frazier – Buford

Tomon Fox – Collins Hill

Kobe Smith – Archer


Roury Glanton – Carrollton

Jacob Brashare – Dacula

Will Harper – Sandy Creek

Defensive Back

Dylan Singleton – Archer

Charlie Woerner – Rabun County

Kendrick Grady – Norcross

Javon Jackson – Sandy Creek

Elite Junior Classic selects head coaches for 2014 Event

By Craig Sager II
Photo of Keith Maloof courtesy of Rob Saye;
Stephens courtesy of Franklin Stephens

The Elite Junior Classic has announced the two head coaches for the second installment of the all-star football game slated for Dec. 29, 2014. Norcross head coach Keith Maloof will coach the North team and Lamar County head coach Franklin Stephens will lead the South squad. Maloof has guided Norcross to consecutive state titles in Georgia’s highest classification and included a perfect 15-0 season in 2012. Maloof graduated from St. Pius X where his father served as head coach for 26 seasons.

Maloof’s experience includes 30 years of coaching and 19 years as a head coach. In addition to a 143-61 career coaching record and 70.1 winning percentage, Maloof’s know-how in working with the state’s top prospects is among the best in the business. Norcross had more than two-dozen seniors sign football scholarships this year and the Gwinnett school has turned into one of the most prolific talent factories in the nation when it comes to producing college athletes. Last night at the Atlanta Sports Awards, Maloof was named Coach of the Year over all other Atlanta-area coaches, including candidates from college and pro sports.

franklin-stephens-headshotStephens shares a similar resume with two state titles at Tucker, including a perfect season in 2011. However, Stephens’ impressive track record has been built in just seven seasons as a head coach. Stephens led Lamar County to the Class AA state finals last season and has gone 26-2 in his two years at the school. Prior to his arrival, the Trojans had won 10 games in a season just twice since 1970. The Keysville, Ga. native played for Burke County and was the Southern Conference lineman of the year at Georgia Southern in 1994. Stephens served as Tucker’s head coach from 2007-2011 and led the Tigers to their only two state titles. With Tucker, Stephens coached more than 13 all-state selections. Stephens owns a 90-8-1 career record (91.4 percent) and was able to be a part of the inaugural Elite Junior Classic this past season, serving as a defensive assistant on the South team.

Having two head coaches that are so accustomed to winning and coaching Georgia’s elite crop of talent increases both the appeal of the game and the experience of the players.