photo credit courtesy of Dawgnation
When the Georgia Elite Classic launched five years ago, it set out on a mission to showcase the same combination of on-the-field and off-the-field talent that draws college coaches from around the country to recruit from the state of Georgia each year. The inaugural Classic featured a star-studded junior game and built a foundation that encouraged continuous growth in the years since. A sophomore game was added for the first time in 2015, and last year’s event put three different recruiting classes on display by adding a senior game for the first time. This year will give the state’s top freshmen a chance to join the spotlight, and with more games, prospects, coaches and recruiting experts coming together than ever before, the 2017 Georgia Elite Classic is primed for a historic five-year anniversary celebration.
The three-day event begins on Dec. 26 when more than 400 prospects, representing over 170 different Georgia high schools, will check in and get ready for the first of their three practices before game day. Team bonding activities like a fun-filled night at Stars and Strikes on Dec. 27 and accommodations provided at the Galleria Marriott across from SunTrust Park will give players time to connect off the field. The first of the four games scheduled for Dec. 28 at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium will kick off at 10 a.m. with the freshmen and will conclude with the seniors at 5:30 p.m.
In addition to introducing the first-ever four-game lineup, new leadership was added to the Georgia Elite Classic team this past year. I.J. Rosenberg, the president of Score Atlanta, one of the organizers of the Corky Kell Classic and creator of the Georgia Elite Classic, brought on veteran coaches Tripp Allen of Brookwood and Jeff Carlberg of North Gwinnett to lead the selection process with guidance from recruiting expert Rusty Mansell of 247Sports. With 54 years of combined coaching experience in Georgia high school football between them, Allen (26 years) and Carlberg (28) as well as the eight head coaches in this year’s four games are some of the state’s best.
Walton’s Daniel Brunner and North Gwinnett’s Bill Stewart will coach the senior games, while North Cobb’s Shane Queen and Stockbridge’s Kevin Whitley will lead the junior game. Jackson’s Dary Myricks and Milton’s Adam Clack will coach the sophomores while Fitzgerald’s Tucker Pruitt and Villa Rica’s Rico Zachery coach the freshmen.
Five-star wide receivers and UGA commits Dominick Blaylock (Walton) and Jadon Haselwood (Cedar Grove), the only two U.S. Army All-Americans in Georgia right now for the 2019 class. headline the junior game while Norcross kicker Jake Camarda, also going to play for the Bulldogs and one of the top high school kickers in the nation, will play in the senior game. The sophomore game will have defensive end Arik Gilbert from Marietta, who has a chance to be the top prospect nationally in the 2020 class and when asked about the freshmen game, Mansell said, “Both teams will be filled with a ridiculous number of players who will play in both the SEC and ACC.’’
2017 GEORGIA ELITE CLASSIC SCHEDULE
Thursday, Dec. 28
Freshmen Game 10 a.m.
Sophomore Game 12:30 p.m.
Junior Game 3 p.m.
Senior Game 5:30 p.m.