Rosters are filling up quickly, but there is still time left. The Georgia Elite Classic is holding one final showcase at Walton High School this Sunday.
A total of 17 player invitations were handed out at the showcase hosted by Grady High School in April, and another 29 were awarded at Lassiter High School in July. Once the football season kicked off shortly after, it prompted the stream of invitations that continues to fill up the final roster slots of the event’s record-setting seven-game lineup slated for Dec. 27-28 at McEachern High School.
The lineup of games features a 7th and 8th Grade double-header, and concludes the following day with a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Senior Game, as well as the first-ever Brain Bowl. Leading the enormous task of player evaluations has been 247Sports analyst Rusty Mansell, and he sees the showcase as an opportunity to ensure these coveted final roster spots are carefully considered.
“Roster spots are at a premium this year for sure,” said Mansell. “Deciding the last spots in these games is so important, especially because we have so many players that are submitting film and forms online to be considered. By holding this showcase, it is one more opportunity for me to get to evaluate players across the grades up close. So I think it’s a great opportunity, and why this showcase is going to be so important.”
The showcase is open to players in the Class of 2019 down to the Class of 2024—and offers multiple opportunities as a result. This is the first year that there is a 7th and 8th Grade game being played, but there is already a strong tradition of star power that surrounds the 8th Grade Game with names like OLB Owen Pappoe (Grayson, Auburn); WR Dominick Blaylock (Walton, UGA) and RB Steele Chambers (Blessed Trinity, Ohio State) as past participants.
Invites are also able to shine during the practice sessions that lead up to the games, and this was the case last December with Marietta’s Class of 2020 standout Arik Gilbert—who was working with the Sophomore American Team at the time. The 6-foot-5 athlete already had more than 30 offers when he accepted his invitation to play in the game, but there was still plenty to gain. Gilbert’s participation was ultimately his audition for a spot in the U.S. Army All-American game, and it took him just one practice session to receive the official invite.
Equally gratifying, Pepperrell High School saw a pair of its players reach the next level as a direct result of participating in last year’s Georgia Elite. Quarterback Trevor Thomas and wide receiver T.J. Watkins were invited to play in the Senior Game and did not have a single offer between them beforehand. Both had great weeks of practice, while competing with guys from larger classifications, and capped it with outstanding performances in the big game. Watkins led the Senior American Team with four catches, while Thomas ran in their game-winning 33-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Thomas earned a scholarship at Maryville in Tennessee and Watkins is contributing as a freshman this year for undefeated Barry (9-0) team.
The Brain Bowl adds another layer to the recruiting opportunities—and calls for eligible academic standouts from the sophomore, junior and senior classes to make up its two rosters. Eligibility requires proof of a 3.0 grade-point average, a combined two-part (math and reading) SAT score of at least 1000 and an ACT score of at least 22.
2018 Georgia Elite Classic Game Schedule
At McEachern High School
Thursday, Dec. 27
7th Grade Elite 4 p.m.
8th Grade Elite 6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 28
Senior Elite 10 a.m.
Brain Bowl 12:30 p.m.
Junior Elite 3 p.m.
Freshman Elite 5:30 p.m.
Sophomore Elite 8 p.m.