The upcoming Georgia Elite Classic Showcase provides an opportunity for football players to show off their skills, get recognition and possibly earn an invitation to one of the seven Georgia Elite Classic games in December. The Showcase, which will take place at Lassiter High School on Sunday, July 15 at 9 a.m., will be overseen by Rusty Mansell, 24/7 Sports’ Georgia recruiting analyst. All rising seventh through 12th graders are eligible to enter the showcase.
“Rusty is one of the best there is,” said Score Atlanta’s Craig Sager II, who’s been involved in organizing the events since the inaugural year. “It gives him a good look at the guys of the Class of 2020 or 2021 that he really hasn’t gotten a chance to look at before. With him being on the Georgia Elite Classic selection committee, it’s good exposure. In the last showcase (in April), there were more than several guys, even double-digits, that got an invitation to play in the all-star games this year, so that motivates.”
One of the players in last season’s Georgia Elite Classic Sophomore Game was a late selection, Lanier’s Zach Calzada, who recently committed to Texas A&M. According to Mansell, the Showcase, practices and the All-Star game helped kick-start Calzada’s recruiting profile.
“You take somebody like Zach Calzada,” Mansell said. “I knew a little bit about him, I had seen him before. But I didn’t get a chance to see him as much as I probably should have. But after seeing him in the practices (at the Georgia Elite Classic) and then seeing him in those games, I knew then he was a lot better than myself, and the recruiting industry, was giving him credit for.
“He was a late addition and we were trying to decide, and we made a great call, a lucky call. I remember standing by some guys who are pretty respected in the industry that day who were like, ‘whoa, who is this guy? He is good.’ So it didn’t take long after that for his recruitment to jumpstart.”
The athletes in the Showcase will be put through a dynamic warmup before they are divided into groups and rotated through the following testing stations for measurements: 40-yard dash, agility shuttle and broad jump. The players will get two attempts at each station.
After all the measurable tests are completed, players will be divided once again and evaluated on their performance in position-specific drills, 1-on-1s and 2-on-2s. Immediately following the Showcase, the results of each player’s performance will go out to more than 250 colleges and their coaching staffs.
“It’s a good change, in terms of the overall environment,” said Sager, who walked on at the University of Georgia and played high school football at Walton. “They’re pretty competitive. You’re doing drills against other guys in the same position and you’re trying to show off your speed and skills in a different way. It’s different than a normal football practice. You don’t have your own coaches there, of course. But it’s just a raw version of the drills. The pressure is kind of taken off and you’re just out there competing. It’s more like a personal approach.”
In terms of recruiting exposure, the information and opportunities provided by the Georgia Elite Classic Showcase are crucial for the success of getting recognized by colleges across the nation.
“It’s a good measuring stick to see them in person and actually watch them compete up close,” said Mansell. “Sometimes during games, you have 22 other kids and you’re trying to focus on everybody. But when we get a setting like this, we can really focus on individual athletes and get a good look at you. Plus, we will have verified heights and weights, and verified 40-yard-dash times. That is so important.”
The staff, which will be hand-selected by Mansell, will be composed of high school coaches from around the Atlanta area.
“I have guys that work my MVP camps,” Mansell said. “I have guys that I trust, and they know how to run a camp. But I trust them to evaluate. … I can’t see every [player] all day long. So, as the position group coaches, I trust them to evaluate. That’s the kind of staff I’ll put together that day, but it will be high school coaches from the Atlanta area.”
The Showcase check-in time is 9 a.m., and players can register before the event for $60. For walk-ups the day of the event, the price to register is $85. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.