March 9, 2009

Top talent struts stuff

ATLANTA - Some of the top talent in the state converged at Tri-Cities High Saturday to get in a practice before heading down to Tampa, Fla. for the 7-on-7 combine next weekend.

While the team planned to get two practices in, bad weather in the area forced Team Georgia to cram it into one session. After installing the playbook and getting acquainted, the players broke up into offense and defense to do some drill work. Here are some thoughts on how the team is shaping up.

While both quarterbacks are experienced playing in the system, both needed all the reps they could get to become acclimated with their talented targets. Blake Sims and wide receiver Tai-ler Jones took no time at all to get acclimated, since Team Georgia Head Coach Wofford is using the same playbook he uses at Gainesville High.

Sims showed great chemistry with Jones, connecting on a couple nice timing routes for touchdowns. North Gwinnett quarterback C.J. Uzomah is not only learning new technology, but he also has to dust off his throwing arm. Uzomah, at 6-foot-5, was the backup to Boise State signee Michael Tamburo last year, but moved to wide receiver when Cordero Dixson went down. While Uzomah plays in a similar system, the terminology was different so the reps were definitely helpful.

Running backs Storm Johnson and Juwan Thompson both showed good hands yesterday, with Thompson making a couple highlight catches in the flats.

Storm showed some shiftiness as well, which is important when it comes to passing competitions.

Backs will be utilized in the short passing game, and Juwan Thompson, showed very soft hands for a back with his size, and Thompson had some highlight catches on Sunday.

There were four wide receivers representing Team Georgia during practice, including arguably the top two in the state.

Jones continues to evolve into the total package at wideout, as he has put on almost 20 pounds of muscle and even looks faster since his last game in the playoffs last year.

Jones had numerous impressive catches, and looked to be in playoff form, and was competing as if it were as well. Henry County star Markeith Ambles, arguably the top prospect in Georgia this year, was almost unstoppable in practice. Every corner and safety tried at least once to cover Ambles, and he beat everyone with ease.

Tight end Brian Vogler of Brookstone rose to the occasion. Showing no lack of fluidness and hands, the 6-foot-7 prospect made many nice catches in traffic, and also beat defensive backs downfield as well. Depending on how much he continues to grow, Vogler still may grow into a fine left tackle in college. But he will be an incredible asset down in Florida next week and Vogler flashed the blend of size and potential to make it to Sunday

Getting off the line of scrimmage was made difficult by the physical presence of the three talented linebackers on the field. Clarence Jackson looked like a man among boys on the field.

At 6-foot-1, 215-pounds, was able to run like a running back, which could be his position in college. Tyrone Cornelius, of Stephenson, was the quickest of the linebackers in practice, and excelled in coverage in the teak scrimmage. Cornelius has experience at safety, and should project well as a weakside linebacker in college.

Any receiver or running back trying to get off the line of scrimmage inside ran into linebacker Michael Taylor, and most gave up trying at some point. An inside linebacker at Westlake, Taylor took the field at nickel and outside for the first time yesterday, and he made the transition well. His physical style of play frustrated players all day, and Taylor was impressive, calling coverage and being vocal around his new teammates.

The top cornerback in the state, South Paulding's Ryan Ayers, and his teammate Jordan Ellison, were on the field showcasing their shutdown ability as well. Ayers was hampering by a hamstring injury suffered at a track meet on Saturday, but he still showed the speed and instincts that has Colleges lining up to offer the top corner.

His teammate Ellison shows similar ability, but does not have the size needed to win the battles at the line of scrimmage or in the air. In what has to be considered a breakout performance, Westlake cornerback Darius Robinson had everyone talking after practice. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound corner had great hips, fluid backpedal, and speed as he blanketed receivers all day. Robinson has no offers right now, but look for that to change soon as the word gets out on the emerging defensive back.

Roving in the secondary for team Georgia were safeties Daunte Carr and Alec Ogletree. Carr has possibly the best size of anyone out there, and with experience will make a great safety or wide receiver. The question is, where does he fit best?

Ogletree was the leader of the defense, showing aggression and picking off multiple balls during the scrimmage with Tri-Cities. "Tree" was probably the most competitive player out there outside of Tai-ler Jones, and came up multiple times to cover Jones and Ambles one on one.

The Badger Sport 7-on-7 passing camp will be next weekend at Tampa, Florida, and Rivals National Analysts Barton Simmons and Jamie Newberg will be there to cover it.

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