Simmons' takeaways: Week zero in Georgia
High school football kicked off in Georgia over the weekend, and there was plenty of talent on display at the Corky Kell Classic. It started in Macon Thursday night with two games, then seven more in Atlanta Friday and Saturday.
We take a look at some of the top takeaways from this event.
PICK YOUR POISON
Buford (Ga.) ran for 314 yards Friday night in a 41-17 win over Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove. The Wolves have a three-headed monster in the offensive backfield. Michigan commit Christian Turner led the way with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. He also had arguably the biggest hit of the game while playing linebacker on defense. Tennessee commit Anthony Grant made some plays on defense, too, but at running back he rushed 10 times for 90 yards and a score.
Who’s next? Turner and Grant are seniors, then you have four-star athlete Derrian Brown in the 2019 class who had 73 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He already has offers from Florida, Louisville, Oregon, South Carolina and Tennessee, among others. It is a very talented backfield with three top-end running backs sharing the load.
PETERSON'S BEING PATIENT
Some thought Moultrie (Ga.) Colquitt County linebacker JJ Peterson would be committed by now. Alabama has been in the lead since the spring, and the Crimson Tide is still the team to beat, but Peterson is not ready to make his decision just yet.
"I would have liked to have had JJ done with recruiting in the summer, but he wasn't ready," said head coach Rush Propst. "We talked about it some, but he is still not committed to anyone right now."
Auburn and Georgia are next in line for Peterson, with the Tigers likely the No. 2 team at this time. Peterson visited his top three schools over the summer, and he likely will again before he commits.
"I do not know about official visits yet," said Peterson. "I have not even thought about them yet. I will just see what happens this season."
With Peterson's head coach having ties to Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey from his days of coaching at Hoover (Ala.), most expect Peterson to leave the state at this time.
DUKE'S DOING SOME DAMAGE IN GEORGIA
Out of the 14 commits in the 2018 class for Duke, three are from the state of Georgia. After their performances Saturday, it looks like the Blue Devils may have gotten a couple of steals.
Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer cornerback Taiyon Palmer has size (6-feet tall), and he showed off his ball skills against Snellville (Ga.) Brookwood over the weekend. He locked up new Auburn commit Matthew Hill all afternoon and picked off two passes. Palmer really blanketed Hill much of the afternoon in coverage, showing good quickness and change of direction.
A few hours later, Shaka Heyward did his thing between the lines. He is an athletic outside linebacker out of Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek who was all over the field. He would bring pressure off the edge then make a tackle on the other side of the field. Both are saying all the right things about their commitments to Duke and appear to be locked into their decisions.
MICHIGAN COMMIT IS MUM
Otis Reese made a lot of noise on the field Thursday night for Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County, but when he is not knocking pads, he is like a ghost.
The four-star linebacker is committed to Michigan, but he is avoiding all media, not talking Wolverines, his summer visits to Georgia or anything else right now. Reporters have traveled to his school, but Reese has not addressed his recruitment with the press. He was at a luncheon last Wednesday for the Corky Kell Classic, but he wouldn’t talk to anyone. And after the win Thursday night, Reese declined interviews.
What does this all mean? Is he solid to Michigan, but worried about hurting the feelings of local Georgia fans? Is he wavering and thinking more about the Dawgs than before? Is he just focused on the season and not wanting recruiting to be a distraction? Nobody really knows. He has visited Athens, but he will not discuss the trip, so Reese's thought process regarding his recruitment is unclear.
What is known is that he is a heck of a football player. In game one against Forsyth (Ga.) Mary Persons, he had numerous big hits including one which led to a fumble and turnover. He was around the ball a lot, he was very aggressive, and he is going to be a Rivals100 prospect when all is said and done.
Reese was the first 2018 Michigan commit. That verbal pledge took place the summer of 2016, over a year ago, so will the Wolverines hold on? Jim Harbaugh signed Reese's former teammate, Aubrey Solomon, in 2017, and Reese's older brother is playing at Central Michigan. So there are several factors that tie him to the Wolverines. Either way, this is something we will continue to track.
A DAY TO REMEMBER FOR VANN
What a day it was for Tucker (Ga.) wide receiver Josh Vann. The Rivals250 playmaker helped his team to a 28-27 win in overtime when he caught his third touchdown pass of the day. He finished with 157 yards and three touchdowns, and if that did not put him in the news enough, then his postgame commitment to South Carolina did. Vann had gone back and forth between Georgia and South Carolina for months, but that final visit to Columbia late in July really sealed the deal for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina is getting a leader who can change a game very quickly. He had two one-handed catches Saturday and was one of the top performers out of five games Saturday.
CAMARDA CAN BOOM IT
You are seeing more and more special teams players get scholarship offers each year. Kickers, punters and long snappers are being offered because they are elite and the best at what they do.
Georgia Bulldog fans need to know Jake Camarda, a commitment out of Norcross (Ga.). This young man can do it all. Each kickoff was a touchback, with two going clearly out of the end zone. He drilled a 52-yard field goal with about five to eight yards to spare. His punts were as impressive as anything, averaging 47 yards in distance and 4.6 seconds hang time.
If those numbers weren’t enough, he also dropped a punt inside the one yard line. Sure, quarterbacks get the most love any hype, but kickers change and win games. They are extremely important, and Camarda was a player who created a real buzz around Georgia State’s stadium Saturday afternoon. There hasn't been a starting kicker or punter named by Kirby Smart yet for the 2017 season, but if Camarda was there, he’d be the answer.
BIG MEN IN THE TRENCHES TO KNOW
On Friday night, Myles Murphy stood out immediately, as soon as Hillgrove took the field. He is a 6-foot-5, 240 pound defensive end in the 2020 class.
Then on Saturday, Jamil Burroughs came out of the tunnel for Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern at 6-3 and close to 300 pounds. He is a defensive tackle that is also in the 2020 class.
The defensive line position is down in the 2018 class as far as depth and top-end recruits, but Murphy and Burroughs are two to know moving forward. You can expect their recruitments to really pick up this fall. Auburn and Georgia have offered Murphy, and Georgia and South Carolina have offered Burroughs.
Murphy is a true end with athleticism and the ability to get up the field and use his length to cloud passing lanes. He flashed the ability to be one of the best in America in his class. Burroughs can play the five and three technique with his short-space quickness standing out as much as anything.