Rising Seniors program selects first group 

May, 17, 2012
Many of the invitations to the 2012 Georgia Junior Bowl game will not go out until October or November, but 17 players earned a spot April 29 by competing in the new Rising Seniors West and East Football Camp.

Rising Seniors co-founder Joe Burns held a three-stage camp at Tri-Cities High School in Atlanta for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. Seventeen sophomores were chosen by Burns and his instructors as top performers and were invited to the Rising Seniors experience.

[+] EnlargeJaquan Simpkins, Brooks Barden, Jonathan Slaton
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comFrom left, sophomores Jaquan Simpkins, Brooks Barden and Jonathan Slaton weren't selected while playing against fellow sophomores, but they wound up being selected later, after competing against older players.
The 2012 Rising Seniors program will culminate with the Georgia Junior Bowl, a game featuring 100 of the Peach State's top collegiate prospects split into two teams, an East squad and a West squad. Last year’s roster included such highly recruited players as Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly County), Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton), Tray Matthews (Newnan, Ga./Newnan) and Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) all played in last year's game. Recruiting for Adams and Lawson skyrocketed after their individual performances in the game. They were not the only ones, as 64 of last year's participants have been offered FBS-level scholarships, and more will likely pick up offers during the summer.

"The biggest problem we have had over the last two years is hearing about a kid that should have been in our game but we didn't know about him until it was too late," Burns said. "So this year we held a camp to let the kids receive some professional instruction, hear a positive message and earn their way into the camp. We picked some guys that really fought for it."

Wide receiver Terry Googer (College Park, Ga./Woodward Academy) was among the prospects who came to the camp to earn a highly coveted invitation.

“I have been training for this ever since last year when I watched it,” Googer said. “I really wanted to be in it. When they called my name I was ecstatic. It made my day perfect.”

Heading into the camp, Googer did not have any offers. He quickly picked up five after being selected, from schools including South Carolina and Mississippi State.

Running back Sedrick Palmer (McDonough, Ga./Henry County) also came to the camp focused on picking up an invitation and went home pleased.

“I was real proud,” Palmer said. “I felt like all my hard work had paid off. The minute they called my name all I could do was thank God. It was all I could think about.”

Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) was a quick choice among the camp instructors to be included in the game as a defensive end. Despite a slow start, Sawyer made a big impression.

“I was nervous at first but I did my work,” Sawyer said. “I came in and competed and did what I needed to do to get into this game. I knew ahead of time what it would take. I am very excited. We had a tough defensive line group, but it all came down to who wanted to compete.”

Trent Jenkins (Norcross, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian) was also in the defensive line group and he wanted to compete. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound sophomore was a unanimous choice to be invited to the game.

“I did what I was coached to do,” Jenkins said. “I am extremely excited for this -- I can’t wait. I am looking forward to this helping me to get to college.”

Other players selected for the game:

  • Wide receiver -- Keegan Karim (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison)
  • Wide receiver -- Nate Brown (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett)
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