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Friday, March 15, 2013
Uncovering Georgia's sleepers: Offense

By Kipp Adams

With the acceleration of the recruiting process, not having an offer in March can lead to panic for some prospects. Here are five offensive players (and two athletes) in Georgia who have yet to pick up an offer from a FBS program.

While there is no way to know just how the process will unfold for these recruits, their talent suggests that interest will continue to grow as more colleges evaluate them on film and in person.

Jaquan Simpkins, Brooks Barden, Jonathan Slaton
Quarterback Brooks Barden (center) is a sleeper prospect in the state of Georgia.
Brooks Barden (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville), QB, 6-foot-2, 203 pounds: Cartersville head coach Frank Barden thinks his quarterback has all of the tools needed to play at the next level. And that’s not just because he happens to be his father.

The junior passed for 2,315 yards and 34 touchdowns and zero interceptions in 12 games before throwing for 322 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in the quarterfinal and semifinal playoff games. He also rushed for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. Barden thinks his star quarterback just needs to wait his turn.

“Everyone is saying quarterback offers are sometimes slower to go out, and with most schools taking only one, everyone has the same three or four quarterbacks at No. 1 and No. 2 on their board,” Barden said. “Once those go off the list, I expect all of those schools to come after Barden. He is the Bobby Hurley of football -- very smart and understands the game very well.”

Keion Davis (Fairburn, Ga./Langston Hughes), RB, 6-foot, 182 pounds: After three years, Davis has finally found his niche on the gridiron. As a freshman, Davis played defensive end, wide receiver and occasionally defensive back on the junior varsity team. As a sophomore he played some linebacker and wide receiver. Coming into his junior season, head coach Willie Cannon tried Davis out at running back.

After running for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns, and adding 157 receiving yards and three touchdowns, Cannon knows he has a special player on his hands.

“From the beginning of the season to now, he progressed and showed that 'it' factor that I am getting colleges calling me asking me where I hid him,” Cannon said. “I was not hiding him; I was just playing him where he felt comfortable. But there is no doubt he has a bright future and is only going to get better.”

Texas Tech, West Virginia and Georgia Tech are showing interest in Davis so far.

Dennis Edwards (Snellville, Ga./South Gwinnett), OL , 6-2, 305 pounds: A three-year starter that can play center or guard at the next level, Edwards is already on the radar for numerous colleges. South Gwinnett head coach John Small feels height is keeping Edwards’ offer list from blowing up.

“Dennis is an enormously strong kid that plays with a nasty attitude and moves very well for being over 300 pounds,” Small said. "If he was a couple inches taller he would be all over the map, but he is a dominant player.”

Shakenneth Williams (Macon, Ga./Rutland), WR, 6-2 200 pounds: Williams broke out as a junior, with 41 catches for 738 yards and eight receiving touchdowns, along with 35 carries for 136 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns.

“There is no doubt Shakenneth is a D-I receiver. He has strong hands, works hard, takes coaching well and, simply put, he has the talent,” Rutland head coach George Collins said. “He will be 6-2, 215 pounds in college. Georgia had him come up for junior day in January. Vanderbilt has him coming up this month and told him the visit would be worth his time. South Carolina is also showing interest. It is just a matter of time before he has a lot of options.”

TL Ford (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville), WR, 6-2, 180 pounds: After hauling in 30 catches for 560 yards and 10 touchdowns, Ford has emerged as a player who possesses the height, ball skills and frame to garner FBS looks.

“From his sophomore to junior year we saw such tremendous improvement, and I expect him to improve the same as a senior with added weight and continued physical development,” Barden said.

Myron Burton (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), ATH, 6-2, 197 pounds: Burton suffered through a high-ankle sprain in each leg as a junior, but Peachtree Ridge head coach Mark Fleetwood knows he has a sleeper just waiting to bust out.

“All of the ACC and SEC coaches are in here asking for him and he is a kid that is going to play at that level in college,” Fleetwood said. “He is dangerous with the ball in his hands, but coaching on the college level and seeing those type of athletes, I think he is going to fit in at free safety because he has a knack for finding the ball in coverage.”

Georgia Tech, Clemson, Mississippi State and Auburn are showing the most interest right now, according to Fleetwood.

Ryan Peterson (Ocilla, Ga./Irwin County), ATH, 5-9, 170 pounds: He rushed for 851 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 74 carries, along with six catches for 161 yards and four touchdowns. After getting an invite to the Under Armour combine, Peterson ran a blistering 4.47 and put colleges on notice to take the 20-minute drive off the interstate in rural South Georgia and check him out.

Playing running back and free safety in high school, Peterson could project as a slot receiver or a cornerback at the next level. Alabama and Mississippi State are showing interest.

“He is explosive, changes direction well, is powerful in the weight room and has the instincts that you really can’t coach,” Irwin County coach Jon Lindsey said.