There will be no shortage of talent, or college coaches, on the field at the Georgia Dome this weekend, as the GHSA football state championships are set to take place. All seven games will be broadcast live on Georgia Public Broadcasting TV, as well as streaming online at gpb.org/sports. Here are some prospects to keep an eye on in each of the seven matchups.
Prince Avenue (11-2) vs. ELCA (12-1): Class A Private, Friday, 2:30 p.m.
The top prospect in the opening matchup of the weekend is ESPN 150 defensive end Isaac Rochell. He committed to Notre Dame over 20 other offers back in June. His teammate, running back Keyante Green, is a ESPN 300 prospect who committed to Purdue during the summer after being previously committed to UCLA. Eagles Landing Christian Academy has two ESPN 2014 Watch List selections to keep an eye on as well in defensive end Andrew Williams and quarterback/athlete Dalton Etheridge. Williams, whose brother Anthony plays defensive end at Georgia Tech, looks to follow Rochell’s path as one of the most coveted prospects in Georgia.
Buford (11-3) vs. St. Pius (12-2): Class AAA, Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Buford makes a state record sixth straight appearance in the GHSA state championship game, although this year it comes with a move up to AAA. Four-star offensive lineman Josh Cardiello, a University of Georgia commitment, leads a group of seniors that also includes Western Kentucky running back commitment Dontravious Wilson and USF tight end commitment Mikey Bart. Two underclassmen to watch are ESPN 2014 Watch List linebacker Korie Rogers and athlete Thomas Wilson. Rogers, who can play inside or outside linebacker, has offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida and Georgia, among others. Wilson could project at running back or cornerback at the next level, and ECU has offered so far. Their opponent, St. Pius X, recently lost ESPN 2014 Watch List selection and Georgia defensive back commitment Nick Glass to transfer. They still have another ESPN 2014 Watch List defensive back in Nick Ruffin, who already has offers from FSU, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and North Carolina, among others.
Ware County (13-1) vs. Gainesville (11-3): Class AAAAA, Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Jimal McBride might not be the tallest prospect at a little more than 6 feet, but the 290-pound senior plays big, with 98 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and five sacks during the regular season. His play during the playoffs is key reason why the Gators have held opponents to only nine points per game. Gainesville wide receiver and South Alabama commitment Caleb Hayman has benefited from playing alongside ESPN 2014 watch list quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is only 17 yards from breaking the career record in Georgia for passing yards. The junior already owns the career record for passing touchdowns with 105, and the Clemson commitment has thrown for 3,707 yards and 47 touchdowns this season, along with 1,356 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground.
Dooly County (11-2) vs. ECI (12-1): Class A Public, Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
It might be the A championship game, but the biggest talent will be on the field at the Georgia Dome Saturday as ESPN 150 defensive lineman and five-star prospect Montravius Adams leads Dooly County on its quest for a first state title. Several college coaches are expected to be on the sidelines to watch Adams play. Playing alongside Adams is another FBS talent in Jaylen Daniels. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound senior has made 87 tackles & seven sacks this season, and picked up his first offer from Troy Wednesday.
Jefferson (13-1) vs. Calhoun (14-0): Class AA, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Calhoun quarterback Taylor Lamb continues to show why South Alabama could be getting a steal for the 2013 class. Lamb has thrown for 3,230 yards and 34 touchdowns with only five interceptions, while also rushing for 423 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Sandy Creek (14-0) vs. Ridgeland (13-1): Class AAAA, Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Ridgeland features one of the most electric playmakers in the country in ESPN 150 defensive back Vonn Bell. Bell has made 146 tackles and three interceptions, while also adding 1,039 yards rushing, 627 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns on offense. Sandy Creek has no shortage of talent on either side of the ball. On offense, four-star offensive lineman Alan Knott is committed to South Carolina. ESPN 2014 Watch List WR Demarre Kitt has 68 catches for 1,151 yards and 11 touchdowns. Eric Swinney and Delvin Weems are two sophomore running backs who have shown FBS potential this season. Swinney, at 5-10, 180 pounds, has 1,350 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, while Weems, at 5-8, 170 pounds, has 1,042 yards and 16 touchdowns. The defense is led by ESPN 150 cornerback Shaq Wiggins, a University of Georgia commitment. Junior defensive lineman Chris Williams, who has early offers from Ole Miss and Texas A&M, has made 78 tackles, 11 sacks, one fumble forced, one fumble recovery and two pass deflections this season. Defensive back Corey Griffin has offers from Ball State and Indiana, and he has 71 tackles, 12 passes broken up, one interception, one fumble recovery, one blocked field goal and one blocked punt.
Lovejoy (13-1) vs. Norcross (14-0): Class AAAAAA, Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
The final championship game will feature a battle of two loaded squads.
Lovejoy has running back Travis Custis, a Georgia Tech commitment who has run for 2,058 yards and scored 35 rushing touchdowns while adding 26 catches for 288 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Arshad Jackson is committed to Auburn, but FSU and Ole Miss are making a push to add the 6-6, 235 pound senior. Georgia Tech also has a commitment from JuMichael Ramos, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound wide receiver. Preston Williams is a 6-4, 180 pound sophomore wideout who has received early interest from schools like Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. Linebacker Zane Fields and defensive back Tyrell Brown lead the defense, while junior linebacker DeMarquis Gates, at 6-2, 215 pounds, has the potential to be a big time prospect in the 2014 class.
Norcross counters Custis with ESPN 150 running back Alvin Kamara, who has 2,120 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, with 218 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Alabama and Georgia are battling it out for his services. ESPN 2014 Watch List running back/athlete Myles Autry has 560 yards rushing and six touchdowns, 611 yards receiving and nine touchdowns, and 440 yards and four touchdowns coming on punt returns. Schools across the country are lining up to offer the 6-foot, 185 pound versatile junior. At wide receiver, 5-10, 175 pound junior wideout Clinton Lynch has shown the ability to stretch defenses with 761 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Junior Chris Herndon is still getting acclimated into the offense after transferring from Meadowcreek, but at 6-4, 218 pounds, he will be one of the most physically impressive players on the field Saturday. Class of 2014 offensive lineman Trent Jenkins is a mauler in the run game at 6-5, 314 pounds.
On defense, it all starts with ESPN 2014 Watch List defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The 6-5, 225 pound junior has 124 tackles, 18 sacks, one pass deflection and four fumbles caused, along with offers from coast to coast. Cal cornerback commitment Shon Akins has 85 tackles, 17 pass deflections, one interception, one blocked field goal and one fumble recovery. Kevin Mouhon has emerged as a BCS talent while notching 140 tackles, five sacks, two interceptions, four pass deflections and causing a fumble. Senior defensive end/outside linebacker Jahmal Jones has picked up several offers while having an impressive season of his own, racking up 99 tackles, nine sacks, one pass deflection, and one fumble caused.