Back Prospect Review: Erk Russell Classic

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Prospect Review: Erk Russell Classic

By Barry Every
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A look at the top recruits from the 6th Annual Erk Russell Classic.


South Effingham

Makenly Newbill, 6-1/235, DE/ILB (2018) – The ESPFC standout started the game at inside linebacker and switched to defensive end to start the second half. In the contest versus Tift County Newbill recorded six tackles and one TFL. He is definitely a chaser, but probably lacks the ideal speed to play linebacker at the next level. This young man really uncoils from the hips when he strikes ball carriers. He often times will launch himself with reckless abandon to stick his helmet on the tackle. He currently has three high level FCS offers and most likely projects as a pass rushing defensive end.

Sleeper: Matthew Brown, 6-0/200, OLB (2018) – Brown was the leading tackler for the Mustangs recording eight stops and one PBU. He has the fame to easily hold the weight to project as an outside linebacker in college. What really stood out about his performance was his ability to run sideline to sideline, he can really stride out. Brown is worthy of FCS looks in my opinion.

Tift County

Rashod Bateman, 6-1/170, WR (2018) – The Minnesota commit did not disappoint catching seven passes for 124-yards and one score. He is slight in stature and will need to add more muscle mass to have the same impact at the next level. That being said he has good top end speed and a lot of wiggle that allows him to make tacklers miss in the open field. Look for him to have a huge season and perhaps break receiving records.

Ches Jackson, 6-4/280, OL (2018) – Jackson played right offensive tackle, but remember his signal caller is left handed so he is protecting his backside. He is long and lean, but must add some upper body strength to have more pop when run blocking. There is no doubt about Jackson being light on his feet and he excels as a pass protector. He is a very solid pickup for Appalachian State.

Andrew Johnson, 6-2/225, ILB/OLB, (2018) – Johnson was very quiet in the first half, except for that 55-yard scoop and score that deflated the spirits of his opponents. Someone must have got onto him at halftime as he came out of the locker room making the first three tackles. Johnson is physically impressive and possesses the skillset to project as an outside linebacker. He does need to work on getting off blocks, on runs right at him. But remember this, he is still transitioning from defensive end to linebacker. You can’t teach someone to run like he can, Johnson can flat out fly. Consider him a solid pickup for the Oregon Ducks.

Sleeper: Griffin Collier, 6-1/190, QB (2018) – Collier proved to be an excellent game manager with a high football IQ. He completed 16 of 20 passes for 200-yards and three touchdowns. What really stands out about this signal caller is the fact that he throws the ball to spots on the field, he is not a sight passer. As soon as the receiver makes his last plant Collier has the ball out of his hand. He throws with nice touch and should break the all-time Tift County passing mark in his next game, he needs less than 40-yards.

Effingham County

DeMonte Lee, 5-11/185, S (2018) – It was clear that this heat-seeking missile was not afraid of contact. He led the Rebels with eight solo stops, unfortunately you don’t want your defensive backs being the leading tacklers. Lee may be a bit undersized for a college safety, but he can run and really lower the boom. He made plays in the box and near the boundaries. Right now his only offer is Georgia State. Lee should have a big year for the Rebels and that could lead to more offers.

Michael Richard, 6-4/270, OL (2018) – Physically the most impressive offensive lineman I have seen this year, four games and two scrimmages. He absolutely has no bad body weight and a frame that will allow him to play at 300-pounds. Richard is a natural hip and knee bender with a flat back in his three-point stance. He spent most of the game going head-to-head with the state’s top pass rusher. But, he won his share of battles using a powerful punch and good hand placement. His size and athleticism will allow him to project at several positions along the line. His lone offer is from West Point.

Sleeper: Zebrandon Gant, 5-9/185, WR/KR (2018) – Everyone in the greater Savannah area is aware of his teammate and cousin, DeMario Gant. But, this Gant has that compact body style like a powerful all-purpose back. In the loss to Coffee he caught four passes for 46 yards and a score while returning the opening kickoff 94-yards to pay dirt. Gant has good speed, but his biggest asset is his elusiveness and ability to bounce off tacklers. He would make a great slot receiver at the FCS level.


Dalrone Donaldson, 6-3/180, WR (2018) – Donaldson is your prototypical long and lengthy vertical threat. He has that deceptive long striders speed and the ability to snag the ball out of the air like a ping pong ball. He only had two catches for 70 yards, but both went for scores. He will need to add more muscle mass to combat physical corners at the next level. Donaldson is still a basketball star finding his way on the gridiron, but he has continued to improve his route running. He currently has four FBS offers.

Derick Newton, 6-1/268, DE (2018) – The reigning TFL and sack leader in Georgia came out of the locker room with his hair on fire. Newton played both defensive end positions and recorded ten tackles, seven TFLs and a sack in the 35-20 win over Effingham County. His pass rushing style is a tad unorthodox, but his play is so intense. He reminds of a young David Pollock. Newton will also chase the ball all over the field, as he made several tackles outside the box. And he taught one back in this game about the importance of going low while pass protecting. He currently has offers from Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Kansas State and Virginia.

Sleeper: Jameon Gaskin, 5-10/230, ILB/RB (2018) – Last season Gaskin led the Trojans with 166 stops, this year he is doing double duty. His performance in this game was one that makes legends. He carried the ball 14 times for 152-yards and two scores, Gaskin hadn’t played running back since junior high school. Defensively he racked up nine tackles and returned an interception 25-yards for a touchdown. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a back run behind his shoulder pads with authority. He currently has a couple NAIA-type offers as a linebacker, but if he continues to run the ball like a bull moose don’t be surprised if he gets bigger offers.


Toombs County

KeShawn Morgan, 6-0/225, RB (2018) – Last season Morgan played both running back and linebacker, but in this contest he was strictly on the offensive side of the ball. I think he came into this game not at full speed as he only carried the ball 14 times for 84-yards. A year ago versus East Laurens he ran for 244 yards on 27 carries. Morgan definitely passes the eyeball test and is not afraid to stick it up the middle. He did bounce one run outside for over 25-yards showing very good speed for a big back. He currently has four FBS offers with Tulane and USF leading the way.

Sleeper: Ervin Mincey, 6-0/220, DE/OLB (2018) – Mincey should be considered a bit of a tweener, he plays defensive end but probably better projects as a linebacker in college. His unofficial stats versus East Laurens were seven tackles, three TFLs and a game ending sack in a 10-8 victory. Mincey has a great looking frame and he can definitely run. The question is can he play in space? Coach Marsh did mention after the game that Kennesaw State was showing interest in this young man at one point.

East Laurens

Sleeper: Artemus Sanders, 6-1/285, DE/DL (2018) – Let’s face it East Laurens has been on hard times of late in football and any player on this team should be considered a sleeper. Sanders played defensive end in the game, but he possesses a great body for projecting as a nose guard in college. Unofficially he recorded 11 tackles and three TFL’s versus Toombs County. He played a major role in keeping the Bulldogs power rushing attack in check. The one position college coaches always seem to be scrambling for are interior defensive lineman, so I implore FCS and FBS colleges to take a look at this young man.


Jermaine Patterson, 5-11/175, WR/KR (2018) – Patterson is definitely one of the most dynamic two-sport athletes in the entire Southeast. As a junior he averaged 27.1 points per game on the hardwood. As a football player he looks a little bit like a Peter Warrick clone. He is always, and I mean always going to make the first tackler miss after he catches the ball. On the night he caught six passes for 102 yards and one score while returning a kickoff 70-yards. He does need to work on catching first, then putting on his elusive groove. Some people think he will end up playing basketball, but for those college coaches curious about his football skills; he’s definitely major DI.

Sleeper: Richard Jenkins, 5-11/185, S (2018) – Jenkins is a former linebacker turned safety and it showed, not in a bad way. He had a game high 14 tackles and was one of the few bright spots on a defensive unit that gave up nearly 400-yards on the ground. Jenkins comes down hill and will really stick his facemask on the ball carrier. He most likely projects as a strong safety at the FCS level.

Screven County

Tyquan Johnson, 6-3/190, WR (2018) – Wow, does this superior athlete look the part of a serious vertical threat. Johnson has legs longer than a giraffe and he can really ride out. What he did show me on this night is the ability to adjust to the ball once it’s in the air. The Screven County passing game seemed a tad out of synch in this contest so Johnson had pedestrian type numbers, three catches for 61-yards. I do look for the Gamecocks to iron out their passing attack and Johnson to have a monster year for one of the top GHSA-AA teams in the state. He is currently committed to South Carolina.

CJ Wright, 6-0/285, DT/RB (2018) – What can’t this muscled-up ball of furry not do? He’s committed to Georgia Southern in football, came in second in the state in wrestling and won the Discus and Shot Titles in the last six months. Wright only carried the ball five times but went for 67-yards, simply punishing the Bluffton defense. He also recorded three tackles while kicking off for the Gamecocks; yes that is a sight to behold. I don’t think there is a football player in Georgia that is stronger or put together better than this future Eagle. Wright is without a doubt the most pivotal component on the Gamecock team and their quest for a State Championship.

Kashawn Robinson, ILB/OLB, 6-1/210 (2018) – When opposing coaches want to know who you are after the game, that’s the ultimate compliment. Robinson paced Screven County with nine tackles and one TFL. He also had a 12-yard touchdown run and caught a 37-yard touchdown pass on his only offensive touches. He is a headhunter that is looking to destroy ball carrier. This kid can run like the wind and hit like a Mack Truck. The only reason fans are not hearing more about this prospect is the fact that he will most likely have to take an alternate route to FBS football. So junior college coaches looking for a stud backer, you need to visit Screven County.

Sleeper: Kim Hunter, CB/ATH, 5-11/170 (2018) – It was passed onto by Head Coach Ron Duncan to keep an eye on this guy. Well Coach Duncan was right, Hunter carried the ball nine times for 101 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball he recorded five tackles and forced fumble. Hunter has excellent top end speed and more wiggle than a salsa dancer. He most likely projects as a slot receiver or corner at the next level. He currently is without an offer, but if he keeps putting up big numbers someone will come calling. Hunter already has a qualifying test score.

Sleeper: Erick Roberson, S/ATH, 6-0/190 (2018) – Roberson transferred from Dublin (Ga.) before the season began. A team that was already loaded picked up another tremendous all-around athlete. He carried the ball six times for 79 yards and one touchdown while recording three tackles and a pick on defense. He can really ride out and possess the elusiveness in space to make tacklers whiff. Roberson probably projects as a ball-hawking safety in college. Like Hunter he already has a qualifying test score in case college recruiters are curious.