COVINGTON, Ga. — Chris Edgar went to bed Monday night with five signs that his football program is moving in the right direction.
Bryson Wilcox, James Adams, Gavin Fletcher, Marcus Perdomo and Jalen Banks all were Alcovy players who received football scholarship offers from Birmingham Southern, a NCAA Division III school in Birmingham, Alabama.
For Banks, a National Honors Society inductee, it was his sixth offer, but for Wilcox, Fletcher, Adams and Perdomo, the Panthers’ offer was the first of what Edgar hopes is many more to come, both for these five and the entire 2019 class.
“It’s actually a great feeling,” Wilcox said. “Since my freshman year I’ve always waited for this moment. And now that I’ve gotten my first offer I know I can have more options and a plan for my future.”
“I’ve been saying these ’19 kids have the grades and they have the character and ability to make this a very special class,” Edgar said. “We had a good spring of recruiters coming by to see our kids, and the first thing they all asked about was grades. That’s the thing I’ve preached about most since being here, and the ’19 class is getting it.”
Edgar was also pleased that the relationship his program has built with Birmingham Southern has blossomed into guys having assurance of continuing their education and football career after graduation.
“Their coach played with my offensive line coach Zack Davis at Huntington, so that relationship was there,” Edgar said. “They loved our guys, loved their grades and just the character of all five of those guys stuck out to them. Of course a coach can’t make that decision (to offer) on his own.
“So he went back to their staff and as a staff they contacted us and told them they loved what they saw on film and in the classroom and wanted them to be apart of their team.”
Edgar said Perdomo, Banks and Fletcher would take an official visit this weekend while Wilcox and Adams will stay behind to compete with Alcovy in the Cam Newton 7v7 Tournament at Marietta High on Friday and Saturday.
The offers were particularly gratifying for Fletcher and Perdomo, both members of an offensive line that started off two years ago as a personnel weakness in Edgar’s program. The latest offers — along with both players riding the wave of being named all-region and all-county in 2017 — show that the Alcovy trenches can be considered weaknesses no more.
“It felt great and it was amazing to see the hard work pay off,” Perdomo said. “It was truly amazing being able to get my first offer along with other players on the team. It shows the work the offensive line has been putting in. We are a group that’s been working our hardest to get better each day.”
Fletcher agreed, also crediting Alcovy’s coaching staff for the tutelage to help them become offer-worthy.
“The coaches don’t lie,” Fletcher said. “If you work your butt off on the field and off the field, colleges recognize that. I’m really blessed that a college coach had faith in me and also my other teammates.”
Adams, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, had a similar testimony.
“My coaches been telling me to always be patient and trust the process all throughout the season and offseason, and that’s what I did,” he said. “Having my dad and coaches push me every day day makes it feel outstanding to have an offer upon me.”
All four athletes said, almost in a union reply, that offer No. 1 only makes them hungrier for more.
Edgar called the uptick in recruiting attention at Alcovy another subtle sign that things are trending upward down Georgia Highway 36.
“In the past, we’ve had guys like Okon Godwin, Ryan Adams, Curtis Benson and a couple of other guys get looked at early on, but to have five already where whatever happens this year they know they already know they have a place to play,” Edgar said. “I don’t think that’s happened at Alcovy. But it shows people know about us. I’m excited. The meter’s turning a little bit, but we’ve still got to produce on the field.”
In addition to these 2019 athletes finding love on the recruiting trail, Edgar mentioned several class of 2020 players who are constantly turning heads. He said twins Adrian and Andrae Robinson continue to “pass the eye test” every where they go.
Adrian was offered by FAU as a freshman, but Edgar expects the offers to continue to accumulate as the twins head to Kentucky and Cincinnati this weekend on personal invites and then to camps at Auburn and Georgia later in the summer.
Working the night shift: Beyond the hot start to summer recruiting, the Tigers also jumped out of the blocks fast for summer workouts. Edgar said there were at least 90 players in attendance Monday as Alcovy opened summer practices at 7 p.m. Edgar said the 7-10 p.m. summer practice schedule was something different designed to maximize numbers with some of his kids juggling various responsibilities.
“We’ve done early in the morning before and had pretty good turnouts,” he said. “But some couldn’t get there because Mom had to work. We also have a few kids who actually have to work themselves to help out the family. So this schedule allows those kids the chance to work a good shift at their jobs and still make it to workouts. It’s hard on parents to get out to get them at 10 p.m., but they’re there, and everybody wants to be here.”
Emerging behind center: As pleased as Edgar is with the development of senior quarterback Nick Simmons, he came into the spring perhaps equally concerned with the depth behind him. Simmons’ 2017 playing time came about due to a season-ending injury to then-starter Cam Anderson. And Edgar isn’t naive enough to think that something similar couldn’t happen in 2018.
“Last year we had two quarterbacks, but this year we’re down to one guy with varsity experience,” Edgar said. “And just like Nick was a play away from starting last year, if Nick goes down now, we’ve gotta be ready to have a plan.”
So far it seems that 6-foot-2, 190 pound Javari Smith may be a big part of that plan. Smith got some behind center in the spring game at Woodland, and showed promise, particularly as a runner. Edgar is confident in his ability to make plays in the passing game as well, and will test out that ability as soon as this weekend at the Cam Newton tourney.
“I told my coaches Javari’s going to get at least one series in every game at the Cam Newton,” Edgar said. “Just to get him started doing things he’d need to if it became necessary. He’s a different kind of player than Nick. He’s a run threat and real aggressive, but he can throw it well. The conditions at Woodland didn’t really give him a chance to show that.”
Edgar said opponents this fall can probably expect to see Alcovy design some packages for Smith’s athleticism.
Outside affirmation: Even the most confident among us like a little reassurance from someone not close to the situation. And Edgar got that not too long ago, as schools were coming through Alcovy during the spring and already in the first week of summer to observe.
Edgar’s gone on record as saying the past offseason and spring was, probably, the most grueling since he’s been there — which is saying a lot, given that Edgar’s been at Alcovy in some capacity since the school began.
But one particular observation from a college coach may not have ended with an offer to one of Edgar’s players, but it certainly provided him an occasion to stick his chest out a bit in pride.
“Just our whole physicality has increased overall,” he said. “You look at a guy like Perdomo and see how impressive he is when he gets his hands on people. It’s just nasty. Recently a Power Five school came in on a physical day, and he looked at our workouts and said, ‘Coach, I’ve been recruiting and coming around you guys since you’ve been here, but you’ve got some dudes out here now.’
“As a coach it makes you see that we’re starting to see some fruits. We’ve got good kids. They work hard and do the right thing. Character’s unquestionable. Even if they’re a half inch shorter than what a college coach likes, it doesn’t matter. They’re realizing if you can play you can play.”