Only six weeks ago we were celebrating the latest crop of football talent to sign scholarship Letters of Intent out of Newton County.
Included in that group were a trio of highly touted prospects in 4-star wideout Jeremiah Holloman (UGA), 4-star linebacker Jaquan Henderson (Georgia Tech) and 3-star product Eric Stokes (UGA), not to mention several others who either signed Division I scholarship offers or other high level Division II, JUCO or Division III schools.
But lest you thought that the county cupboard was void of big named talent because of the exodus of the Class of 2017, guess again.
Already, Newton County is showing that it’s able to produce football talent that the bluebloods of the college football world would want to come and pluck away.
While colleges are getting entrenched into spring football routines, recruiters are also getting around to get offers out to their most sought after targets. And a pair of local football athletes are at the top of many lists. Here’s a look at a couple of the athletes who are picking up offers at rapid pace.
Darnell Jefferies, Newton High School
6-foot-4, 280 pound junior defensive lineman,
3-Star Prospect, according to 247sports.com
Jefferies transferred back to his native Newton County to because he wanted to play in his Covington stomping grounds once again, and the Newton Rams benefited from it. Shortly after Jefferies wrapped up his junior campaign – one which saw his Newton Rams finish 6-5-1 with a first round state playoff loss to Mill Creek – the offers started coming fast and furiously.
Georgia Tech, UGA and Tennessee were among some of the first to offer. Jefferies is now up to 17 offers from the likes of Clemson, LSU – which just came on Friday – Miami, Alabama and Auburn. 247sports.com says that Georgia is the early favorite, but the last time we talked with Jefferies personally, he expressed that he was looking forward to taking his time and enjoying the process without pressing to make a fast decision. Jefferies took an unofficial visit to 2016-17 National Champion Clemson this past weekend.
It will be interesting to see how Jefferies’ game steps to the next level as a senior on that Newton defense as he’ll be seen as a major focal point for opposing offensive coordinators to scheme against.
Lamarius Benson, Eastside High School
6-foot-3, 305 pound junior OL/DL
3-Star Prospect, according to 247sports.com
Arguably the most talented and versatile interior lineman in the area, Benson is turning heads after a strong junior season with the Eagles wherein he anchored an offensive line that paved the way for what was, at times, an explosive Eastside rushing attack. Benson received his first SEC offer on February 25 from South Carolina, to whom he committed Sunday afternoon. He’s still sitting at six Division I offers, including overtures from Georgia Tech, Maryland and Georgia State, and will no doubt receive more, despite his being “100 percent committed” to his pledge to South Carolina.
Benson also took an unofficial visit to Clemson, along with Jefferies and several other highly regarded prospects. And as with Jefferies, all eyes will be on Benson as he no doubt will assume an even greater leadership role for the 2017 Eastside Eagles. With the graduation of quarterback Austin Holloway, running back Anthony Brown and wideout Josh Sims, the onus will be heavy on the offensive line to provide protection for whomever Eastside’s new signal caller is, and to give rising junior tailback Taylor Carter room to be his shifty self. Benson’s ability to rise to that challenge will no doubt open the door for more Division I offers to come pouring in.
Alcovy football back on the field
Alcovy football coach Chris Edgar decided that last week’s NFL Combine signaled the perfect time to get a portion of his 2017 team out on the field for combine-like workouts.
With high school spring football about two months away – including a fairly highly anticipated spring scrimmage with Newton – Alcovy began the homestretch of its winter offseason workouts by taking advantage of the spring like weather. Edgar sent his bunch out to do combine-like drills, including 40-yard dash races, 10-yard shuttle runs and other speed and agility work.
Some of Alcovy’s best times in the 40 were from players clocked at around 4.7 and 4.8 seconds – impressive, considering the fastest Tigers are in the throes of track season right now.
But Edgar has seen enough so far to be excited about what is to come in year two, after what could be considered one of the more impressive 4-6 2016 campaigns around.
“With what we have coming back next year, especially offensively, we feel really good about what we can be able to do,” Edgar said. “We liked the idea of putting these kids through the same kind of workouts the guys who are trying to be pros are doing. We know that the odds of people getting to that level are slim for anyone, but for many of these guys, this is what they want to do. This is where they want to go, so we wanted to give them a taste of it.”
Spring ball begins in May, and after several weeks of practice, it will culminate with the Newton scrimmage. Edgar has said that game will be a great measuring stick for the early trajectory of his program.
“You know that Newton is the school with a lot of talent, and we feel like if we can win that scrimmage or play well, it’ll speak well for where we’re headed as a program,” he said. “But if we don’t play very well, that still will show us what we need to work on.”
Make sure you stay connected to our sports Twitter page: @CovNewsSports and our website, www.covnews.com, where we’ll constantly update you with the latest recruiting information of our local football athletes.