Often in community sports, the general focus regarding football athletes is geared toward the high school level of play. After all, many of these athletes provide looks into the future of college football, which has become a game with big business implications that almost match that of the NFL.
But what about the future of the high school teams – middle school programs?
The future generations of high school players are often overlooked during their middle school years when these players are the next group to potentially turn a high school program’s credibility around.
Recently, the trend of taking note of a player’s abilities as early as in middle school has gradually been on the climb, with colleges even recruiting players before they hit high school now.
In many cases it speaks to the fact that quality athletes exist on the field even before they hit Friday night lights. And that theme is no different here in Newton County.
One Cousins middle school standout in particular, Ramon Hernandez, has caught the eye of his Cousins head coach Patrick Jones, and could very well catch the eye of college football recruiters one day.
“We started to see potential in Ramon early last season,” Jones said. “He really showed a lot of his versatility in the first game against Memorial last year.”
Versatility is a key aspect in Hernandez’s attributes. Not only is he the starting quarterback in which he shows more dual-threat tendencies, but he can also play a power running back role – a position he mostly played last season during Cousin’s NewRock League runner-up in 2016, while possessing the “speed of a wide receiver,” according to Jones.
Hernandez’s athleticism and work ethic helped bring his team to the NewRock championship game, and while they lost to Indian Creek, Jones said Hernandez is working to get back there in his final season as a Cardinal.
“Ramon has goals this season to have a bigger impact on the field to help his team win a championship,” Jones said.
While the primary focus for Jones is getting the team back to the title game, he also is looking forward to Ramon growing as a leader, a goal he has been challenging him with on and off the field.
Jones is also looking forward to Hernandez’s future after the conclusion of this season.
“I believe that if Ramon keeps working hard and improving, that he can do some really special things on the football field one day especially at the high school level,” Jones said. “He’s a very talented young man with a bright future.”
In addition to the Cousins Middle standout, we heard from several other middle school coaches who shared their thoughts on middle school standouts in the county.
-Beyond Hernandez, there’s lineman James Amos, a 6-foot-2, 265 pounder who’s stronger than typical 8th graders at the point of attack.
- RB/WR Dallas Johnson and DB/RB Jatavius Weaver are solid.
-QB Jesus Zuniga is superbly athletic.
-Hunter Boyd, Yahir Coronado and Jawaski Gilliard look like next level linemen.
-RB Devin Clark will be Liberty’s feature back.
-WR Deion Lewis has big-play potential.
-DE Armani Russ anchors the D-line.
-RB Willie Shepphard, III, WRs William Nash and Nigel St. James give QB Detariuous Clayton talented targets.
-LB Tavion Ford, Amari Jackson and Justin Benton are solid and balanced.
-DB Quincy White may be the best in the Veterans’ secondary.
-DE Duval Hill won top defensive player at a summer MVP Camp.
-New head coach Frank Christian. He’ll have just four returning players from last year’s NewRock title team. But Indian Creek seems to always reload well.