Elite Junior recruiting recap: Defensive backs

Ty Freeman


Khalil Brooks (Mays): The speedy South running backs tried to get outside, but Brooks and the North secondary were able to shed their blockers and bring down the backs. On the first play from scrimmage Brooks fought off a block by Griffin receiver Keyston Fuller and brought down Taj Griffin, in one of the more impressive individual take downs of the game. Brooks was solid in coverage as well and has the speed and tackling ability to be a great gunner on special teams at the next level while playing the role of a run-stopping, lockdown corner. Brooks is accustomed to playing in one of the fastest regions in the state (6-AAAAA) and will be battle tested as he prepares for his senior season and beyond.


Taquar Stewart (Walton): Stewart has played corner and safety for Walton and did an excellent job at the cornerback position in the Elite Junior Classic. The standout track athlete is packed with solid muscle on his 5-foot-10 frame and can physically matchup with the taller and bigger receivers. Stewart’s safety backround definitely has helped him when he fills in at cornerback and he and the safeties were airtight on their side of the field on Saturday. Stewart has great ball skills and closing speed and does a great job of surveying the field. Stewart’s toughness and focus brings an all-business attitude to every snap, whether it is practice or a game.


David Curry (Buford): Curry is a born leader and possesses the traits needed to lead a secondary. Curry has state championship experience with his role in the Wolves’ dynasty and was the glue of the North’s nearly impenetrable pass coverage in the Elite Junior Classic. During the state championship, Buford’s young secondary was torched by Washington County receiver D.J. Sanders but this group looks strong heading into 2014 and Curry will be a huge factor.


Christopher Frederick (Cedar Grove): This Class AAA standout has college size at 6-foot-1 and was another example of how great the quality of tackling was in the first annual Elite Junior Classic. Frederick, who starred behind 4-star linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (South Carolina-commit) for Cedar Grove this season will be the Saints’ physical presence they can rely on in the middle of the field in 2014. Frederick will likely land several ACC and SEC offers over this summer and impressed Mays head coach Corey Jarvis (North defensive coordinator) this weekend in one-on-one drills and his tempo in practice. Frederick has a great attitude and plays with a lot of confidence and maturity.


Lewis Cousins III (Gainesville): Cousins has the luxury of adding a lot of weight to his frame 6-foot frame this offseason and the 175-pound defensive back has a nice future at the safety position. Cousins finished second on the Red Elephant’s in tackles last season and showed his ability to fight off blockers and break to the football in the Elite Junior Classic. Cousins was in coverage on the South’s lone receiving touchdown but it was a difficult play to make. Benedictine receiver Brad Stewart ran free off the line of scrimmage past the cornerback and Lewis did not have time to turn around and find the football to make the play. Lewis also had a possible interception that went in and out of his hands. Not playing for nearly a month is difficult and these missed opportunities were likely a result of the long time off. Cousins was all over the football field and enters 2014 as one of Gainesville’s defensive leaders.


Darius Slayton (GAC): Slayton was the cornerback that got caught looking when wide receiver Brad Stewart ran right by him in route to a 41-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half. The 6-foot-1, 3-star cornerback made up for it, however and recorded the Elite Junior Classic’s first ever interception in the second half and added a highlight reel 30-yard return after hauling it in. Overall, Slayton played an outstanding game and had twitter buzzing after his performance. Slayton is dangerous in coverage with his wide receiver size and hands but can also make plays in the run game and short screens. Two blockers set up on a screen to McEachern’s T.J. Rahming towards Slayton’s side and he fought off the blockers and dove in to make the tackle for no gain. Slayton is without question ready to make a career at the college level.




Trey Graham (Fitzgerald): Graham was on the receiving end of two huge plays by Tucker receiver LeKyle Lundie in the Elite Junior Classic. The first big play, Graham went for the pick but the ball was just out of reach and fell into Lundies arms on the jump ball. The second play was a similar jump ball that Lundie was able to gain position and grab. The Class AA standout can learn from the two Lundie receptions that went for 101 yards. Graham must learn to knock the ball down when he is going against a bigger receiver, something he did not have to deal with on a weekly basis in Class AA. With the speed to cover one the state’s best deep threats (Lundie), Graham’s best friend will be breaking up the pass. Jumping with one arm and the purpose to swat the ball away would have prevented both receptions and as Graham matures I think this is a skill he can easily master. Overall, Graham’s weekend of practice and game were still impressive for the growing cornerback.


Antonio Wimbush (Camden County): The All-Region-1 AAAAAA athlete was all over a smash route intended for Lundie on the first North pass of the game and impacted the game on the defensive side of the ball and special teams until the final snap. Wimbush’s huge kickoff return before the second half set up the South’s touchdown throw to Brad Stewart that tied the game up. Wimbush is an outstanding football player that can make the right decisions in nearly any situation he is put in. The only thing holding back the elusive 5-foot-7 Wildcat from being a nationally-recognized recruit will be his numbers in the combine. If Wimbush can improve his solid 4.7 40 time with some quick clock work in camps this summer he will have a very successful and busy offseason with the nation’s top programs.


Quayshawn Taylor (Ware County): Taylor is a 4.40 40-yard dash guy that used his speed to chop down screen plays before they could develop. Taylor tackles with great leverage and has incredible vision and instincts that translates over to the offensive side of the football when he takes carries at running back for the Gators. Taylor was a key to preventing the North running backs from breaking away any long scoring runs in the Elite Junior Classic. I love the way this guy flies to the football. Disrupting the short passes before the blockers can get out to set up the play is a testament to how quick Taylor can play the game.


Rashad Roundtree (Lakeside-Evans): Roundtree will be one of the top safety prospects in the state of Georgia coming out of the Class of 2015. Roundtree is already labeled a 3-star recruit with an offer from Duke and UGA on the table and stands 6-foot-2, 195-pounds. Roundtree’s size and presence was felt in the Elite Junior Classic and he was successful in coverage against the big North wideouts and also when matched up man-to-man with Archer’s 6-foot-4, 220-pound tight end Connor Redmond on a deep corner route. Roundtree plays like a linebacker in the ground game and steers quarterbacks away from testing him with his unique combination of size and athleticism. Expect him to be one of the most coveted prospects in the country before kickoff in 2014.


Stephen Houza (Lakeside-Evans): Houza did not get tested by the aerial attack of the North team, but that was due to his tight coverage with the North’s physical lineup of wide receivers. Houza is a special teams standout with his 4.40 speed and flew to the ball on the kickoff team. Houza’s open field tackling was showcased when the 5-foot-10, 170-pound safety made a great low tackle on a scrambling Daniel David downfield. Houza helped Lakeside-Evans reach the Class AAAAA state playoffs where they lost to eventual state champion Creekside, possibly the best team in the state. Expect the Panthers and the combination of Houza and Roundtree to continue climbing the ladder in Class AAAAA this season.




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