On an almost yearly basis Manning High School is churning an SEC-caliber player.
First, it was Dexter Morant, a defensive end at Georgia, in the Class of 2010. And it was corner John Fulton, who ultimately signed with Alabama. This year, it’s Phillip Dukes, a talented defensive tackle likely to choose either South Carolina, Clemson or Alabama.
It appears that trend will continue in the Classes of 2012 and 2013, too. Manning coach Robbie Briggs is excited about the potential of rising senior Phillip Henry and rising junior Jamal Keels.
Henry is a 6-foot, 170-pound corner. He suffered a deep thigh bruise before the 2010 season and missed the first eight games but returned in time for the playoffs.
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“Phillip Henry is kind of like our next Fred Bennett,” Briggs said of the former All-SEC performer from South Carolina who still plays in the NFL. “I’ll believe he’ll get several offers after early June camps. It’s hard to evaluate him as a corner in [Class AA] because we play so many run teams. But he’s definitely an SEC-, ACC-caliber player.”
Briggs hopes to add 10 to 15 pounds to Henry’s frame this offseason. He has run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and has a 40-plus-inch vertical jump.
Keels started as a sophomore at safety in 2010. He is a 6-1, 190-pound intimidator in the secondary. Due to his athleticism, he may end up playing quarterback for Manning in 2011, but he likely projects as a strong safety or outside linebacker in the Class of 2013.
We all know that South Carolina is a football state, producing far fewer basketball prospects than it does on the gridiron. The lack of hardcourt talent was noticeable in the Class of 2011 and doesn’t appear to be improving in the junior class.
ESPN’s Dave Telep, one of the industry’s most respected basketball recruiting analysts, mentioned Edisto’s Brice Johnson, a 6-foot-9, 200-pound forward ranked among the nation’s top-70 juniors, as the premier prospect. Lexington’s Shaq Roland, who holds several BCS-level scholarship offers, could also move into that realm, but analysts aren’t sure what will happen with his football career.
Johnson carries an offer from South Carolina and has visited campus. Roland holds both football and basketball offers from at least two schools, USC and Florida. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder also has a multitude of other football offers.
“Outside of that, we’re probably trying to dig some guys up,” Telep said. “It doesn’t look like a banner class. There certainly aren’t a lot of high-major guys from the class.
“[South Carolina] had a better good class in 2010, but it’s not a basketball state. It’s a football hotbed. It’s not going to produce a lot of basketball prospects outside of your occasional Kevin Garnetts and Ray Allens. That has been the exception and not the rule.”
Telep praised the efforts of USC coach Darrin Horn to make inroads and recruit in the state of North Carolina, which produces far more talent than North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and N.C. State have room to take on a yearly basis.