THERE IS A strong youth movement in high school football.Underclassmen are making a huge impact on their teams and the recruiting climate for the state.
Here’s a look at some of South Carolina’s top young talent from the Classes of 2014 and 2015 — the sophomores and juniors.
The junior quarterbacks will be as strong as the Class of 2011, which produced multiple prospects, including Everett Golson (Myrtle Beach/Notre Dame), Justin Worley (Northwestern/Tennessee), Robert Smith (Woodland/Clemson), Tony McNeal (Chester/Clemson), Zack Blair (Byrnes/Newberry), Tayman Garrick (Williston-Elko/Presbyterian), Caleb Griffin (South Florence/Presbyterian), Lorenzo Hammond (North Augusta/Florida International), and Dave Niddifer (Hammond/Newberry).
Some of 2014’s contributions at the quarterback position include:
Shuler Bentley (6-foot-1,180 pounds, Byrnes), Jacob Park (6-4, 210, Stratford), Luke Lancaster (6-3, 170, Gaffney), Will Hunter (6-0, 170, Lexington), Bo Baldwin (6-4, 215, South Aiken ), Ben Beck (6-3, 179, Woodruff), Mason Rudolph (6-5, 180, Northwestern), Derrek Olenchuk (5-11, 175, Dutch Fork) and Mitch Spires (Gilbert).
Other 2014 players who earned “prospect status” among recruiters from their sophomore year performances were Gaffney wide receiver Shaquille Davidson (6-3, 185), Spring Valley linebacker Christian Miller (6-4, 215), Bamberg-Ehrhardt linebacker Kevin Crosby (6-3, 220), Goose Creek running back Caleb Kinlaw (5-10, 175) and Woodruff wide receiver Blake Bone (6-3, 180), who I think could end up as a safety in college.
A few of the Class of 2015 (sophomores) are on the SCVarsity.com Watch List for top prospect rankings:
Shameike Blackshear, DE, Bluffton (6-5, 215): Got sparse amount of reps as a freshman, but was a dominating presence in preseason scrimmages. He is a star in the making.
Tavin Richarson (6-4, 200), WR, Byrnes: Younger brother of East Carolina WR Torian Richardson, Tavin has a long body and a big frame and will develop into a tight end prospect over the next couple of seasons. Great skill set as a receiver with soft hands.
Kelly Bryant (6-4, 190), QB, Abbeville: Has a lot of developing to do as a quarterback , but the athleticism he displays and the things he does just off of his raw talent make him a huge target for the Class of 2015 as an athlete.
Dorian Dickey (5-8, 165), DB, Berea: Aggressive defender, demonstrating great instincts for such a young player. He fights off blockers well in run support, demonstrating good tackling fundamentals.
Jarius Jenkins (5-9, 200), RB, Williston-Elko: Fast, powerful runner, rushed 93 times for 764 yards for an 8-plus yards per carry average and scored 11 touchdowns as a freshman in a back up role. Sub 4.5 speed in the 40 with a 315-pound bench press.
Terrell Vaugn (6-0, 230), DL, Blythewood: Relentless in pursuit of the ball and sheds blockers well with very little technique; when he learns how to read and recognize, and how to neutralize blocks, he’s going to be amazing. Needs to grow a bit.
Freddie Phillips (6-2, 176), WR, Pelion: Speed (sub 4.6) to separate from corners, makes great adjustments to the football and has very good hands.
Rion Davis (6-1, 175), DB, A.C. Flora: Very physical player with solid coverage skills. Has ability to play corner but best at safety, reading and reacting. Potential to be a star.
Al Walker (6-3, 190), DB, Lexington: Walker is a pure athlete and can play receiver or DB. He is athletic enough to play corner but projects more as a safety.
Trayvon Thomas (5-10, 185), RB, Darlington: One of the most dynamic players in this group. Rushed for more than 1,200 yards as a freshman last season. Elusive, great field vision, and deceptive power.
Baxter’s Blitz, which appears in The State on Mondays and Thursdays, is written by Jim Baxter, the owner of scvarsity.com. Read his previous columns on midlandspreps.com