LET’S LOOK AT the state’s underrated players. For many reasons — later bloomers, playing behind superstars until their senior year, non-glamour positions — these guys don’t get respect for their prowess on the field.
If you have heard of their names, you soon will.
QUARTERBACK: Daniel Thompson, Class of 2015, Boiling Springs: He got his first varsity start Friday night and broke older brother Dylan’s record, passing for 430 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ win over Nation Ford. We first saw him at our All-State Football Combine as an eighth grader, and he has won his classification at my past two QB1 Challenge events in 2011 and 2012. He is the state’s best quarterback prospect for the Class of 2015.
RUNNING BACK: Tyler Renew, Class of 2013, Ben Lippen: He plays in SCISA. If this 6-foot-1, 205-pound athlete played in the public schools system, he’d have a dozen offers from BCS and mid-major schools. He’s very physical with legit sub 4.6 speed. He is committed to The Citadel and fits the B-back role in their offense. He easily could play outside linebacker at the I-A level.
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OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: Parker Collins, Class of 2013, North Augusta: Great initial quickness, very physical at the point of attack, plays with good leverage, athletic enough to hit moving targets and pull and trap; but he is a little short (6-3, 265) for the tackle spot. Could easily move to center or guard.
TIGHT END: Zach Riggs, Class of 2013, J.L. Mann: Has good size and is a big downfield target at tight end. With additional speed, he should earn D-I offers. He gets off the line well, uses his big body to shield opponents and has reliable hands. He gets upfield well after the catch.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Obinna Ntiasawage, Class of 2013, Ridge View: Underrated because of his size (6-2, 250). Plays linebacker and defensive end for the Blazers. He can stuff the run, is excellent in pursuit; gets off the snap as good as any defensive lineman in the state.
DEFENSIVE END: Jamar Winston, Class of 2013, Dutch Fork: At 6-8, 240, Winston passes the eyeball test. He only began to develop into a good football player as a junior. He rates well as a strongside end with good strength and strong run-stopping skills. He reminds me of Devin Taylor (USC) from his days at Beaufort because he, too, was a late bloomer and looked awkward in his early high school years.
INSIDE LINEBACKER: Byron Johnson, Class of 2013, Swansea: He is a solid 6-1, 212 and very physical. Steps up and fills the hole well on inside runs and wards off blocks and gets to the outside quickly in pursuit.
OUSIDE LINEBACKER: Alex Garrett, Class of 2013, Byrnes: His height has hurt him in recruiting (6-0, 205) but this kid has a motor that doesn’t quit. He’s very physical, athletic and plays sideline-to-sideline; excellent in pursuit; excellent key and diagnosis with great instincts. Wraps up well in tackling and can pop hips well and is better than adequate in coverage skills. He is a ball hound.
CORNERBACK: Darius Jones, Class of 2013, Woodruff: Jones was phenomenal in one-on-ones at the SCVarsity All-State Football Combine and captured the event MVP award. Excellent backpedal, smooth and quick hips and ability to plant and transition with excellent speed. Has great instincts and is a physical corner in press coverage.
SAFETY: Romique Mobley, Class of 2013, York: Mobley, is a beast at 6-2, 190, with a frame that can hold another 20-25 pounds. He is very physical, very fast with sub 4.6 speed; he is a run stopper and has the ability to cover any position from tight end, to slot, to wide receiver.