Back Prospect Review: Lanier at Richmond Hill

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Prospect Review: Lanier at Richmond Hill

By Barry Every
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SP Recruiting Expert Barry Every breaks down the top prospects from last week's matchup between Lanier and Richmond Hill.

Richmond Hill, Georgia – Four plays is all it took Buford (Ga.) Lanier to take a 13-0 first quarter lead, somehow the Wildcats seemed unfazed. By halftime Richmond Hill (Ga.) held a 20-13 lead and would never look back on their way to a 48-34 victory.

Senior running back Taj Barnes did most of the damage for the Longhorns with 187 yards and two long touchdown runs on 17 carries. Richmond Hill countered with standout running back Jalen Rouse. The senior put on a show, gaining 210 yards on the ground while scoring five touchdowns on 23 carries.

Defensively the Wildcats did not allow a first down until 4:48 of the third quarter despite the 27-20 score. Two Richmond Hill interceptions leading directly to scores would turn the tide for victory

Junior free safety Greggory Freightman had a second quarter pick six for the Wildcats first touchdown. Then in the fourth quarter senior linebacker Timothy Fortson shut the door on a possible Lanier comeback with a fourth quarter theft. Two plays later Rouse hit paydirt for the fifth and final time.

Lanier finishes the season (10-2/4-1) while Wildcats head to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1996. It will be a battle of Wildcats this Friday as Richmond Hill (8-3/4-0) hosts Valdosta (Ga.) (10-2/3-1).

Below are my top performers from each squad based on their performance and athletic potential. Though only eight players were chosen, more than a dozen players from this contest were included in the weekly XOS Digital Prospect Report. This report is distributed to over 200 DI through DIII colleges.

Lanier Longhorns

Taj Barnes, 5-9/180, RB (2020)

Offers: Fordham Commit
Comments: Barnes was able to show off his blazing speed with touchdown runs of 56 and 64 yards. Each touchdown jaunt saw him bypass would-be tacklers near the line of scrimmage the he outraced the Richmond Hill secondary to glory. He ended the evening with 187 yards on 17 carries. The speedy all-purpose back finished the season with over 1,500 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. He also added eight catches for 200 yards and a pair of scores. Barnes possesses excellent overall body structure and plenty of quick twitch muscle fiber. His speed makes him a threat to score on almost any play.

Kristopher Burress, 6-3/175, S (2021)

Offers: None
Comments: Burress may be a new name for some, but it shouldn’t be. The long and lanky safety recorded seven solo and two assisted tackles versus Richmond Hill. For the season he racked up 88 tackles, three TFL’s, seven PBU’s and one FR. Burress is able to close the gap quickly with his long elegant strides, than he will deliver an unmerciful blow to the ball carrier. The bottom line is he is simply not afraid to come up in run support. He most likely projects as a strong safety at the next level with the ability to roam centerfield. Look for his recruiting stock to take off soon.

Tyson Cooper, 6-1/300, DT (2021)

Offers: None
Comments: College coaches looking for a massive space eater that is near impossible to move off the ball should take a gander at this behemoth. Cooper recorded five solo and two assisted tackles in the loss. He has a wide powerbase and arms the size of legs which allow him to anchor down and not concede ground. Make no mistake, this gridiron giant is light on his feet and can move down the line to make plays. His upper body strength and hand placement on offensive linemen allow him to control the line of scrimmage. His body type and athletic ability are a rare combination and a highly coveted trait by college recruiters.

Cole Thornton, 6-3/170, WR (2020)

Offers: Fordham Commit
Comments:  Thornton is a touchdown making machine with deceptive speed and shiftiness. His reception to touchdown ratio is incredible as he ended the season with 35 grabs for 674 yards and 14 scores. His 19.25 yards per catch is also very impressive. The great thing is I was able to see it for myself, as he caught five passes for 101 yards and two scores in the playoff loss to Richmond Hill. His numbers would have been even bigger but he was overthrown on a couple occasions. He can stretch the field and is a wizard in his route running in the red zone. Thornton is definitely one of the more under recruited players in the Peach State.

Richmond Hill Wildcats

Jordan Clark, 5-10/162, ATH (2021)

Offers: West Virginia (1)
Comments: Clark made possibly the most incredible catch of the game. Early in the third quarter with the score 27-20 the Wildcats had an improbable 3rd and 17. Clark was able to fight through a defender on an underthrown ball, corralling the rock just before it hit the ground. The result was a and a pivotal first down conversion. Clark is that Mr. Do-it-all as he plays both sides of the ball and returns kicks. His numbers may not be gaudy but without his effort the outcome could have been different. He finished the contest with four tackles, three catches for 49 yards and 97 return yards. Clark most likely projects as a ball hawking quick cover corner at the next level.

Jalen Rouse, 5-11/175, RB (2020)

Offers: Marist, Stetson (2)
Comments: Rouse is the reason you don’t fill up your scholarship allotment early. His junior campaign saw him rush for just over 600 yards, going over the 100-yard barrier twice. As a senior he has now carried the rock 213 times for 1,670 yards and 23 touchdowns, going over the century mark in every game but one. He’s as slippery as a greased-pig at the county fair and has that extra gear to take it the distance.
Versus Lanier he scored from the running back position and multiple times from the true Wildcat-Formation. But possibly his most impressive play was his catch in the flats that should have been for six, but was called down short of the goal line. Time is winding down to Signing Day; who will give this high quality back with great grades and an 1190 SAT a chance at stardom?

Nathan Vickers, 6-2/210, DE (2021)

Offers: None
Comments: A tenacious stem-winder that never gives up on a play, the only way to describe this young man. He may be slightly undersized, but up close in person he appears longer and more muscular than one would think with a sideline glance. Vickers started a little slow but ended his second round campaign with eight tackles, four TFL’s, three sacks and two QBH’s. He was the main defensive cog that made it impossible for Lanier to comeback. He’s quick off the ball, uses his long arms and hands to keep defenders off his body while playing with good pad level. Most importantly Vickers never, ever gives up on a play. He may be athletic enough to project as a 3-4 pass rushing OLB.

Britton Williams, 5-11/160, PK (2021)

Offers: None
Comments: Ahh, only my second chance to write about a kicker this season. No one should underestimate the importance Williams played in the outcome of the game. For starters he made both field goal attempts (39, 25) while going six for six on extra points. But it’s the hidden yardage advantage this young man gave his team that most likely sealed the victory. Williams was six of eight on touchbacks. And the two that didn’t make the end zone were returned short of the 20-yard line. He demonstrated incredible hang-time on all his kicks and definitely displayed the overall ability to be considered a legitimate scholarship level kicker.