Back Recruiting Preview: Islands at Jenkins

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Recruiting Preview: Islands at Jenkins

By Barry Every
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On October 3rd, Savannah (Ga.) Jenkins will host region rival Savannah (Ga.) Islands at Memorial Stadium. This event may pit two of the most talented teams to ever grace the gridiron in Savannah Public School history.

On October 3rd, Savannah (Ga.) Jenkins will host region rival Savannah (Ga.) Islands at Memorial Stadium. This event may pit two of the most talented teams to ever grace the gridiron in Savannah Public School history. There potentially could be 20-plus future FCS/FBS players on display battling for a chance to reign supreme in the Hostess City of the South.

Many may think I’m insane, but facts don’t lie. There are already seven players on each squad that hold at least one FCS offer, four of which have already committed to FBS schools.

This is a far cry from when the series began in 2014. Jenkins currently holds a (5-0) series lead while making the playoffs in each of those seasons. Over this five year span the Warriors have compiled a (45-16/30-5) record while capturing two Region Championships.

Islands on the other hand are the new kids on the block still battling for respect. The Sharks have managed just one playoff appearance in that timeframe while compiling a (12-39/9-24) record. Their most successful season came in 2016 when they finished (4-7).

The Warriors outscored Islands 188 to 27 in the first four meetings, but that all changed last year. Jenkins came back from a14-6 halftime deficit, pitching a second half shutout on their way to an 18-14 narrow victory.

Robert Zoller begins his fifth season as the head man at Islands with the most talented group of athletes he has ever had. Back are seniors Gerrard Brown, Michael Robertson, Jr., Austin Singleton and James Shellman. Robertson and Shellman each hold double digit FBS offers, while Brown has seven and Singleton one.

There are three new additions to the Sharks squad that also hold multiple FBS offers. The biggest addition is defensive lineman Jaden Hardy, formerly of Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine. Hardy is possibly the top overall prospect in Savannah for the Class of 2020. He currently has 23 offers which include the likes of Auburn, Colorado, Kentucky Louisville, Purdue, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia and West Virginia.

Also new to the roster is former Bluffton (S.C.) standout receiver Shamar Sandgren. As a junior he caught 41 passes for 611 yards and eight touchdowns. He recently gave a verbal commitment to Western Kentucky.

Then there is the long and lanky defensive back Devonte Wilson who transferred in from Savannah (Ga.) Windsor Forest. The junior prospect has collected early offers from Akron, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Western Kentucky.

These seven standouts are not alone. Several youngsters have already caught the attention of Coach Zoller and his staff. First there is junior defensive end DeMonte Smith.

“DeMonte has come in from Savannah (Ga.) Beach where he was a running back and defensive end as a sophomore,” Zoller said. “He is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound physical specimen that you can’t block. If he can get his grades right I see him being a 3-tech that will be just as good as Jaden Hardy.”

One player that Coach Zoller promises will make noise this year is Merritt Island (Fla.) transfer quarterback Davin Wydner.

“He stands 6-foot-5, 200-pounds and he can really sling the football,” Zoller said.  “He is a true pocket passer that can run. I even think he has another growth spurt in him and he could eventually be 6-foot-7, 240-pounds. In my opinion he will become a heavily recruited player: he is by an SEC and Big Ten type prospect.”

The third standout’s name may sound a little familiar, Langston Lewis. He is the younger brother of Savannah (Ga.) Calvary Day two-way lineman Fuches Lewis.

“He is a dynamic player and one to watch for sure,” Zoller said. “He will play wide receiver for us and has already shown incredible speed and boasts a 38-inch vertical. He is a stud baseball player that actually didn’t play football last year.”

This brings us to Coach Jason Cameron and his band of Warriors who have been the premier Savannah City School over the past decade. Cameron begins his third season having led the Warriors to a (21-5/13-2) record and back-to-back trips the GHSA-AAA Quarterfinals.

This is a team that is flat out loaded on the defensive side of the ball. Back are Darius Bush, Joah Cash, Ronald Cooper, Daylan Dotson, Taurus Simmons and Akelo Stone, all on the defensive side of the ball except Bush who led Jenkins in receiving as a junior.

Simmons chose West Virginia over 25 other suitors while Stone has selected Georgia Tech over 21 other schools. Cooper verbally committed to the Naval Academy and Dotson is heading west to Alabama A&M. Bush and Cash each have over a dozen scholarships offers but have yet to make their final destination known.

New at Jenkins is former Savannah (Ga.) Windsor Forest running back Damozzio Harris. As a sophomore he rushed for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns while racking up over 400 receiving yards. He has picked up an early offer from Mercer.

That leads us to the younger players that Coach Cameron believes will make an impact for the Warriors. They have also demonstrated the skill set to attract major college recruiters.

“The first player that really stands out to me is 6-foot-4, 270-pound sophomore Ashton Jackson; he started all 13 games at right guard for us as a freshman,” Cameron said. “He has a really high ceiling and I think he is a potential Power Five kid.”
Islands gained a major signal caller; does Jenkins have anything to combat that?

“Patrick Blake will be our signal caller; he started several games last year as a sophomore, but got hurt versus Islands and missed the rest of the season,” Cameron said. “He definitely looks the part and has had a great offseason. I think he could be a triple-option or a heavy RPO type player at the next level. He can really run and throws a decent all.”

The third player that has caught the watchful eye of Coach Cameron is Savannah (Ga.) Windsor Forest transfer Jacquez Williams.

“He is a 6-foot-2, 265-pound guy that will play defensive end for us this fall,” Cameron said. “He can really move for a big guy. His strength and ability to run will make us pretty good up front and allow us to move some of our other stud defenders around.”

These are just some of the names that have the ability to play at the next level. There are several other potential prospects that will surface as the season progresses.

There is no guarantee that either of these teams will run away with the Region Title. We would truly be disrespecting perennial powerhouse Savannah (Ga.) Benedictine. Danny Britt and his well-oiled Cadets will have something to say about the outcome of Region 3-AAA. Benedictine rendered just one touchdown to each of these teams last year.

This may be a once in a lifetime event, as the city may never have or never again see this much talent in a single matchup of city schools. One thing is for sure, the City of Savannah should be excited about the abundance of talent that will be playing football in 2019.