Simmons on the Road: Corky Kell Takeaways
With all that is happening in the world, less than a week before the Corky Kell Classic was set to kickoff, there was serious doubt that it would happen. Games had to be moved to individual venues from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, teams had to be replaced, one game was cancelled, and there was a lot going on up until the first game Sept. 2, but the games went on and the nine-game event was a success.
Here are some takeaways from five games I witnessed in person.
Morrissette makes big return
De'Nylon Morrissette is back in Georgia after spending a year in Maryland, and he made his return known in a big way. The 2022 wide receiver was at Marietta in Georgia as a freshman, then moved to St. Francis in Maryland for his sophomore season. Football was cancelled there this fall, so Morrissette moved back to the Peach State and is now at Brookwood. In a thrilling four overtime win over Dacula on Thursday, Morrissette had over 200 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Since that performance, he has picked up offers from Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Oregon and Penn State.
Edwards was everywhere
There wasn't much Kaleb Edwards didn't do Thursday in the season opener. He was all over the field on both sides of the ball. He had a touchdown run where he flipped into the end zone, he had an interception on defense, he had a key pass break-up in the end zone and he caught passes and made tackles. The Georgia Tech commit was all over the field, and he clearly is the leader for Dacula and the heart and soul of the team. His team fell in a tough loss, but Edwards left it all on the field.
Adams opens season with a bang
Cherokee running back Keith Adams Jr opened the season with 185 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns in the first high school football game in Georgia's 2020 season. He did that battling cramps and a shot to the ribs, so he easily could have eclipsed the 200-yard mark if not for those issues.
He runs low to the ground with great balance, power and vision. He is tough to tackle, and that showed when he ran through numerous tackles Wednesday evening. Adams has an offer from Middle Tennessee State, but more are in store.
Horn to Hunter is scary
What an opener it was for Collins Hill, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles are led by two sophomores, four-star quarterback Sam Horn, and four-star cornerback (really an athlete) Travis Hunter — both showed up and made big plays Saturday morning.
Horn ended up going 27-40 for 354 yards and three touchdown passes. He also showed good mobility and had a couple of nice runs mixed in. He started a little slow, but got in a groove and made some nice short, intermediate and deep throws. He has connections to Tennessee, and the Vols have offered, so many talk about that SEC school with Horn, but it is others like Kentucky and Missouri in most contact with him right now.
Hunter, who locked down his side of the field and had a nice interception on a tipped pass in the second half, made the most noise at wide receiver in this game. The Florida State commit showed his speed and explosiveness when he got the ball in his hands and he made big play after big play. He finished with eight receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Hunter is still lean, and he needs to add weight and strength, but he is an elite talent that sits on the Seminoles' commitment list.
Chambliss checks boxes
Carrollton linebacker Chaz Chambliss is known for his intensity, effort, strength and ability to rush the passer. The Georgia commit showed all those things in game one. His team fell to Collins Hill, but Chambliss was very involved. The four-star applied constant pressure on the quarterback, he was in the backfield often, and he finished with eight tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and numerous quarterback pressures. Chambliss will arrive in Athens with a chance to contribute early as a pass rusher.
Miami commit shines
Lowndes made the trek up to Archer Saturday and won the game on the road with one of the stars being Miami commit Thomas Davis. The senior not only changed numbers from 95 to 2 this season, but he made the move from defensive end to linebacker as well. His frame is made more for the linebacker position, and with his first game on the second level, he made quite the impact. Davis picked off a pass in the first half, he made a couple of stops in the backfield and he showed good athleticism chasing the ball down a few times sideline to sideline. He is still learning the position, especially the coverage part, but Davis is a good athlete that shined much of this contest and showed why Manny Diaz and the Hurricanes pursued his talent.
2022 QB on the rise
Many that saw four-star quarterback Jacurris Brown play a year ago thought of him as a runner that struggled in the passing game. The arm strength was there, and he had the size that drew a lot of attention his way on the recruiting trail, but as a passer, he was very much up and down. He had a few missed opportunities as a passer in this game too, but he showed a lot of improvement in that part of his game. In the second half especially, Brown made some big throws. He finished with 165 yards passing to go with 145 yards rushing for a total of four touchdowns.
Super sophomore breaks record
Brookwood has many weapons on the offensive side of the ball and it all starts with 2023 quarterback Dylan Lonergan. The sophomore played well and made the throws when he needed to late (game went into four overtime periods), but he did miss on a handful of deep balls that could have changed the game. He ended with 433 yards passing, a new Brookwood record, and has the talent to be one of the top signal callers in the south.
Another Wooden has arrived
Colby Wooden signed with Auburn in 2018. The defensive end made a big impact at Archer, and now it is his younger brother's turn. Caleb Wooden is a safety in the 2022 class and showed up often in game one of his sophomore year. He was constantly coming up in run support Saturday, he scooped and scored on a blocked punt and he is on his way as a recruit. Duke and Georgia Tech have already offered Wooden, and as the season progresses, more will come. He has good size, he flies to the ball and he is physical.
Nichols plays up to ranking
Greater Atlanta Christian 2022 offensive tackle Addison Nichols is a top 100 player on Rivals, and he played to that ranking in the season opener. What stood out as much as anything in his performance was his strength and finishing his blocks. He took one Denmark defensive lineman 15 yards down field and finished him on a long run play. The four-star had a handful of pancake blocks as well in a very impressive performance.
Sept. 1 came last week, and that opened up communication with prospects in Nichols' class, and he said Georgia was first to reach out to him. He has ties to Tennessee, and the Vols are viewed as the favorite early.
Brookwood is loaded with underclassmen. Morrissette and Lonergan were talked about above, but there is more. Another weapon for the Broncos is 2022 four-star wide receiver Sam Mbake. He had a solid game with over 100 yards receiving and showed a nice stiff-arm on a couple of occasions. On defense, Georgia commit Marquis Groves-Killebrew and Auburn commit Andre Stewart headline the group. Both made impacts in game one, especially Stewart late with a forced fumble on the first play of the fourth and final overtime. Groves-Killebrew had a pass break-up, a sack and a big punt return.
Kyle Efford is a 2022 two-way star for Dacula and he made plays on both sides of the ball. He is likely an inside linebacker in college, but had over 80 yards rushing and three touchdowns in this game. Georgia Tech is engaged with Efford early.
On Friday, I snuck down 75 to Crisp High in Cordele in between Corky Kell games to take in the Tift County at Crisp County match-up. The game was loaded with defensive talent, and most performed as a high level. Tyre West is an early five-star in the 2022 class and he racked up four sacks while wearing Georgia gloves in the season opener. Arkansas commit Christopher Paul Jr, Pittsburgh commit Preston Lavant and Georgia Tech commit Sirad Bryant all made big plays in the 7-0 Crisp County victory. Bryant played both ways, and he tallied half a dozen tackles and scored the only touchdown on a big pass play early. Paul had double-digit tackles.
Carrollton edge rusher Khristian Zachary did what he does best — rush the passer — against Collins Hill. He used his quickness off the edge to apply pressure numerous times in this game. He is planning to commit next month, and he is down to Alabama, Colorado, Florida State, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee.
Louisville commit TJ Quinn was part of an impressive Lowndes defense. In the fourth quarter, when Archer was driving to cut into the Viking lead, Quinn picked off a pass and closed things out for the win. He was involved in the run game defense a lot as well. The Cardinals are getting a big, physical safety that plays smart.
NC State commit Aaron McLaughlin did not play in the season open against Greater Atlanta Christian. The three-star quarterback at Denmark had off-season shoulder surgery, and he and the staff has decided to play it safe and hold McLaughlin out until region play begins in three weeks.