Simmons' Scoop: Four days in Alabama
Rivals.com Southeast recruiting analyst Chad Simmons spent four days in Alabama to take in the Yellowhammer State's opening weekend of high school football. He attended a couple of practices, watched three games and visited with a number of recruits while he was on the road.
Here are some takeaways from his trip.
AUBURN COMMIT IS BACK
After injuring his knee early last season, Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt Trussville running back Armoni Goodwin has gone through rehab, put in a lot of work in the weight room, he's gotten healthy, and he got off to a great start.
In the win Friday, the four-star rushed for 175 yards and scored three touchdowns. He still says he is not 100 percent yet, closer to 85 or 90 percent, but he was impressive from start to finish. He had numerous big runs in this contest, and the long-time Auburn commit shined.
OLE MISS LANDS A GOOD ONE
Birmingham (Ala.) Parker defensive end Demarcus Smith committed to Ole Miss last Friday, choosing the Rebels over Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. I got to see Smith in person for the first time and his size is legit. He is all of 6-feet, 4-inches tall, he is over 250 pounds, and this could be one of the top players on Lane Kiffin’s first full class at Ole Miss. He moves well, he will be a lineman that can move around up front, he has some athleticism to him and the Rebel fans should be excited about this one.
TIGHT RACE FOR ONE OF ALABAMA'S BEST
Birmingham (Ala.) Ramsay linebacker Jeremiah Williams was close to committing last month, likely to Florida, but other programs convinced him to hold off on making a decision. Now things have shifted more toward Auburn, an in-state program, as the favorite. This one is still extremely close.
And it is not just the Tigers and the Gators that is making this interesting. Georgia is in this more than many think. Williams has been not only talking a lot to Dan Lanning of Georgia, but Kirby Smart is now heavily involved too.
Yes, Auburn is the favorite now in our eyes with Florida right there, but do not count Georgia out. Oklahoma is the fourth school in Williams' final four, but with the Sooners being so far from home compared the other three SEC schools, it will be a very hard pull for Lincoln Riley.
YOUNG QUARTERBACKS TO KNOW
There will be more to emerge, but three I had the chance to see in some fashion last week will be names you will hear a lot more about.
Zach Pyron is a 2022 quarterback at Pinson Valley and will be a name you hear more and more as the season progresses. He transferred in after winning two state titles at Fyffe as a freshman and sophomore. This offense will allow him to develop as a passer. He threw three touchdown passes Friday night, but he also threw four interceptions. Pyron will get better as the season goes on and he has shown enough for me to rank him as a Power 5 prospect.
Ethan Crawford is a 2023 quarterback at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest, and he is very high on my board when talking signal callers in his class. He threw for over 200 yards in game one Friday night and accounted for five touchdowns. Kentucky, Maryland and Southern Miss have offered, but many others will — likely soon. When talking to his head coach, I asked him who else was showing interest in Crawford, Sam Adams said, “everyone.” Crawford is on track to be a national name due to his arm talent, but he also is a great athlete with the ability to run.
I have mentioned Kamari McClellan of Oxford (Ala.) numerous times already, and that should say a lot being that he is a 2024 prospect, and just started his freshman year a few days ago. Yes, it is early, extremely early, and he is not expected to make a big impact on the varsity team this season with Mississippi State baseball commit Trey Higgins leading the way, but when next spring rolls around, expect to hear a lot about this young man. He has a smooth release, the ball comes out of his hand hot and he could be the next big name at Oxford High.
STOCK UP FOR TENNESSEE COMMIT
Oxford (Ala.) playmaker Roc Taylor is a big wide receiver pushing 220 pounds at close to 6-feet 4-inches tall. He has long arms, he is physical and he could be a mis-match in SEC once he arrives in Knoxville.
Against Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson, the reigning 7A state champion, in game one Saturday night, he caught touchdowns passes of 51 and 17 yards. He has very strong, consistent hands, and his body and skill set could move him to that FLEX position on the next level, but regardless of what he plays, he is likely to contribute early at Tennessee.
STRONG GROUP OF YOUNG DEFENSIVE LINEMEN COMING
Khurtiss Perry of Montgomery (Ala.) Park Crossing is the No. 55-ranked prospect in the 2022 class and he is a player I will see play live soon. He is a beast with programs like Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Ohio State interested in adding him to their roster. He has already put himself in position to be a top 100 player in his class and all at his position in Alabama are being compared to him.
Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt Trussville has a couple of defensive ends to know. Justice Finkley is already known, and the four-star in the 2022 class had 16 tackles Friday night. He was very disruptive from the start, and his energy level was high all game. He is not the only one to know there though. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and others have already offered Finkley.
Hunter Osborne is a 2023 defensive end who could have a breakout season, and become a household name in the state by the end of the season. He has good size, he was good off the ball Friday night and he will have offers in the coming months, maybe sooner.
The 2023 class looks to be strong in Alabama at this position and headlining that list are James Smith of Montgomery (Ala.) Carver and Peter Woods of Alabaster (Ala.) Thompson. Woods is already considered a national name with over 30 offers, and Smith is likely on that same track. Both are athletic interior defensive linemen that are explosive. They have size and wreak havoc in the trenches. Both have multiple SEC offers and both are open at this stage.
KOOL-AID A TIGER?
Before the Pinson Valley vs. Hewitt Trussville game Friday night, there was a buzz on the field about Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry having an Auburn towel hanging out of the back of his pants and him wearing LSU gloves. Where was Alabama? Where was the Roll Tide gear?
Was Kool-Aid just trolling the fans, and wearing those items to throw people off? Some think so. But the more you talk to those around Pinson Valley, you hear Alabama is likely third on his list.
Auburn has been quietly trending this summer with LSU always being right there with the in-state schools. Did his outfit mean something? Was it sending a message? In some way, it likely was, but only Kool-Aid really knows what that was.
A timeline is still unknown for McKinstry, and the top prospect in the state of Alabama continues to say all three SEC schools are tied at the top of his list.
HOOKS STOOD OUT
Montgomery (Ala.) Pike Road has numerous players that will go on to play college football, a handful already have Power Five offers, but the player that stood out most in their win over Montgomery Catholic Thursday was athlete Iverson Hooks. He plays quarterback, and he does it quite well on the high school level, but at his size, with his athleticism, he will be listed as an athlete.
He made some video game-like plays in this contest. He finished with 296 passing yards, rushed for over 100 yards and he accounted for five touchdowns. He has great pocket awareness and feel for the game.
Hooks was a new name to me. He now has a profile on Rivals and he will be one we begin to track in the 2022 class.
BIG DECISION THIS WEEKEND
Birmingham (Ala.) Ramsay defensive tackle Tim Keenan is set to announce his commitment Saturday. The five finalists are Alabama, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU and UAB. The Blazers offered first, it is the local program, and many top prospects list them as favorites out of respect, but we do not expect Keenan to choose UAB.
Who will land this four-star? He said last week the schools he talks to most have been the ones located in Tuscaloosa, Athens and Atlanta. Does that mean the one in Baton Rouge has been eliminated? He has not said that officially.
But, it seems like this one is coming down to the Crimson Tide (a school he has visited more times than he can count), the Yellow Jackets and the Bulldogs. Keenan is very familiar with each of these programs and has been in regular contact with coaches on each staff through the quarantine.
The chatter behind the scenes has been more about Alabama and Georgia, so a lot of eyes will be on Keenan in the coming days. The talk was all Alabama very early in his recruitment, the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets have made this interesting, so now we will see if Kirby Smart or Geoff Collins has done enough to pull Keenan from his home state.
NEW OFFENSIVE LINEMAN TO KNOW
Hewitt-Trussville has a lot of prospects Rivals covers on a daily basis, and there will be new ones that emerge this season. One has already done that, and it is 2024 offensive lineman Kade Martin.
He is a 6-5, 285 pound freshman with a great frame, good feet and a prospect we will be talking about (a lot) in the years to come. Martin started game one at center. That is likely not his position long term, but that is where he helps the team the most now.
Martin is very advanced for a freshman offensive lineman, and the questions about him now are; who will be first to offer and when will that first offer come? I promise, it will come much sooner than later.
ALABAMA EDGE WILL ADD BIG OFFERS
I saw his film for the first time a few weeks ago, and immediately requested a mid three-star ranking. I have been trying to put eyes on him the last two weeks, and it just didn’t work out — until Friday. Lamondre Brooks is a defensive end/hybrid at Huffman High in Birmingham and he is all of 6-feet 2-inches tall, 258 pounds and he can run.
At the time I saw him, he had offers from Illinois, South Alabama, Tennessee and UAB. He should have quadruple those offers — at least.
Huffman struggled last season, then there was no camps or evaluation period this spring, and Brooks has completely flown under the radar. That is going to change.