I always feel the need to write a disclaimer before discussing recruiting. Coming from someone who sees more high school football in Mississippi than anyone, I can vouch for how difficult a job it is for coaches to evaluate and separate players. At some point, the top players all look very similar. I would be crossing fingers and praying with every offer handed out.
But one kid I think coaches should give a second look is Grenada’s Genard Avery, who I think is this year’s most underrated prospect. I had him as the state’s 23rd-best player in the preseason, primarily due to his lack of recruiting attention. I give the recruiting services and coaches a lot of consideration when putting together recruiting lists, they put in countless hours in evaluating prospects and it makes you nervous to go against their position on a player. If I had gone more with the comments I heard from high school coaches, I would have had him significantly higher.
Consider this comparison, which is far from scientific but I think is interesting.
Ole Miss has a commitment from Garrald McDowell, a 4-star defensive end prospect out of Covington, LA who 247Sports has rated the nation’s #202 player overall and #12 strong-side defensive end. I agree with recruiting services that he looks like a great prospect, and he has earned his recruiting position. At the Nike Football Training Camp held in Memphis last summer, McDowell checked in 6’1 and 254 pounds, and ran a 5.06 40 with a 4.69 shuttle. Here is his camp evaluation.
DL: Garrald McDowell, 6–1, 254, Covington (La.)
Results: 5.06 40, 4.69 SH
Breakdown: McDowell was the talk of the talented DL group. While most defensive linemen are just trying to string together pass rush moves, McDowell is already at the stage where he’s setting up offensive linemen. He went unbeaten in one-on-ones, working both outside at defensive end and inside at a 3-technique, and is an interesting prospect to project to the next level. He’s got the frame to bulk up and play inside as a defensive tackle but also has enough quickness to play as a standup linebacker at the line of scrimmage. After his standout performance, McDowell received an invite to The Opening.
Now Genard Avery. At the same camp, he checked in at 6′ 1/2” and 242 pounds. He ran a 4.73 40 with a 4.53 shuttle run. He also posted impressive numbers in the other combine tests. Only twelve pounds lighter than McDowell and a half-inch shorter, Avery was more than 3/10’s faster in the 40 and much quicker in the shuttle. I also saw him in person run a 4.69 handheld 40 over the summer at Steve Robertson’s combine held in Tupelo. Here is his Nike camp evaluation.
LB: Genard Avery, 6-0 ½, 242, Grenada (Miss.)
Results: 4.73 40, 4.53 SH, 36.0’ PB, 32.1” VJ, 94.71 SPARQ
Breakdown: A man-child physically, reminds NFTC coaches of the physical maturity of FSU signee Jeff Luc from a few years back. His hands when engaging TEs and redirecting routes is freakish – he launches people. Closing speed when he finds the ball was scary to watch too – can only imagine what he does with the pads on. Healthy mean streak to him, the big guys up front will respect that about him. With better body control, he could be at that top tier. Had 111 tackles and six sacks as a junior to earn 6A all-state honors.
Based on those numbers, you would think both players would have gotten a lot of recruiting attention, especially considering Avery was coming off an all-state junior season. But he flew under the radar in recruiting circles and didn’t garner a lot of attention (outside of a Louisiana-Lafayette offer) until coaches moved him to defensive end in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game, where he had a great week of practice and showed out in the game.
Just saying I’d give this kid a hard look before signing day. Sometimes, recruiting makes you scratch your head.