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Memphis Area Players being Recruited - 2019

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Briarcrest 2020 standout Jabari Small picks up Volunteer offer

John Varlas, Memphis Commercial AppealPublished 9:30 p.m. CT June 25, 2018
Briarcrest vs. Hernando

(Photo: Brad Vest/The Commercial Appeal)


This summer promises to be a busy one for Briarcrest class of 2020 football standout Jabari Small.

Small, a 5-10, 170-pound athlete, picked up an offer from Tennessee on Monday night to add to his constantly-growing list. Arkansas, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Southern Miss and UAB are among the others who have offered.

He heads into the season as the state's No. 15 junior prospect according to 24/7 Sports.

Small was a standout on both sides of the ball for the Saints in 2017, helping the team to a 9-2 record. He caught 22 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns while leading the area in average yards per punt return (28.2, one touchdown).

Expect Small's offensive numbers to shoot way up in 2018; the Saints boast the top returning passer in quarterback Jackson Walker (2,526 yards) and will be replacing their top two receivers.


Reach John Varlas at [email protected] or on Twitter @johnvarlas.

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Whitehaven star Keveon Mullins, a one-time Memphis pledge, commits to SEC's South Carolina


John Varlas, Memphis Commercial AppealPublished 3:23 p.m. CT June 28, 2018 | Updated 3:49 p.m. CT June 28, 2018
East vs. CBHS

(Photo: Brad Vest/The Commercial Appeal)


As one of the state's top receivers, Keveon Mullins is used to reversing his field. He did it once again on Thursday.

Mullins, the class of 2019 standout at Whitehaven, announced on Twitter that he had verbally committed to play his college football at South Carolina. The 6-2, 200-pounder had committed to Memphis in April before deciding to re-open his recruitment.


View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Mullins — who will play at Whitehaven after transferring from East — is the top returning receiver in the Shelby-Metro area. As a junior, he caught 52 passes for 1,011 yards and scored eight touchdowns while averaging 91.9 yards per game. He enters the season as the state's 12th-ranked prospect, according to 247 Sports' composite rankings.

Only No. 10 T.J. Sheffield of Independence and 11th-ranked Jayden Harrison of Nashville Pearl-Cohn are ranked higher than him at receiver.

He joins Whitehaven teammate Devin Boddie Jr. as Tigers who have committed to SEC schools. Boddie, a transfer from Lausanne, announced for Vanderbilt on Wednesday.


Reach John Varlas at [email protected] or on Twitter @johnvarlas.

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Lausanne running back Eric Gray commits to Michigan football

John Varlas, Memphis Commercial AppealPublished 8:21 p.m. CT July 1, 2018 | Updated 5:41 p.m. CT July 2, 2018

(Photo: Caitie McMekin / News Sentinel)

Lausanne running back Eric Gray is headed to the Big Ten.

The Class of 2019 standout announced on Twitter on Sunday evening that he will play his collegiate football at Michigan. Commitments are non-binding but Gray can make it official either during the early signing period that begins on Dec. 19 or on national signing day Feb. 6. 

Attempts to reach Gray for comment were unsuccessful.

The 5-foot-10, 191-pounder lead Lausanne two its second consecutive state championship last season, rushing for 3,151 yards and scoring a Shelby-Metro record 45 touchdowns. He was named Gatorade Tennessee player of the year while winning Mr. Football and Commercial Appeal offensive player of the year honors for the second straight time.

Gray is currently the No. 10 prospect in the state, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He had a host of offers, including from Alabama, Penn State, Arkansas and Ole Miss. 

He is the third highly regarded Memphis prospect to make his college choice known in the past week, joining Whitehaven athlete Devin Boddie Jr. (Vanderbilt) and receiver Keveon Mullins (South Carolina).


Reach John Varlas at [email protected] or on Twitter @johnvarlas.

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Michigan football getting 'thunder and lightning' with running backs

Orion Sang, Detroit Free PressPublished 11:00 p.m. CT July 7, 2018




It's no secret head coach Jim Harbaugh likes his teams to run the football.

From his time at Stanford, Harbaugh has been known for his gap-based run schemes. That has been the case at Michigan, too, for the most part.

One difference? Harbaugh hasn’t had a lead back like former Stanford running back Toby Gerhart. The Wolverines have yet to have a 1,000-yard rusher under Harbaugh, who has been more than happy to spread carries around.

Last season, Karan Higdon and Chris Evans combined for 299 carries for 1,679 yards and 17 touchdowns. Both return this year — Higdon is a senior and Evans a junior.

Michigan, though, appears poised to reload once Higdon and Evans are gone. They’ve signed four running backs in the past two recruiting classes, and now have a pair of commitments from highly touted 2019 4-star prospects Zach Charbonnet and Eric Gray.

Charbonnet, at 6-feet-2, 215 pounds, might seem like a prototypical big back. At 5-10, 191, Gray is classified by recruiting services as an all-purpose back.

Both, though, boast skill sets atypical for their respective sizes.

"You know, people overuse the ‘Thunder-Lightning’ term," 247Sports recruiting analyst Steve Lorenz said, "but I really think Charbonnet and Gray would be as close to a ‘Thunder and Lightning’ combo as you’re going to get as far as two high school running back verbal commitments."

Breaking down Charbonnet

Oaks Christian’s Zach Charbonnet break through Valencia’s

Oaks Christian’s Zach Charbonnet break through Valencia’s defensive line to score the Lions' first touchdown in the first quarter of their CIF-SS Division 2 title game at Valencia High. Oaks Christian won, 20-19. (Photo: JOE LUMAYA/SPECIAL TO THE STAR)

Charles Collins, Charbonnet’s head coach at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, Calif., had two comparisons for his star running back’s style of play.

“When you look at running backs that have come out recently, and also really in terms of character as well, I would liken (Charbonnet) to Saquon Barkley,” Collins said. “Might be just as big, that can run, also has wiggle and more importantly, you’re talking about a team guy and high-character guy. That’s Zach Charbonnet in a nutshell.

“He also reminds me of Le’Veon Bell in terms of the patience he has,” Collins continued. “We run a lot of zone scheme, that’s why he’s so good at it. He plays with a really, really good eye, he reads pads well, he understands leverage. They’re getting the total football player.”

Those are lofty comparisons. Based on probability alone, it’s unlikely Charbonnet will replicate Barkley or Bell’s college production at Penn State and Michigan State, respectively. But one trait Charbonnet shares with both is his potential in the passing game.

According to Collins, when his team participates in agility drills, Charbonnet — who has “always had good feet” — works with the receivers. He has even played some defensive back when Oaks Christian needed help in the secondary. As a junior, he caught 27 passes for 169 yards — nothing extraordinary, but enough to show that Oaks Christian wanted to involve him in the passing game.


Then there’s Charbonnet’s ability to run the ball. As a junior, he took 265 carries for 2,049 yards (7.7 YPC) and 23 touchdowns, according to unapproved website. His film shows a running back with size who cuts well, displays good vision and has decent acceleration and long speed.

“I think the best thing he’s doing now is, outside of just being a heck of an athlete, now he understands how to read fronts,” Collins said. “The game has slowed down for him. He’s not just playing with his athleticism or his talent.

“I would say he’s playing with better eyes and a higher-level IQ, which is where he’s really advanced. … That’s the biggest growth in Zach, is what he’s learned in terms of scheme and run-game scheme. He’s much more astute there.”

Breaking down Gray

Lausanne's Eric Gray (1) runs in a touchdown against

Lausanne's Eric Gray (1) runs in a touchdown against Notre Dame during the second half of the Division II-AA state championship game at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, Tenn., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. (Photo: Caitie McMekin / News Sentinel)


Lausanne head coach Kevin Locastro has an anecdote that perfectly describes Gray, Tennesee’s reigning two-time Mr. Football award winner in his classification.

When Gray was younger, Locastro put his team through a drill where the running back had to put a move on a linebacker stepping up in the hole. It was something Gray excelled at.

“(Gray) put a move on him in real small space and kind of buckled the kid’s knees and melted him to the ground a little bit,” Locastro recalled. “Just some flashes of that early on in his high school career that made you think, ‘Wow, you don’t coach too many kids that can do that.’ ”

Look at Gray’s film, and you’ll see a lot of the same thing. He can make anyone miss, and often does so multiple times on the same play.

According to Locastro, Lausanne’s scheme boils down to something simple: get the ball in Eric Gray’s hands.

Lausanne doesn’t just hand it off to him, either. They’ll also use him as a weapon in the passing game, on angle routes, seam routes and wheel routes. Over the past two seasons, he has a combined 21 receptions for 487 yards and seven touchdowns, to go with a combined 553 carries for 5,366 yards and 83 rushing touchdowns.

“He would be our best receiver if he played receiver, as he’s got incredible hands, he runs really good routes,” Locastro said. “... He has a really nice skill set. He’s able to do a lot of things. He’s a pretty darn good pass protector and good blocker, he’s not scared to stick his nose in there and do those types of things either. I think he’s just overall a great all-around back.”

According to his father, Eric Gray Sr., Michigan has a specific role for his son in mind.

“Pretty much what everybody’s been telling him — from the running back slot, then motioning him out of the backfield to the slot, and then also maybe starting in the slot and motioning back to the backfield,” Gray Sr. said. “Because Eric is skilled at making people miss. Understanding what defenses are, understanding fronts and then taking advantage of who’s the free hitter. … His strength is catching the ball in and out of the backfield. So he’s very versatile.”

Gray’s size suggests a future as a back who can provide a change of pace. But Locastro believes otherwise. He thinks Gray can be an every-down back — and that he’ll be comfortable running between the tackles.

“Even though we’re spread and we do (run-pass option) a lot … we’re still running power, we’re still running the counter, we’re still getting the ball downhill to him even though it’s from the shotgun situation and not from underneath center,” Locastro said. “But he’s very good between tackles. … I wouldn’t let anybody say that they’re concerned about him having the ability to run between the tackles because of his size, because he’s very good at that too.”

Added Lorenz: “He’s very explosive. Again, a guy I think is much closer to where we have him ranked than where the composite has him. I think he’s one of the better backs in the country. Alabama wanted him. Penn State wants him. Two programs, they know what a good running back looks like. Would be a perfect complement to Charbonnet.”

Gray might not look like an every-down back. But size hasn’t deterred Higdon ( 5-10, 189) or Evans (5-11, 200).

Gray is capable of taking on a similar workload, and he’s already a weapon who can be used in multiple ways. And Charbonnet has the size of a workhorse running back and also possesses skills that could make him a threat in the passing game.

And the two could become Michigan's next one-two running back punch. 


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Edited by kwc

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Michigan and Vanderbilt pick up In-State Commitments

Posted by Donovan Stewart
Date: July 01, 2018
Michigan and Vanderbilt pick up In-State Commitments

The following 27 players have committed in the Class of 2019: 

Lausanne running back Eric Gray (Michigan), Pearl Cohn wide receiver Jayden Harrison (Vanderbilt), Science Hill offensive tackle Blake Austin (Coastal Carolina), FRA athlete Lance Wilhoite (Oregon), Cordova offensive lineman Matthew Bedford (Indiana), BGA linebacker Chico Bennett (Georgia Tech), Whitehaven athlete Devin Boddie (Vanderbilt), Red Bank athlete Calvin Jackson (Wofford), Whitehaven athlete Keveon Mullins (South Carolina), Fulton linebacker Robquan Thomas (Austin Peay), Davidson Academy quarterback Stone Norton (Florida International), Christian Brothers defensive end Christian James (Vanderbilt), Germantown tight end Conner Richardson (Tulane), Dyersburg linebacker Chris Russell (Memphis), Karns athlete Thomas Harper (Oklahoma State), MBA linebacker Jackson Hannah (Nebraska), Siegel defensive end Joseph Anderson (South Carolina), Davidson Academy running back Da’Joun Hewitt (Purdue), Davidson Academy defensive end Ani Izuchukwu (Mississippi State), Greeneville wide receiver Dorien Goddard (Virginia), Memphis Central defensive tackle Trevis Hopper (Memphis), Greeneville tight end Cameron Hite (Wake Forest), Christian Brothers defensive end Bill Norton (Georgia), MUS defensive back Maurice Hampton (LSU), MBA offensive lineman Jackson Lampley (Tennessee), Kirby quarterback Jaden Johnson (Louisville), and Friendship Christian defensive tackle Luke Smith (Appalachian State).


Contact Donovan at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at Examine_Stew


Article/Coacht Post Legend:

Bold Black = Player from the Memphis area that is already accounted for in this thread

Bold Red =  Player from the Memphis area that is newly added player to this this thread

Edited by kwc

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On 5/14/2018 at 1:25 PM, kwc said:

Memphis eighth-grade QB Tevin Carter has offers from Tennessee Vols, South Carolina, Tigers


John Varlas, USA TODAY NETWORK – TennesseePublished 10:00 a.m. CT May 3, 2018 | Updated 6:00 a.m. CT May 11, 2018



(Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)


  • Eighth-grader boasts three FBS offers
  • Size, work ethic make him a coveted prospect
  • Getting the big head? Not Carter.

Unless you're a die-hard Memphis high school football fan, you probably aren't familiar with the name Tevin Carter.

You're probably not familiar with his school either. Freedom Prep, a South Memphis-based charter school only began playing varsity football in 2017.

But South Carolina knows all about Carter. As do Tennessee and Vanderbilt. And Memphis.

All four schools have offered Carter, the War Eagles' eighth-grade quarterback. Yes, eighth-grade. Without even technically being a high school student Carter already has considerable interest from three SEC schools and the hometown program that is on its best run in history.

Tevin Carter, a rising freshman quarterback, receives college offers. "He's a guy with unlimited potential," said Thomas Morris, who operates the local arm of QB Country, which offers instruction to quarterbacks from fifth grade up.

"And he's also a grinder. Obviously God blessed him with amazing raw talent, height and size. But he's also a guy that will call me every day, text me, 'Hey what do you think about this?'

"He works at it. A lot of people say they want to be the best but Tevin works at it. And he just gets better and better every workout."

Carter is 6-3 and a solid 200 pounds with a live arm and a maturity that belies his age.

"At first, I wasn't really getting any attention," he said. "But I just kept working at it and it started picking up. (The offers) aren't scary or anything. And my popularity is going up so I'm kind of getting used to it."


April 27, 2018 - Tevin Carter, 15, a rising freshman

April 27, 2018 - Tevin Carter, 15, a rising freshman quarterback with Pure Youth, an organization that focuses on football, education, and character, plays in a scrimmage against Melrose High School at Melrose Stadium on Friday. At his young age, he's fielding offers from three major colleges. (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)

Competing in Tennessee's smallest classification, Freedom Prep had a terrific debut last fall, finishing 5-6 and advancing to the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. And Carter's contributions extended far beyond his 74.3 passing yards per game and six touchdowns.

"I'm not the fastest guy you'll probably meet," said Carter, laughing. "But I think quarterback is the best position for me. I love my role on the field, being a leader, working hard, pushing my teammates."

Carter — who is home schooled — ended up at Freedom Prep through Cole, who was aware of the school's start-up football program because his daughter was enrolled there. Since Freedom Prep is a K-12 school, he was allowed to play as an eighth-grader per TSSAA rules, similar to Will Lawrence, who started on Harding's offensive line for five years and will play at Memphis starting this fall.

Despite his year on the varsity, Carter still has plenty of room to grow. He only took up quarterback a couple of years ago after trying different positions without much success.

"He's always been a good athlete," said Melvin Cole, the founder and executive director of Pure Youth, an organization that provides year-round education, mentoring and football for Carter and several players.

"We tried him at tight end, wide receiver, linebacker. Then he came to me and was like, 'I want to try quarterback.' And I said 'Hey, I'm gonna hold you to it.'


April 27, 2018 - Coach Abraham Austin, left, with Freedom

April 27, 2018 - Coach Abraham Austin, left, with Freedom Prep Academy, and Chris Morris, a left tackle for Freedom Prep Academy, listen to Tevin Carter, 15, as he speaks from the sideline during a scrimmage against Melrose High School at Melrose Stadium on Friday. Carter, a rising freshman quarterback with Pure Youth, an organization that focuses on football, education, and character, is fielding offers from three major colleges. (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)


"He works hard. We're in the weight room every day, film study, position drills in the front yard ... I told him before his seventh-grade year, 'Your time is coming.' In our minds, he's getting (the attention) we expected but at the same time he knows how much more work he has to put in.

"He knows he's not finished."

Carter too has benefited from watching the recruitment of his teammate Chris Morris (no relation to Thomas), a class of 2020 offensive line prospect with offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Georgia among several others.

"He tells me not to get nervous," Carter said. "He helps keep it in (perspective)."

Cole said Carter was able to "piggyback" on the interest in Morris while the three went on recruiting visits, which is how South Carolina first made contact. Tennessee and Vandy became interested and offered after seeing Carter's tape. 

Offers to eighth-grade quarterbacks are rare but not unheard of. In fact, another Tennessee prospect, Jackson-area quarterback Ty Simpson, picked up an offer from Michigan in March. 


April 27, 2018 - Tevin Carter, 15, a rising freshman

April 27, 2018 - Tevin Carter, 15, a rising freshman quarterback with Pure Youth, an organization that focuses on football, education, and character, plays in a scrimmage against Melrose High School at Melrose Stadium on Friday. At his young age, he's fielding offers from three major colleges. (Photo: Yalonda M. James/The Commercial Appeal)

Nevertheless, it's pretty heady stuff. And thankfully, Carter already has a support system in place that will help keep his feet on the ground.

"They (teammates) were calling me 'Tom Brady,'" said Carter. "So I was like, 'They can't get me. I'm the star of the team.' And he (Cole) took my starting job. I had to miss a game."

Says Cole, "I sat him down. When I saw his head getting big, I said, 'No, we're not going to do this.' He still got four years of high school and four years of college ... we're going to nip this in the bud."

Another thing Carter wants to nip in the bud is the continuing scrutiny accompanying black quarterbacks such as Lamar Jackson, who put up terrific numbers in college but still faced plenty of questions about his ability prior to the NFL draft.

"It's very important to be seen as a complete quarterback," said Carter. "I want to be like Tom Brady (mentally) and Cam (Newton physically)."


Reach John Varlas at [email protected] or on Twitter @johnvarlas





Edited by kwc

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