Learning the game
South Forsyth High wide receiver Jalen Camp has only played since his sophomore year.
“He just got better and better,” South Forsyth coach Jeff Arnette said. “This year, he just completely blew up.”
South Forsyth also played Camp at safety and kick returner this season besides wide receiver. He played outside linebacker last season. In that time, Camp grew two inches and continued to increase his strength. Arnette said that Camp can bench press about 330 pounds and blocks well on the perimeter. He has the tools, it would appear, that Tech looks for in a receiver – size, strength, explosiveness.
“He’s a special player,” Arnette said, “and I don’t think he’s even scratched the surface of what he can do.”
‘Ready to commit’
Camp was primarily recruited by quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook, who kept tabs on him through the season before making the offer this week. Coach Paul Johnson came up to the school last week and made a home visit with Camp and his family.
“I know (Johnson) was extremely impressed with him,” Arnette said. “Once he got in the mode of wanting him, it happened pretty quick.”
During this time, Arnette said, interest was picking up in Camp, who had been committed to Liberty. Indiana and Wake Forest were among teams that were trying to set up visits with Camp.
“He’s a quiet, humble guy,” Arnette said. “He was ready to commit and be done with it.”
Besides football, Sonoraville High offensive line prospect Kenny Cooper has wrestled and also was on the track team as a sophomore. I asked him what else he liked to do other than sports.
Said Cooper, “I like working out.”
He also likes to do agility work, he said.
‘Phenomenal’ senior season
Cooper said he had not heard much from Tech coaches after last summer, but heard from recruiting coordinator Andy McCollum after the season ended.
“He called me and said they needed athletic linemen that can get downfield,” Cooper said.
Sonoraville coach Jon Kremer believed his senior season helped raise his stock.
Cooper “just had a phenomenal year. Going into the playoffs always helps,” Kremer said.
A Bulldog fan no longer
Cooper attended the Georgia game, where he met McCollum and offensive line coach Mike Sewak.
“I grew up as a Georgia fan, but when it came down to recruiting, it’s just wherever I felt more comfortable,” he said.
Defensive end commit Desmond Branch from Trinity Valley Community College mostly played defensive end, but was also used as a “3 technique” defensive tackle, Trinity Valley defensive line coach Darius Hart said.
Hart said he was undersized for the interior (6-foot-3, 270 pounds) but used his quickness to create pass-rush pressure.
“Most times, they couldn’t touch him,” Hart said. “He’s a pretty good pass rusher.”
Room to grow
Hart said that Branch could add 15 pounds and could move from end to tackle.
“He’ll be a load with quickness,” Hart said. “I think that’s going to ultimately be where he makes his money at.”
At his size, he is likely a strongside defensive end, where Roderick Rook-Chungong played this past season. Hart saw him at least making an immediate impact as a third-down specialist. Obviously, finding players who can create pressure in passing situations is a critical need for the Jackets.
Path to FBS
In recent years, Trinity Valley has sent players to Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and TCU, among other schools. While Branch carries the JUCO tag, Hart believes he’ll be fine.
“Desmond always went to class,” Hart said. “He’s a pretty mature kid, one of those guys you don’t have to worry about much, goes to class, does his work.”