To the categories:
Top prospectTo be sure, it was the 6-4, 205-pound Jameis Winston, though he only managed to lead his team to one end zone trip, his 26-yard pass to Keith Johnson II that put the home-standing Golden Gophers up 7-0 at the time. Winston has become, at least in the playoffs, a jack-of-all trades, and that was evident Friday in his final high school football game.
"We're going to use him any way we need to," said Hueytown coach Matt Scott, "whether it's returning punts, playing cornerback. People ask me, ‘What if he gets hurt?' and I say, ‘What if we get beat, with our best player standing on the sideline?' At this point, you've got to do whatever you have to do to win games."
Though he did not return punts Friday, Winston did play some defense at corner, continued his fine season as a punter, downing one 47-yarder at the seven-yard line. He could conceivably be a backup quarterback his true freshman year, but start at punter. He led his team to a 13-1 season.
"He's just a great athlete who can also beat you with his arm," said Vigor coach Kerry Stevenson. "They had another quarterback in the SEC like that, who won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy, (Auburn's) Cam Newton."
That's lofty praise, but Winston backs it up. On this night, Vigor was able to limit Winston to 157 yards on 13-24 passing and just 12 net rushing yards, due partly to five sacks and partly to a massive breakdown on numerous shotgun snaps over Winston's head.
Winston, who threw for 28 scores and ran for 15 more this season, is committed to Florida State, but those who know him best give Alabama a "way better than 50-percent chance to flip him," according to one such person. He may never change his public pledge, but let's see which fax machine whirs on Signing Day. It may be in a city with an Indian name starting with a "T," but it may not be Tallahassee.
Seniors who shinedArkansas may have been spanked by LSU on national TV Friday, but they have plucked a good prospect out of Prichard, Ala. He is 6-5, 225-pound defensive end JaMichael (distant cousin of Jameis) Winston. Winston got to Winston more than once, and had several other tackles for loss on other Hueytown ball-carriers.
His Vigor teammate, 6-1, 275-pound Darius Philon played with a lot of heart, refusing to shut his season down despite a torn meniscus requiring a big knee brace. The Alabama commitment had a half-sack and helped shut down the Gophers' running game.
"He's going to go until he can't. He wouldn't have it any other way," said Stevenson. "He's just dynamic."
"Size, speed, and he plays (well) with his hands," Scott said of Philon. "He's as good a defensive lineman as I've seen in a long time."
I tried to get Philon's Iron Bowl score pick, but the closest I could come was, "We (Alabama) are going to score 40-something, and I'll give them (Auburn) seven."
Sounds right, Darius, but I've got 31-7, my favorite Iron Bowl score ever (1971, 2001). Also, Philon told Laura McKeeman he is helping Bama recruit Jameis Winston.
Another guy that must be mentioned is Vigor senior receiver Marlon Moore, who is listed at 5-9, 170, but plays much bigger. Moore riddled the Hueytown secondary with catches all night, including a 20-yard touchdown catch-and-run which he followed up by taking an option pitch and tossing a pass for a two-point conversion. He added another scoring catch later. The play that broke the Gophers' back came later in the fourth quarter when Moore pulled a George Teague and stripped the ball from an unsuspecting Johnson on a punt return.
Shockingly, a Vigor assistant said Moore has no written offers. If Joey Jones or anyone from South Alabama is reading this, you may want to call Coach Stevenson.
Another senior who played well was Kentucky pledge/cornerback Jacoby Glenn (6-0, 175), who will bring the wood.