Tag:Gabe Marks
Posted on: July 3, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 10:21 am
 

Badger Sports 7-on-7 Nationals Day 2 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

DALLAS – Right before the championship game, Keyshawn Johnson was hoping this would be his team's moment.

Since starting the 1925 All-Star 7-on-7 team with former NFL veteran Brian Kelly a little over two years ago, his team fell short of the national title last year and had yet to break through and win even a regional title this year.

Sunday afternoon was indeed Johnson's moment however as 1925 got over the hump and finally hoisted a trophy, winning the Badger Sports/New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championship at SMU's Gerald Ford Stadium.

“Being in it two years and winning a championship (is great),” said Johnson, a former USC wide receiver, before joking, “I told one of the kids who is going to Notre Dame, I told him if you go to Notre Dame you won't be winning one of these.”

“We were going to championships and we were losing,” said running back Mike Davison. “But nationals were the one we wanted and that's what we need to win. That's the one that matters and I'm glad we won because we're national champs and we've got the bragging rights.”

1925 lost three players due to injury before the tournament but still managed to run through the championship bracket undefeated using plenty of FBS-bound athletes. One of the keys to the team though was actually the smallest player on the field, the 5-foot-3 Davison, and one of the few who didn't hold a major scholarship offer.

“It was a great experience, it was fun. We were working hard at it and I knew we were going to get it done,” he said. “It's very important to me too. I'm trying to get more offers, more exposure. I'm glad I was a big factor in this so now colleges can say this guy can do it. Hopefully I can go D-1.”

Davison holds an offer from Alabama State with several other schools on the verge of offering the speedy scatback. Able to cut a full speed and stop a dime, he was easily the most elusive player on the roughly 115-degree turf the past two days.

Known by his nickname of “Mike-Mike,” Davison was often imitated but no one could come close to the real thing. After a player on the team from Louisiana made a few quick cuts against the 1925 defense, Notre Dame commit and 1925 athlete Deontay Greenberry yelled out, “You're not Mike-Mike!”

After battling the eventual runner up, Team Houston, to a tie at the end of the first of their two games, 1925 failed to complete a play in the sudden-death, longest-yard overtime. As a result, all Team Houston had to do was get a yard on a running play to win the game but it ended up being Davison who saved the day for 1925.

“They were like, 'Mike get on the field' because the other team just needed one play to win the game,” he said. “I ran on to the field and they said 'hike' and I just sprinted into the back field and tackled him. Then we won the game when I got the draw and got a couple of yards.”

Croom down to two

Although his team got knocked out early, Norcross (Ga.) wide receiver Jason Croom put together an impressive two days worth of catches. Using his big 6-foot-5 frame, he was a weapon in the end zone and also made some tough catches in traffic to solidify himself as one of the best options on the Goon Squad.

Scheduled to make a decision later next month, Croom has narrowed down his recruiting list to just two schools as he wraps up a very productive run on the spring and summer camp circuit.

“It's between Mississippi State and Tennessee,” he said.

Croom has already made it down to Knoxville for an unofficial visit and had plenty of good things to say about the Volunteers.

“I really like everything,” said Croom. “I like the coaching staff. When I went down there, I liked the facilities a lot and the academics. That's the most important part, they have a good APR rating and they push you on and off the field. They told me I can make a big impact and all I'll have to do is go down there and show what I can do.”

While Croom wouldn't leave any hints about which school he was leaning towards, it's clear he has a special connection with Mississippi State and that could be a major factor in to his decision.

“I've had a good relationship with them for the longest time because they were my second offer,” he said. “I've been talking to them throughout this whole thing so I've got a good relationship with basically the whole coaching staff. When I went down there I met some of the players and they were real cool, they treat you like family and joke around and stuff. But when I went down there they were also working real hard in the weight room and stuff and I know they help their players academically. They make sure they finish their classwork before they do anything else.”

Croom will commit on August 18th, which is right before his senior season gets underway. He's narrowed his choices down to two and will only take an official visit to whichever program he ends up verbally committing to next month.

Miami, they were in my top three but they're out of it now.” he said. “I'll just take one (official) because I've already got my decision made.”

Marks enjoys his time in Texas

In addition to 1925 capturing the championship, the other California All-Star team, B2G, was very impressive over the two day event. Los Angeles (Calif.) wide receiver Gabe Marks impressed with his route running ability, hands and was savvy enough to know where holes were in the defense. Despite being a fairly polished receiver, he came out to help his team win and improve between the lines.

“I really want to work on my routes and my releases,” Marks said. “I'm just trying to win some games and go against some of the top competition.”

Working alongside Ventura (Calif.) quarterback Marc Evans and teaming up with Upland (Calif.) receiver Kenny Lawler, B2G had quite a day on offense before running out of gas late. For the most part though, the group was clicking in large part because they had been playing with one another throughout the summer.

“We work out with each other all the time and we do all of the events together,” Marks said. “We definitely have a good chemistry. We like sticking with one quarterback so we don't have to worry about that transition if a new guy plays with us.”

Holding offers from several Pac-12, Mountain West and Conference USA programs, Marks is beginning to focus on just a handful of programs to allow time for him to compete during his senior season in high school.

“I'm starting to narrow down my list of schools, I've got SMU, Utah and UCLA as my top three.” he said. “Then I have Colorado and Boston College to finish out my top five.”

The trip to Dallas has allowed him a chance to get an in-depth look at what it would be like if he committed to SMU. Outside of adjusting to the extremely hot weather – especially for someone who lives just a few miles from the beach – the experience was a good one overall.

“SMU is a great school, they're definitely one of the nicer schools I've seen,” said Marks. “The one thing would be the weather, that'd take some getting used to. But I love the coaches, they're great and it's a great system that would be a good fit for me.”

One of the big drawing points for the private school on the field is head coach June Jones' Run and Shoot offense, which has allowed receivers similar to Marks put up big numbers. Off the field, there's a lot of positives as well.

“Their academics are top notch,” he said. “You can have a good career after football and that's what I'm using football for. If I don't make it to the league, I want something to fall back on.”

If Marks is looking to stay closer to home, UCLA offers that option and the Bruins have plenty going for them as they try to land the 6-foot, 170-pounder.

“Their academics and the fact they're so close to home,” Marks said when asked what he liked about the school. “You grow up watching the coaches and the team so they're the hometown school.”

Marks will likely make a decision in December after taking official visits. At the moment, he has already planned three visits, to Utah, SMU and UCLA, during the season.

Liggins looking to stay in the SEC

One of the biggest – if not the biggest – players on the field was actually Oxford (Miss.) quarterback Jeremy Liggins. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound signal caller was sharp for most of day two of the tournament and made several nice throws into tight windows.

“I felt like we did pretty good,” Liggins said. “Keyshawn Johnson's team though, he brought in some ballers. We just kind of threw a team together and we didn't have a practice or anything. I felt like if we practiced, we could come out and compete with these boys.”

Playing for the Louisiana team, Liggins led an overachieving squad that made a very nice, deep run in the double-elimination event. Developing some timing with his newfound receivers was key to moving the ball on Sunday after a bit of a slow start the day before.

“It's pretty hard because I'm not used to how these guys run,” he said. “But after the first game yesterday, we kinda started to connect and I felt pretty comfortable with those guys (today) because I know that once I put the ball out there, they're going to go make plays on the ball.”

Liggins holds several scholarship offers already and figures to pick up more once the season begins. If there's one thing he's locked into with the recruiting process, it's a certain brand of southern football.

“I've got a lot of offers but I'm really just looking at the SEC,” he said. “I've got ones from Florida, South Carolina and others.”

With his size and speed, Liggins knows that plenty of coaches are looking to move him to other positions. He could wind up as a defensive lineman in college at first glance but he's also trying to make it clear that he wants a shot behind center first.

“In 10th grade, they were looking at me as an athlete but now a lot want me at QB,” Liggins said. “I want to play QB. I feel like if I get the right training, I can be a good quarterback. But if I have to move somewhere (to another position) to help a team win, that's what I'll do.”

After a busy spring evaluation period and a summer full of unofficial visits, Liggins has already narrowed down his list of schools in anticipation of making a decision later this year.

“I'd say my top four is LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” he said. “I've been to all of them. I like them because they're all pretty nice campuses. Playing with Alabama and LSU, you know you're going to compete for a national championship every year and that's what I'm looking for. And I know they're a pipeline for the NFL.

“Playing time, playing QB and the school. All of it. I'm looking for a school that has good tradition and that put good students out and have a good graduation rate.”

Hutchinson excited to be building at Auburn

While there were plenty of commitments playing in the tournament, it was somewhat rare to have two on the same team. Such was not the case with the Goon Squad, which featured a pair of future Auburn Tigers in Dadeville (Ala.) tight end Darrion Hutcherson and Edgewood (Ky.) quarterback Zeke Pike. The two connected on plenty of throws over the weekend and even when one player hit a rough patch, the other was able help turn things around.

“If I'm struggling, he'll pick me up and if he's struggling, I'll pick him up,” Hutcherson said. “That's just how it is.”

The bond the two developed over the past few months on the 7-on-7 circuit is something Hutcherson expects to have dividends when the two eventually end up on the Plains.

“It definitely allows us to build that relationship early,” he said. “We're going to have a strong relationship at Auburn because we're out here doing (7-on-7). This is just like a vacation and getting extra work in.”

The 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end is aware that Auburn is losing several pieces from their magical run to the BCS championship last year but believes the current group of 2012 commitments can be part of another big run in a couple of years.

“You just have to go somewhere where your heart feels comfortable at,” Hutcherson said of why he picked the school. “Auburn had a great year with Cam Newton and Nick Fairley coming in and winning all the awards and the national championship. They've got a great coaching staff and now they're on a rebuilding year. Me and Zeke are going down there to start the number one recruiting class to get Auburn back rolling like they used to be.”

Hutcherson mentioned that he will an official visit to nearby Auburn and will possibly schedule one to Utah just to visit the school.
 

Posted on: July 3, 2011 1:55 am
Edited on: July 3, 2011 11:54 am
 

Badger Sports 7-on-7 Nationals Day 1 Notebook

Posted by Bryan Fischer

DALLAS – The sun was out, the weather was hot and the games were fierce at SMU's Gerald Ford Stadium Saturday afternoon for the Badger Sports 7-on-7 National Championship tournament. Teams from across the country rolled into town with high expectations as round robin play began and while no one made it through the day undefeated, the competition level was high from goal line to goal line.

The most talked about player at the event was easily Westlake Village (Calif.) receiver Jordan Payton. After becoming USC's first commitment for the class of 2012, the savvy wide out spent most of the spring and summer worried more about his own game than the recruiting game. However, since decommitting from the Trojans last week, he's been checking his phone a lot more often for information from college coaches.

“I've been 'monitoring' it,” Payton said with a laugh. “That's what I call it. I've been emailing back and forth with Michigan and several other schools.”

It should be noted that Payton was still out on the fields in the Texas heat running the same routes, making the same great catches and finding the end zone when he wasn't moonlighting as a safety for his 1925 All-Star team. Still, things were just a little bit different now that he was no longer committed.

“All of the schools, it's weird because they offer you and then they didn't talk to me as much because I was committed,” he said. “Now, Michigan, Cal, Arizona State, Florida (are talking to him). I'm interested to hear what Florida State's going to say.

“It's like I'm in a different area, I don't know what to do. I've only been committed. But I'm feeling good and I'm happy and taking it slow.”

The MaxPreps Top 100 receiver is still considering the local team, USC, and will meet with coaches next week to discuss his options. The biggest reason in pulling his verbal pledge back was to give the staff a chance to figure out their limited scholarship numbers and Payton knows that having to sit across from the coaches and talk with them about his place in the program going forwards is going to be a bit awkward when it happens.

“I'll be down there to talk with them so we'll see how that goes,” he said. “I have no idea what to expect to be honest with you.”

Kind of like talking with an ex-girlfriend?

“Exactly,” he said.

Payton does have a short list of schools he's considering and there tends to be a common theme as he tries to figure out where he'll eventually wind up signing with.

“All the schools I'm talking with all have great business schools,” he said. “Second, I just want to feel comfortable. I'm not saying I didn't feel comfortable with USC but I just felt it was that time. I'm just not sure that I want to be in LA.”

The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder will likely play most of his recruitment close to the vest before announcing and one of the key reasons why is the fact that he's trying to orchestrate a few other players to join him at his eventual destination.

“I'm going to tell you this, it's going to be interesting the next couple of weeks for in recruiting,” Payton said. “You're going to see a lot of changes. Just think Fab Five.”

Knowing how the comment would sound, Payton was quick to clarify “like” the Fab Five and that it didn't mean they were for sure headed to Michigan.

Treggs burning up on and off the field

On the field and off, two of the most polished players on any team were Payton and Bellflower (Calif.) receiver Bryce Treggs. The two are friends and with Payton no longer a lock to go to USC, the two have started to explore the possibility of playing together at the next level instead of against each other on the turf at SMU.

“We're actually talking about that,” Treggs said. “That'd be pretty good. I mean, if me and Jordan go to the same school, it'd be pretty much unfair.”

When asked about Payton's 'Fab Five' remarks, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder opened up a little bit more about the prospect of them playing together.

“Well you have all those players that went to Michigan and made it the program they are today,” Treggs said. “He's basically saying that we might be able to do that. Not necessarily that we're going to do it at Michigan but that's his idea. Him, me, Shaq Thompson, Ishmael Adams, a lot of guys.”

“The Cali Five, I guess.”

Treggs said he unofficially visited Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford and Notre Dame over the past few months. Many observers have read the tea leaves and believe that he will eventually end up playing for his father's alma mater, Cal, though. It's easy to see why they believe that whenever Treggs is asked who is recruiting him the hardest.

“Probably Cal... definitely Cal,” he said. “It's not a lock, I'm going to look at all of my other options. I'm pretty sure I'm going to make a decision before the season so I can get it out of the way and focus on having a good senior year. I hope I can lead my team to a CIF championship.”

Treggs was blowing by corners with ease despite the sweltering heat, scoring several touchdowns by utilizing the fade route along the numbers Saturday. Running routes in 101 degree heat was a bit of an adjustment for someone used to ocean breezes and Santa Anna winds however.

“It was very hot,” Treggs said. “In California, we've got that breeze from the beach and stuff like that. After the first two games we adapted to it so we're fine right now.

“I would say I'm in the zone right now. We have so many receivers on our team, you never know when you're going to get the ball with so many weapons. There's not really one go-to guy so I just run my route hard every time and when Troy (Williams) picks me, I'm ready to make a play.”

Williams, a 2013 player who was one of the sharper quarterbacks at the event, and Treggs easily had the best timing at the event and it was not limited to deep routes. The connection between the two runs deep and was developed over years of playing together.

“The timing has been there since forth or fifth grade,” Treggs said. “We used to play Pop Warner for the Carson Colts together. So the timing is definitely there and it's good to be out here with somebody you know.”

Treggs, it seems, knows just about everybody and it will be interesting to see what coaching staff gets to know him the best through the recruiting process.

Rippy growing as a linebacker

It's often become common place for top recruits to come to camps or combines to be seen and heard but sit on the sidelines when it comes to competition time. MaxPreps Top 100 linebacker Deaysean Rippy, despite being from McKees Rocks (Pa.), was not one such player and battled the heat and humidity of Texas to focus on getting better against some of the best players in the country.

“We played some good teams, they were competitive,” Rippy said. “I'm working on everything, from being a linebacker to playing like a corner or strong safety in coverage. The drops, the backpedal, being aggressive, all of it.”

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Rippy holds offers from programs such as Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee. With so many options to choose from, narrowing down the list is becoming a difficult task and one he's not sure when he'll wind up cutting down to a more manageable ten or fewer.

“I don't know to be honest,” he said. “I've got all these schools and don't get me wrong, they're all great schools and you're bound to go pro from whatever school. People go pro from IUP up in Pennsylvania so any school, it's just about playing.”

Like many recruits nowadays, Rippy has hit the road over the spring and summer to visit schools and see what the coaching staffs are like in person.

“Had a lot of unofficals up till now and I'm about to take a couple more visits,” he said. “I don't know where yet and that's the thing. One of the big things I've learned in the recruiting process is that when you get those first 10 offers, you want all of that attention. Then, once you get 20 or 30, you don't want that attention any more.”

“It's going to be hard to pick a school, it's going to be very hard.”

For a time, there was one program that stood out from the pack but as the attention has increased on his college choice, he's actually broadened his outlook instead of narrowing it down.

“At first, people knew that I favored Florida a lot,” Rippy said. “I came to realize that I'd rather keep it wide open. I'll go to Alabama or Auburn or wherever. Between now and August, I'm just going to going to weigh my options.”

Thompson looking at four

Yet another top 100 player who performed well at SMU was Sacramento (Calif.) safety Shaq Thompson. While he mostly was batting away balls that had too much air on them, day one of the tournament also allowed him to show his offensive attributes. Playing both ways was just one way the talented athlete showed off his love for the game.

“It's too hot out here. The turf is hotter, less wind, it's just a hot day,” Thompson said. “But it's a great day to play football and that always makes it a great day.”

Easily the most impressive defensive back on the field from a physical standpoint, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Thompson has a host of programs who are heavily pursuing him ever since he decommitted from Cal awhile ago.

“I'd say Washington and Cal and Notre Dame,” he said. “Mainly Washington, they've been calling me, hitting me up and see how I'm doing. They're getting there but I'm still open. I'm ready for anything.”

Though it appears there will be no more unofficial visits for the four-star safety, he's already moved on to figuring out who will receive an official visit as the calendar inches closer to the date prospects can begin visiting in a formal capacity.

“During the season I'm probably going to take a trip to Washington,” he said. “Cal, UCLA or Notre Dame, one of those too.”

Thompson said his top four schools were – not surprisingly - Cal, Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame. The distance from home for the two non-California schools likely won't be a huge factor but is still something he's considering.

“Not really, I've got family basically all over,” Thompson said. “It's just the people I grew up with are the people that I'm most comfortable with. So I'll probably stay closer to home.”

Notes

- The most anticipated game of the day matched up B2G and 1925, who have played against each other several times in championship settings like Saturday. There was a little bit of trash talk and a lot of plays being made. Notre Dame commit Deontay Greenberry would probably had taken home an award for most swagger and was nearly unstoppable in the red zone for 1925. Receiver Gabe Marks and Arizona State soft verbal commitment Kenny Lawler starred for B2G.

- Quarterback Jeremy Liggins was the primary signal caller for Team Louisiana and he stood out for his size (6-foot-3 and about 260-pounds) and the ability to get rid of the ball quickly when he wanted to. He was able to get the ball downfield to several speedy receivers as well. Darion Monroe, a Texas A&M commit, was a standout on the defensive side of the ball.

- Five-star quarterback Zeke Pike was a bit inconsistent on intermediate routes but made several nice tosses down the field. He looked better than he did at the Ohio State Nike and Elite 11 camps and had plenty of targets to throw to. Fellow Auburn commit Darrion Hutcherson looks like he could suit up on the Plains tomorrow and tight end Jesse James, who's headed to Penn State, were both big mismatches due to their size and ability to find an open spot on the field. Also on the team was receiver Jason Croom, who said he's nearing a decision and will announce next month.

- It's easy to overlook Detroit (Mich.) athlete Dennis Norfleet when you're walking by him on the sideline but it is not, however, easy to overlook him when he steps on the field. The 5-foot-9 (maybe) scatback was simply a playmaker on Saturday, catching everything thrown his way and making defenders miss often.

Posted on: March 21, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: March 21, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Las Vegas 7-on-7 Championship Highlights

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Elite travel teams B2G and Keyshawn Johnson's 1925 staged a back and forth competition for the Badger Sports 7-on-7 West Region Championship at UNLV on Sunday.

Check out some highlights of the game featuring B2G quarterback Marc Evans, wide receiver Gabe Marks, tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, cornerback Kevon Seymour and 1925 standout wide receivers Jordan Payton, Kodi Whitfield, Bryce Treggs, corrnerback Ishmael Adams and linebacker Jeremiah Allison.



 
 
 
 
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