Posted by Bryan Fischer
ORLANDO -- The Southeast's run of titles at the Champion Gridiron Kings is over as the Southwest team was the only one left standing and took home the championship Sunday afternoon at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.
The team's run was fueled by players from the state of Texas, mostly commitments from Texas and Texas A&M. While many of them will be bitter rivals in a couple of years, they banded together to put on an impressive show at the final recruiting event of the season.
"Texas football, it's like religion, there's nothing like it," said Aggie commit Matt Davis, the tournament's offensive MVP. "This award is for the offense as a whole. I can't take credit for this at all, those guys they made me look good."
"It was fun repping our region," defensive MVP and Oklahoma-bound cornerback DeVante Harris said. "Everybody knows that Texas has a lot of talent and to come out and prove that we do is great."
"We knew we were going to win," running back Trey Williams said. "We came in here with a winning attitude. When we first met each other, we were talking and I could just tell from then that we were going to work together."
The Southwest team lost MaxPreps' second-ranked receiver and number three overall player Cayleb Jones early on day one after he broke his ring finger on a freak play. In his absence, fellow Texas commit Thomas Johnson more than filled in, catching everything thrown his way and torching opposing defensive backs using his speed.
"I just wanted to win," Thomas said. "We would have done better with him but, as a team, we just had to come together."
When the Aggies and Longhorns weren't scoring touchdowns on the field they were often discussing strategy off it. Sometimes this strategy involved how to get one another to switch their commitment to the rival school.
"It's a little bittersweet because of Thomas and Cayleb. I have a great relationship with them but... they're going to Texas," Davis said. "It hurts that they're going there but whoever is throwing to Thomas and Caleb, they are blessed because those guys make plays. I'm blessed to have Trey and Bralon (Addison) coming (to A&M) because they were making plays all day too."
"We were trying to recruit the Texas guys," Williams added. "They know good and well they want to be an Aggie."
Williams was working on flipping linebacker Tim Cole while Davis was working on a adding even more offensive firepower to the Aggies class of 2012.
"I wish i could get Thomas and Cayleb," Davis said. "I know we don't have too much room in our class but I'd put them in my suitcase if need be."
Not sure if the 6-foot-4 wide receiver would fit, especially when you consider the suitcase has a crystal MVP trophy in it too.
Price wraps up summer same way he started it
The favorite for the event was the Southeast team that had a perfect record until being upset by the 0-3 (at the time) Midwest bunch. Though the team fell short of the title, they had a strong run led by players such as Citra (Fla.) tight end Sean Price.
"It's ok, we can't hold our head down about it," Price said. "You lose. You win. But the great players they overcome it and get better. They take this as motivation and get hungry for the next game. That's how I feel about it."
Price had a huge week at The Opening and often heard his name called followed by the word touchdown. The two events were quite different with the notable exception being that the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder was a huge threat in the passing game.
"(The Opening) was an all-star team and this was more region-by-region," he said. "It was just a great workout and feels good to be out here."
The talented tight end has excelled at 7-on-7 throughout the summer by being a complete mismatch with linebackers. Drops have not been an issue at all and one can see why when he holds up his very large hands. Price has definitely taken advantage of his opportunities to go from relative unknown to one of the top tight ends in the nation.
"It's been amazing and I'm not going to lie, it does feel good," he said. "At the same time, I've got to stay humble because most players lose who they are and think they're this and that. That's when their game begins to fall because they lose their work ethic. I'm not trying to be like that."
The Southeast team had several players who, like Price, are committed to USF. The biggest draw to the school besides football for Price is the Bulls' medical program because he would one day like to be a radiologist. While he has his future plans squared away on the academic side, getting a glimpse at what it will be like to play with his fellow commits was a welcome opportunity at Gridiron Kings.
"It's great to play with some of my future brothers, they're ballers just like I am," Price said. "I'm pretty sure they're going to work just as hard if not harder than I am when we all get to college."
- In the upset of the day, the Midwest beat the heavily favored Southeast team 18-14. 2013 quarterback Shane Morris was much better on Sunday than he was Saturday and he a big reason why the team was in contention. He threw a very nice deep ball and made much better decisions. One of his favorite targets was Southfield (Mich.) tight end Ronald Thompson. The big pass catcher was surpassingly agile despite being one of the biggest players on the field. He's down to Michigan, Syracuse and Maryland and will likely announce his decision shortly. Thompson says 'Cuse coach Tyrone Wheatley is recruiting him the hardest but it's still very close among the three.
"Pretty much the same things stand out. I'm pretty comfortable with all the coaches, they're all honest with me and tell me where I stand," Thompson said. "I want to make a decision before the season but I kind of want to take official visits. I'll get it worked out."
- Virginia commit Kwontie Moore probably could have been named the defensive MVP despite being on the losing end of things on the Midwest team. He helped get the team back in the final game with an interception in the end zone and made the defensive play of the day when he took a pick 80 yards to the house.
- The most low key player who made some huge plays was Southwest tight end Griffin Gilbert. The TCU-bound player had reliable hands and skied up for three or four jump balls and ended up with a catch overtime. He also had a great one-handed catch that resulted in a 40-yard gain along the sidelines.
- It was a bit of a quiet weekend for Cal commit Bryce Treggs. The West quarterback, Mike Baker, didn't really look his way but the deep threat did manage to find the end zone a few times by getting behind the defense using his speed and sharp route running ability.
- The two players who really impressed with their speed and quickness were wide receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive back Ronald Darby. It took awhile for Darby, a Notre Dame commit, to get into a rhythm but he was able to shut receivers down in the second half of games. Agholor probably ended up with more touchdowns then anyone this weekend. Agholor avoided talking recruiting this weekend but the scuttlebutt on him was that it remains between USC and several of the Florida schools.
- After Trey Williams zigged and zagged for a big gain on a running play, including reversing field and leaving a defender grasping at air, cornerback Darion Monroe shouted, "He can stop on a dime! He can stop on a dime!"