Posted by Bryan Fischer
ORLANDO -- Gridiron Kings, the final recruiting event of the summer, kicked off at the Wide World of Sports complex Saturday afternoon near Disney World, featuring some of the top talent in the country.
Divided into four regions, the players from the Southeast continued their impressive dominance of the event, going undefeated in the first two games of pool play in an event the team has won every year since its inception.
"It's been a great experience so far, I'm playing with some of the best talent from the Southeast," Fairburn (Ga.) defensive back Joshua Holsey said. "We're playing against everyone from around the country and that's a great experience. We're having fun and since we're winning, it's really fun."
The Southeast lucked out in its two wins, however. The deciding touchdowns in each game came with less than a minute remaining, but the find-a-way attitude was just part of the spirit the athletes from the South exuded.
"Our offense just brings us back and our defense just tries to do what we can to stop the offense from scoring," Holsey said. "We all pretty much know each other from The Opening. We all have a close bond, either in the locker room or on the field, it's just like playing with each other (for years), we know what each other does and likes. That's the greatest thing."
Though most of the players at Gridiron Kings are already committed to a school, that didn't stop the Auburn-bound Holsey from trying to get a few players to join him on The Plains.
"Yes, I'm trying to get as many recruits to come to Auburn as possible," Holsey says without hesitation. "Me, JaQuay (Williams), we always talk about getting the best guys. We want to go down there and win, we're trying to win the national championship ourselves. We're trying to build a class that can go down there and compete and have fun."
Holsey has been committed to the Tigers since May and points to one thing above others as being the reason he is firmly a part of Auburn's recruiting class.
"Just the coaches," he said. "They're really nice to me. The players, the whole facilities, it just feels like a family and a place where I can spend the next four years there."
Adams close to decision
If there was one team really looking forward to toppling the Southeast, it was the West squad. Westlake Village (Calif.) cornerback Ishmael Adams helped the squad to a 1-1 mark, with the lone loss coming thanks to a pass that was tipped by a defender right into the hands of a Southeast receiver for a score with less than 30 seconds left. Despite the close loss, spirits were high throughout the day for a dangerous squad come the knockout round.
"It's a great time with all the fellas, just hanging out," Adams said. "We're putting in work."
Adams and his West teammates are closer than the other three regional teams in part because they've seen each other early and often this summer.
"Just from camps and doing all these different things, we're very comfortable with each other," he said. "The chemistry is there. We're looking to do well."
Doing well also includes a bit of trash talk between the squads. For the West, according to Adams, that means shouts of "West Side All Day," or "West Side is the Best Side." He is also pretty talkative on the field with his teammates about what to expect from the offenses and didn't mind talking about his recruiting either.
"I'm very close," he said of a decision. "I'm still going to take all my official visits but I'm pretty sure with where I want to go right now. I'm taking my visits to see what the other schools have. I want to make the decision before I go into the season."
Holding offers from most of the Pac-12, Adams has always looked to stay somewhat close to Southern California and has narrowed down his list to include programs with strong ties to the area.
"UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Colorado and Arizona State," he said were his finalists. "UCLA and Cal, they're on me real big, then ASU. I've also always talked to the Oregon coach and he's told me he's not really hard on calling me every day. He just let me know that he wants me at the school and if I want to come, it's my decision."
Adams added that fellow West teammate Bryce Treggs, who committed to Cal two weeks ago, was heavily recruiting him for the Bears.
-- Tampa (Fla.) athlete Nelson Agholor wasn't supposed to be at the event but was a late -- and impact -- substitution for the Southeast squad. He's a fluid athlete who was a favorite target on offense and could really get off the line. He's tremendous at safety, but the way he can influence a game on either side of the ball, it's no wonder schools are just recruiting to get him on campus and then figure out a position later. He said he didn't want to talk recruiting and instead wanted to focus on what happened on the field.
-- SMU commit Robert Lewis and Texas A&M commit Trey Williams were the two most impressive players out of the backfield. Lewis was able to find soft spots in the defense and exploit them at all three levels of the passing game. Williams had two highlight plays when he shaked and baked his way down the field for a big gain and then followed it up with a touchdown on a seam route.
-- Tight end Sean Price continues to impress this summer. The Citra (Fla.) product was once again a matchup issue for linebackers who either couldn't handle his speed or couldn't handle his size. He has a good release off the line, but it can get better, which will only make him more dangerous in the passing game. Price made one of the best catches of the day when he dove for a ball and caught it one-handed for a touchdown.
-- 2013 quarterback Shane Morris had a bit of an up-and-down day. He wasn't as sharp as he normally was in 7-on-7 settings, sometimes lapsing when making an easy throw and turning it into an incompletion. The lefty didn't have the athletes that some of the other quarterbacks did but he still should have performed better.
-- Texas A&M commit Matt Davis was one of four Aggies in Orlando and just flat-out moved the ball downfield for the Southwest team. He doesn't throw the tightest spirals, but he moves the chains and gets the ball to the right receiver.
-- Boise State commit Marcus Rios had a nice day and grabbed a spectacular interception off a deflection versus the Southeast team.
-- It's going to be tough to get past the Southeast team when they have players like defensive backs Chaz Elder and Travis Blanks. The pair hooked up on an interception with Blanks tipping the ball and Elder pulling down the turnover. The pair simply were ball hawks all evening.
-- The top wide receiver in the country, Texas commit Cayleb Jones, went down with a hand injury early in the day. Fellow Longhorn Thomas Johnson made sure he wouldn't be missed with a terrific day. He has great hands, runs good routes and catches everything.
-- The more athlete Ronald Darby plays defensive back, the more he looks like a top-flight safety prospect. The talented athlete has speed and burst almost unmatched and does a really good job of focusing on his man and reading what he does.
-- It was a very good day for Scottsdale (Ariz.) athlete Davonte Neal. There's still debate as to whether he's best suited for offense or defense and he played both equally well on Saturday. He's still a bit stiff in his hips when he turns and runs at corner but he nevertheless was an impact player on both sides of the ball and made several plays in the secondary.