Cary L. Clark

Impressions from a game with a lot of prospects last night in Montgomery: After a two-hour, seven-minute lightning delay, Hoover and Central-Phenix City took the field at historic Cramton Bowl in night two of the AHSAA Kickoff Classic. Was the game worth the wait? Did lightning strike on the field as it did outside the gates? Yep. See below. Final: Hoover 17, USA Today No. 13 Central 14. To the Categories: Top Prospect Though once considered a Bama lean, Central receiver EJ Williams is now (and probably always was) leaning to Clemson. He’s 6-4, 185, a bit raw but very talented. Said Hoover Coach Josh Niblett: “EJ is a good player, with great length and speed.” And the former Alabama H-back Niblett is spot on. If Alabama is recruiting past Williams (as its being sold) then this should be another bumper crop of Tide receiver signees. Friday Williams caught seven balls for 64 yards. He caught a 7-yard touchdown to open the scoring and a 13-yarder to make it 14-0. Seniors Who Shined Central quarterback Tucker Melton was probably the best high school backup in America last year as he waited his time behind LSU signee Peter Parrish. Melton is committed to Bowling Green. Truth be told, he has SEC skills. Melton threw for 92 yards on 10-for-21 passing Friday. “The way Melton gets the ball out is so quick is impressive. He throws a really good deep ball,” said Niblett. Hoover’s quarterback is committed to Ole Miss in football and baseball, but Rebel Nation knows the MLB draft could burst that bubble. Even so, Ashford ((6-4, 211) went 9-21 through the air for 140 yards and ran for 37 more for the Bucs. “He’s a tremendous athlete,” said Central Coach Jamey DuBose. “He’s got a strong arm and plays baseball. I think the biggest thing is his speed. He’s an elusive runner. “ Juniors To Watch For the Bucs, Niblett thinks Dylan Pauly can play at the next level. He’s a running back listed at 6-0, 210. He ran 14 times for 45 yards. He can move a pile. His teammate Constantine Hontzas had big shoes to fill taking over for now-Bama freshman Will Reichard. Hontzas – a member of the legendary Birmingham restauranteur family – calmly nailed a 30-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bucs to the win. He also made a game-winner last year for the JV. Safe to say he’s a cool cucumber. He punts (39.6 average on five boots) and kicks off too, like Reichard did. His game-winner came just before the stroke of midnight. For the Red Devils, DuBose is coming off a state title last year and when he tells you to watch a player you listen. His top junior is running back Joseph McKay (6-0, 190). He’s hearing from LSU, Tennessee, Arkansas and others. McKay ran 27 times for 177 yards including a 62-yard scamper to the Hoover 19. Super Sophs Is Central’s TJ Woods (6-4, 195) cut from the Justyn Ross/EJ Williams mold? Maybe. “He’s got to get a little bit more limber,” DuBose said. Got to get a little bit more loose, but he’s long, he’s got unbelievable hands, big hands and can make some plays.” For the Bucs, Kory Warren is small for a linebacker at 6-190 but he’s got time to fill out. Warren had one solo tackle. Larry Munson ‘My God! A Freshman!’ Award Hoover ninth-grader RJ Hamilton has already caught Niblett’s eye. He’s a 5-10, 165-pound wide receiver. Hamilton had a 50-yard punt return to go with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ashford on a trick play. How ‘Bout Them Burgers They actually had stadium burgers and hot dogs for the media Friday in the Cramton Bowl press box. Both sufficed thanks to available condiments. Someone brought home made brownies and they were the chewy, tasty highlight of the meal. Next Up After a bye week to take in Alabama Alumni Night at the Braves game the night before Bama/Duke, my high school prospect coverage resumes on Sept. 6 when Bama pledge Roydell Williams and his Hueytown Golden Gophers visit Tuscaloosa to face the Hillcrest Patriots.
As you know from Tyler's story, Williams exploded for three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) and 204 yards from scrimmage Thursday. He ran for 148 and caught passes for 56 more in a win over Homewood. Williams ripped Hillcrest apart last year in Hueytown. He will probably do it again.