ATLANTA -- The third annual Rising Seniors program kicked off Thursday with the arrival of 98 of the best players in the state of Georgia in the Class of 2014. The weeklong event is unique among All-Star games because it honors the top juniors, educating the emerging players on the recruiting process and providing a chance to showcase their talent against the best in the Peach State. The All-Star game will be aired live on Monday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN3.com and WatchESPN.
One player participating in this year’s Rising Seniors program has been a household name in recruiting for almost two years now.
Stanley Williams’ commitment affected by changes at UGA
When running back Stanley Williams (Monroe, Ga./George Walton Academy) committed to Georgia at Dawg Night in 2011, he was the second sophomore in the country to announce his decision. Since then, Georgia has signed two running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, they have one committed in the 2012 class in A.J. Turman (Orlando, Fla./Boone) and are hot on the trail of another in ESPN 150 prospect Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). Williams has also seen his recruiter, Rodney Garner, leave Athens recently as well. The recent news has not gone unnoticed by the 5-foot-9, 192-pound junior.
“My commitment is obviously not as strong as it was before when I first committed because of the running backs they have now and Garner leaving,” Williams said. “It definitely had an effect on how I feel now, but we have a while to go so we will just see what happens.”
Williams spoke to Bulldogs running backs coach Bryan McClendon a few weeks ago, where McClendon indicated he would likely be recruiting him directly in the future anyway. But the departure of Garner has put another school in the mix as well.
“Coach (Rodney) Garner told me that even though he is at Auburn he does not expect it to affect his recruitment of me,” Williams said. “He wants me to get to know Coach (Gus) Malzahn more and him being at Auburn has them standing out more.”
A couple other programs are standing out as well to Williams.
“I have been talking with Coach (Tony) Eliott at Clemson and they are standing out,” Williams said. “With the production at Alabama, them sending guys to the league and the National Championship, they stand out. Kirby Smart said if they do not get Alvin Kamara, they will likely need another running back in the 2014 class and I could very well be that guy. He said to keep my options open and try to give them a look over the summer.”
Although Georgia or Alabama look to likely add Kamara to the roster next year, Williams says he is not worried about being buried in the depth chart at either program.
“Wherever you go you will have to work to be a starter, so I am not going to worry about who goes where,” Williams said.
Trending: Two impress at registration
There was no shortage of physically impressive athletes among the 98 invitees arriving for Rising Seniors Thursday. Two caught the eye of several coaches in attendance.
“Milan Richard (Savannah, Ga./Calvary Day) is put together really well and he has long arms,” Newton head coach Cortez Allen said. “His mom is impressive too so I can tell where he gets it.”
Washington head coach Rodney Hackney said one stood out not only because of his appearance, but also because of how he carries himself as a leader.
“Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) has the “it” factor both in his appearance and in his mental makeup,” Hackney said. “He has college football Saturdays written all over him.”
Best nickname: Linebacker Juwon Young (Albany, Ga./Albany) said he goes by “Ten Times” because when the game starts, he is a lock to rack up at least 10 tackles that night.
Biggest talker: Defensive end Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) spent much of the day laying the verbal smack down on defensive back Nick Glass (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) and wide receiver Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek).
Best hair: Linebacker Bryce Grauss (Alpharetta, Ga./Alpharetta) arrived sporting long red locks of hair reminiscent of Green Bay Packers standout linebacker Clay Matthews.
Best dressed: Several prospects arrived to the Buckhead Westin Hotel dressed to the nines, but it was Kitt and defensive end Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) that dressed for success.
I'm about to speak to the http://RisingSeniors.com group for fellow yellow jacket Joe Burns. Take the media serious guys! pic.twitter.com/tqJfcAoA
What’s on tap: As the Rising Seniors kick off the dust of the winter break, we will be looking to see who steps up to be the next Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) and Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly Co.), two prospects that were little-known to most before this event last year, but are now among the top 10 prospects in the country.