By: J.T. Powell
On April 27, 2019 nearly 300 elite athletes’ converged at The Greenbrier Sports Performance Center in White Sulphur Springs, WV for the second inaugural Appalachia Prep Combine. The showcase featured some of the best talent in the region, many of whom you will see playing on Saturday’s.
MVP: Isaiah Johnson
The nation’s number 5 overall ranked player in the class of 2021, and the number 1 ranked defensive back was the main attraction at this year’s showcase. A local product, Johnson rearranged his busy schedule to support his fellow recruits from southern West Virginia. The Bluefield High School standout didn’t disappoint either throughout the day, by testing well and leading position drills with Coach Tyrone Gilliard, a former Pittsburg Panthers standout safety. When it came to the 1-on-1s period, Johnson took a ton of reps against the best wide-outs the APC had to offer (a couple possessing Division I offers). With over 20 reps only two passes were caught on him earning him overall and DB MVP honors. Other overall MVP considerations were Deep Creek’s (VA) 2020 LB Gabe Fuster and Hurricane’s (WV) 2020 DB Able Cunningham.
Top QB: Brock Cain
Parkwood High School's (NC) 2020 quarterback Brock Cain stole the show at the gunslinger position. Cain impressed former WVU record setting QB, Chad Johnston, by breezing through position drills and displaying superior arm-strength. Cain separated himself from a loaded position group during the 1-on-1s period by throwing several precision bombs to wide-outs. Cain proved himself to be a big time Division I caliber quarterback. Other notable QB performers were Morgantown High School’s (WV) Cameron Rice 20’, Gar-Field's Bishop Fitzgerald 21', and Porter Ridge’s (NC) Mason Cox 20’.
Top RB: Kirkland Harris
Porter Ridge 2020 running-back, Kirkland Harris, lived up to the hype. He was expected to be the top performer based on evaluations leading up to the APC, so it wasn’t surprising to hear Hokie legend Jarrett Ferguson name Harris as the best prospect in a loaded RB’s group. The Pirate’s star recruit tested well and dominated during 1-on-1s. Expect him to rise to stardom as his former teammate Jaylen Coleman moves on to the Duke Blue Devils. Another RB MVP consideration was Bluefield High School’s (WV) JJ Davis who holds several D-1 offers. Davis wowed players and fans with some nasty moves during the 1-on-1s period. Davis looks great and has the potential to be a Power 5 recruit. Other notable RBs were Christopher Thomas form Science Hill High School (TN) who coaches were raving about after he clocked a sub 4.4 forty, Blake Hartman 21’ Mussleman High School (WV), Ethan Humphries of Gibbs High School (TN), and Caleb Bowers 21’ of Wyoming East High School (WV) who hit 30 reps of 185lbs on the bench-press.
Top WR: Tyler Rose
Liberty Christian Academy’s Tyler Rose put on a spectacular performance against a talented DBs group. Rose measured and tested well. He displayed polished route running and length. A solid workout with Coach Long and a couple of acrobatic catches earned him Top WR honors. Other considerations for WR MVP were Rodney McDay of Asheville, NC and Seth Pugh of Pikeville, KY. Other notable performers were Devin Lester of Bluefield, (VA), Jackson Hensley of Pikeville, KY, Solomon Dunn of Johnson City, TN, and Brandon Perry of Indian Trail, NC.
Top TE: Aiden Twombly
Aiden Twombly impressed coaches at the 2019 APC with his size and athleticism. Twombly showed his ability to compete among an elite group of athletes. The Marvin Ridge star tight-end displayed speed and power during the individual period and took advantage of his limited 1-on-1 reps. Other notable combo players in this group were Jakob Caudill (Ona, WV), and Austin Cain (Parkwood, NC).
Top OL: Marceullus Marshall
Morgantown High School’s 2020 OT Marcellus Marshall looked and performed the best out of a much improved OL group at the APC this year. Marshall put up respectable testing numbers. However, the Mohigan separated himself from other competitors’ during the individual period with Tanner Russell. After loosing his first rep during the 1-on-1 period, Marshall rebounded with a couple of pancakes. Other notable OL performers were 21' OC Garrett Green of Hurricane (WV), 20' OC Ethan Wofford of Belfry, KY, and 21’ OT Ben Compliment of Coal Grove, OH.
Top DB: Isaiah Johnson
We won’t recap what Isaiah Johnson did yesterday, instead we will talk about other notable performers. Able Cunningham of Hurricane High School was in the debate for both overall MVP and DB MVP. Cunningham had to work his way into the showcase and went nearly undefeated with a ton of reps in the showcase group. Cunningham displayed immaculate technique and fierce competiveness. The Hurricane native is without question a Power 5 recruit. Other notable DB performers were Dru Dotter 20’ of Havelock, NC, Gage Mannon 20’ SS of Pulaski, VA, and Donovin Davis 21’ CB of South Charleston, WV.
Top LB: Gabe Fuster
For the second consecutive year, Deep Creek High School’s Gaberiel Fuster took home APC Top LB honors. Several former NFL linebackers all unanimously chose Fuster as the Top LB amongst the most talented group at the APC. Fuster looked faster during position drills and dominated during 1-on-1s. Also in the discussion for Top LB was Connor Henderson of Indian Trail, NC. Henderson intimidated other kids and showed no mercy when matched up against RBs. He was the most physical looking LB in attendance. Henderson will pick up more Division I offers soon. Other notable LB performers were CJ Livesay 20’ (Morristown, TN), Mason Polier 20’ (Big Stone Gap, VA), Mason Woods 21’ (Woodbridge, VA), Austin Gough 21’ (Owensboro, KY), Matson Stanley 20’ (Christiansburg, VA), Jermond Davenport Jr. 21’ (Hampton, VA), and Darrion Bell 20' of Danville, KY.
Top DL: Tavion Breland
Breland got off to a hot start during the 1-on-1 period by breezing pass a Division I prospect. He didn’t slow down there, rather he continued to make the 1-on-1s period look easy. We stated earlier this year that Breland could be one of the top defensive lineman in the state of North Carolina next season and he proved us right yesterday with an impressive showing. The Marvin Ridge standout measured and tested great. Also in the discussion for Top DL honors was Jaiden Miles of Johnson City, TN. Miles went undefeated during the 1-on-1s period. Other notable DL performers were Gunner Givens 22’ (Covington, VA), William Long 21’ (Hopkinsville, KY), 20' DE Bomani Brooks (Hurricane,WV) and 21' DT Derrick Flack Jr. (Bluefield, WV).
Top Underclassman: Gunner Givens
Covington High School’s (VA) Gunner Givens drew the attention of coaches all day with his huge frame as a freshman. Givens is still raw, but has huge upsize. He performed well against older lineman at the APC even winning a rep against a Division I kid. Also in the discussion for Top Underclassman was 2022 WR Sage Webb of Richlands, VA who tested extremely well and made some impressive catches in the showcase game. Other notable underclassmen were Clytavious Barnes 22’ WR of Knoxville, TN and Brody Meadows 22’ OT of Bluefield, VA.
Top Specialist: Levi Forrest
Class of 2020 punter, Levi Forrest of Richlands, VA wowed coaches and fans with punts that hung high in the air and traveled great distances of 60 plus yards. Forrest will be performing kicking duties for some Power 5 program in the future. Other notable performers were Mateo Peric 20’ of Harrisonburg, VA and Joey Dales 20’ K of Bluefield, VA.
Stay tuned for more coverage and videos of the 2019 APC!