HOOVER, Ala. — There will be a lot of new this football season at Grayson (Loganville, Ga.).
With previous coach Mickey Conn now an assistant at Clemson, veteran coach Jeff Herron was coaxed from Prince Avenue (Bogart) to coach the Rams. Herron won three state titles before that at Camden County (Kingsland) and one at Oconee County (Watkinsville).
An ambitious early schedule and promising talent attracted an influx of Division-I level transfers to the team as well, including linebacker Breon Dixon, who transferred from Peachtree Ridge (Suwanee, Ga.). Dixon said while he’s hoping to hone his coverage skills here at the USA Football 7on7 National Championship, the real bonus is getting better acquainted with his new teammates.
“I just want to come out and get good work in with the team,” Dixon said. “It builds team chemistry. A lot of teams come out here to do 7on7, but we don’t do much 7on7. This is one of the few (7on7) events we’ve done this summer, except for a small one near us. We come out and bond. We were all on the bus together and we’ll be in the hotel for a few days and then we go to a real camp, where they have pads and stuff back in Georgia.”
Grayson opens its season with IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) on Aug. 26, a televised game that’s part of the GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff. Other opponents include Deerfield Beach, Fla., Georgia state playoff teams McEachern (Powder Springs) and Archer (Lawrenceville) and Hoover, Ala., which has won three state titles in the past four years.
Dixon transferred to Grayson before he knew of its schedule. However, the Rams were state semifinalists last season and that was the attraction, he said.
“My thought was to be in a program that will prepare you for college,” Dixon said. “I just wanted to go out my senior year with a bang. You’re going to play in 10-11 games anyway. You might as well play for a reason.”
Besides Dixon, who has committed to Georgia, newcomers include another Peachtree Ridge transfer in wide receiver/cornerback Deangelo Gibbs; five-star defensive back Jamyest Williams from Archer (Lawrenceville); sophomore defensive tackle Tru Thompson from Griffin; Michigan commit Kurt Taylor, a running back from Newton (Covington); and four-star offensive tackle Tony Gray from Central Gwinnett (Lawrenceville).
Herron isn’t a huge fan of 7on7. However, he sees at least one plus of playing here.
“This is my first experience with 7on7,” Herron said. “We’ll see how it goes. This will help us when we come back in November to play Hoover here.”
Herron ran the Wing T for much of his career, but with the talent Grayson has, he has more options and he’s hoping to use the event here to learn something about his team.
“We’ll run a little Wing-T and a little Spread,” Herron said. “It depends on the situation. We’ll try to find out what we’re best at and we’ll go from there.”
The Unbeatens: The event began as the Hoover Select National 7on7 in 2001. This is the first year of USA Football’s sponsorship and this year’s field of 46 teams is its largest. Heading into the second day of pool play on Friday, there were 12 teams that were 2-0: Hoover and Columbus (Miami) in Pool A; Hewitt-Trussville (Trussville, Ala.) in Pool B; Bob Jones (Madison, Ala.) in Pool C; Wenonah, Ala. in Pool D, Warren Central (Indianapolis) and Central (Phenix City, Ala.) in Pool E; Alabama 7A champion McGill-Toolen (Mobile) in Pool F; Brownsburg, Ind., and Enterprise, Ala. in Pool G; and Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) and Mandeville, La. in Pool H.