With fall upon us and the 2019-20 high school season about to kick off with football practices opening for good around the county, it’s time to look at some of the recruiting activity with our top players.
Most everyone by now may have heard of Weddington’s Will Shipley, the dynamic running back many say is the best at what he does in the country.
But he’s not alone.
Monroe sophomore-to-be Shaleak Knotts, Sun Valley stars Michael Gonzalez and Gavin Blackwell, Union Academy’s Phifer Griffin and Weddington’s big three of Alec Mock, Shipley and Trey Alsbrooks have all been picking up huge momentum on the recruiting trail this summer.
Knotts has already picked up 10 college offers before taking a snap of his sophomore season. Despite breaking a bone in his finger (he’ll be fine to start the high school season this fall) this summer at the North Carolina prospect camp, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound receiver/defensive back has offers from Duke, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Virginia, Penn State, Akron, Coastal Carolina and Rutgers.
As a freshman last season, Knotts caught 51 passes for 757 yards and 10 touchdowns, which included a 90-yard score to help the Redhawks upset Marvin Ridge.
Shipley is Weddington’s junior superstar who seemingly has offers from everyone. He is listed by 247Sports.com as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back in the country, as the No. 2 overall prospect in the state and as the nation’s No. 37 overall prospect regardless of position.
Shipley holds at least the 25 offers listed on his 247Sports page, and has received interest from nearly every major college program, including defending national champion Clemson, Ohio State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Duke, N.C. State, Northwestern, South Carolina and North Carolina. Most recently, Shipley was courted by Louisiana State.
As a sophomore last season, he ran for 1,417 yards and scored 19 touchdowns on the ground and he added 28 catches for 393 and six touchdowns receiving. He also had 49 tackles and three interceptions on defense.
Mock and Alsbrooks will star side-by-side at linebacker this season for the defending champs, forming the county’s top unit.
Last season, Mock had 150 tackles and 5.5 sacks while Alsbrooks recorded 95 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a defensive end, although this season he’s moving to linebacker, which is the position he’s getting recruited for.
Alsbrooks announced July 27 that he is committing to Elon after also receiving offers from N.C. Central, Richmond and N.C. A&T. With this being his first full season at linebacker, many more schools could become interested.
Mock has at least the 26 offers on his 247Sports page from schools such as Air Force, Army, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Eastern Michigan, Harvard and James Madison.
Blackwell, the 5-11, 165-pound Sun Valley junior receiver, has been picking up a steady stream of offers since the start of last season.
He already holds 22 offers, according to his 247Sports.com recruiting profile, including many from Power 5 schools such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Penn State, Florida, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Louisville, N.C. State, Ohio State, Duke, Vanderbilt, Virginia and more.
Last season with current North Carolina freshman quarterback Sam Howell throwing to him, Blackwell caught 51 passes for 1,135 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Spartan offensive lineman Michael Gonalez holds 11 offers, including from heavyweights Ohio State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Illinois and Louisville.
At 6-foot-4, 287 pounds, Gonzalez is ranked as a 3-star lineman and the No. 26 overall prospect in the state in the Class of 2021.
Another big lineman, Union Academy’s Phifer Griffin, has already made his home known as he committed to Illinois on July 21.
The recruiting website 247sports.com rates Griffin a 3-star lineman and as the No. 29 overall prospect in the Class of 2020.
Griffin’s other offers have come from schools such as Air Force, James Madison, East Carolina and Eastern Kentucky.