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HAMMOCK: Exciting season ahead for Gwinnett linemen

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Linemen never get much love, particularly at this time of the year.

Summer football is all about the rapidly growing 7-on-7 passing league events, both here in Gwinnett County and all over the South. They showcase the skill positions -- the quarterbacks, the wideouts, the defensive backs.

Meanwhile the linemen quietly go about their summer training with very little fanfare, biding the time until late August when they get to butt heads with opponents in a real game. And when high school football kicks off this fall, they will be part of possibly Gwinnett's best group of linemen ever.

The real boost this year is with high-level defensive line talent, including juniors Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson and Kelsey Griffin of Mill Creek. Those two have offers from nearly everyone, and they're joined by future SEC/ACC players like Kurt Freitag of Buford, Jordan Washington of North Gwinnett and Georgia Tech-bound Francis Kallon of Central Gwinnett.

They pair up with Gwinnett's typically strong offensive line class headed up by likely the state's No. 1 tackle, Vadal Alexander. The Buford senior has offers from everyone with favorites of LSU, Alabama and Auburn. Greater Atlanta Christian tackle Chase Roberts already has committed to Georgia Tech and expect Peachtree Ridge's Alex Jauregui and several others to sign with top colleges next February, too.

With the Georgia High School Association's "dead week" offering a final break to local football players before practices intensify, here are some other things to look forward to this season:

  • A Sept. 15-16 showcase at the Georgia Dome is in the works that will include Greater Atlanta Christian vs. Westminster and if all goes well, Central Gwinnett vs. South Gwinnett.

  • The Corky Kell Classic celebrates its 20th anniversary with four Gwinnett vs. Cobb games on Aug. 20: Brookwood-Lassiter, Grayson-Kell, North Gwinnett-McEachern and Peachtree Ridge-Walton.

  • Dacula and Norcross get the season off to an early start on Thursday, Aug. 18 with a game on WSB-TV.

  • North Gwinnett has its annual showcase Aug. 27 -- it plays East St. Louis (Ill.) and Grayson plays Edgewater (Fla.) -- and the Bulldogs also take on St. Augustine (Fla.) in a Sept. 3 event at Carrollton.

  • Buford has an intriguing matchup with Yulee (Fla.) Sept. 10 at Westminster. Yulee is led by junior running back Derrick Henry, a talented 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who has rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his first two seasons and posted the nation's highest SPARQ combine score back in March, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

  • Speaking of Buford, it would be a shocker if the Wolves (and their double-digit class of college signees) don't win their fifth straight state championship.

  • Keep an eye out for Central Gwinnett linebacker Trey Johnson. He made a name for himself with 152 tackles (in 10 games) last season as a sophomore, but he will become a major star over the next two seasons. He already has offers from the likes of Florida State, Auburn and Ohio State.

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, visit www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.