Top Gwinnett football prospects go to school

DULUTH -- Elite football players from across the state are at Northview High School this weekend as they participate in Football University, a program put on by the U.S. Army All-American Game organizers.

The program, which is held in 45 cities across the country, Canada and Europe has brought together some of the next stars on the college gridiron.

"We're in our fifth year of FBU," said U.S. Army All-American Bowl National Director of Scouting Erik Richards. "We saw guys, who dominated at the regional and state levels, get to the national level and get embarrassed by other athletes across from them because of technique. So, we put this on, so these athletes can get better at their positions."

The camp, which hosts players from sixth-11th grades, featured some of Gwinnett's top athletes as they work to get better at their positions.

Brookwood's Ky Priester, who has verbally committed to Georgia, and also has offers from Vanderbilt and TCU, said the camp has helped him learn the defensive back position better.

"I'm learning better technique for my position, so that I can use that in the future," Priester said.

For teammate Shaun McGee, the opportunity to watch himself on film has been a valuable tool.

"During the season, we're watching film with 22 guys on the field," he said. "Here, we're getting film of our one-on-one drills and we're seeing the mistakes we're making. When you see those mistakes, you're surprised because you didn't know you were making them, but you also want to go out there the next time and improve on it."

McGee, who has offers from Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi State, among others, said a few months ago, he didn't think he'd be in this position.

"I had no offers for a while, and within the last three months I've gotten 20 offers," McGee said. "I'm not like my boy Ky, who knows where he wants to go. I still have a lot of figuring out to do to find the school that is the right fit for me, although I would say UNC is the leader right now."

Along with the drills that take place on the field, the athletes are also treated to seminars in leadership and performance on the field.

"Leadership is huge, and at Brookwood we know who the leaders are on the team," McGee said. "Those are the guys that never took plays off on the field, and you knew would be on your back if you did the wrong thing off the field. That kind of leadership is what helps you win a state title."

"Number one, this camp is to help those athletes be better on the field," Richards said. "Second, it's to help them be better off the field. Football will end at some point for everyone, and they need to know what they need to do to succeed off the field."

Central quarterback Eman Westmoreland is no stranger to FBU as he's in the camp for the second year in a row.

"Each time, I've gotten my drop and my throws more accurate," he said. "I'm better at reading defenses, which is important. If you can't read defenses, then you're not going to go too far as a quarterback."

Although he has no official offers, the 5-foot 10-inch Westmoreland said Georgia Tech, Auburn and Wisconsin have all shown interest.

"Some people think just because you're 5-10 means you're not D-I material," Westmoreland said. "(Former Wisconsin quarterback) Russell Wilson was short. It just goes to show you that whether you're tall or short, if you have good mechanics and know where you're supposed to throw to, you can be a successful quarterback."

Richards stressed how important the technique aspect of the game is to these athletes.

"Technique will beat talent every time," he said. "On the national stage, you might have a guy that's just as good or better than you, and your technique is what's going to allow you to beat him."

Richards said his hope is to bring the camp back to Gwinnett, where it has been the last two years at Duluth and Mountain View.

"The turf is important, and the wear and tear other sports put on high school football fields makes it tough to bring a camp of this caliber there," he said.