Albany High's Juwon Young and Monroe's Charles Stafford still have a year left of high school, but their college futures look bright in the wake of Monday's Georgia Junior Bowl.
ALBANY — Juwon Young’s cell phone and Facebook page started blowing up.
One after another, the messages from college recruiters started pouring in after the Albany High junior linebacker played in Monday’s Georgia Junior Bowl in Atlanta.
“I’m just now starting to get on the radar,” Young said. “A lot of the other (players at the game) had 20 or 30 offers. I’m looking for a whole lot to come in after this game.”
It didn’t take long.
Young was named the West team’s defensive MVP after Friday’s practice, was named a team captain for Monday’s game and then led the West to a 10-7 victory with four tackles and a key fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.
Young said recruiters started tracking him down just one day after the game.
Young, who had 120 tackles, eight sacks, 10 tackles for loss and three fumble recoveries as a junior, has been getting interest from Division I schools for months now, but the 6-2, 230-pounder didn’t have any official offers on the table.
That might change after Monday’s game.
“He’s big, he can fly, and he will hit you; I think that’s what you want in a linebacker,” Sandy Creek coach Chip Walker, the West’s head coach, told RisingSeniors.com during the four-day event that featured 95 of the state’s top juniors.
While Young opened eyes on the defensive side, Monroe quarterback Charles Stafford turned some heads on the offensive side.
“Both of those kids represented this area really well,” said Monroe coach Charles Truitt, who coached the West’s linebackers.
Stafford was one of three QBS to split snaps for the West, and he finished 4-for-7 for 53 yards.
Just like Young, Stafford is waiting on his first Division I offer but has been receiving strong interest from schools like LSU, Missouri, South Carolina and Georgia.
Stafford, who completed 197-for-316 passes for 3,022 yards and 23 TDs and ran for another seven TDs and 312 yards as a junior at Monroe, said Monday’s game will only bring more interest his way.
“After the game a guy from the University of Miami came and talked to me and said he was recruiting me and that he was looking forward to coming to my games my senior season,” Stafford said.
Truitt said Stafford’s ability to adjust to a new playbook in a matter of days — along with his poise in the pocked during the game — made his stock even higher.
“(Walker and the West coaches) were speaking highly of him,” Truitt said. “He came in and learned the offense in a day or two. And they were impressed with his ability to run and make those throws.”
Albany High coach Felton Williams said recruiters and coaches were impressed with Young, too.
“I think they saw a kid that can play at any D-I level immediately,” Williams said. “They saw his athleticism and that he handles the attention extremely well. A lot of times when a player gets this much attention this early they can either become deterred or highly motivated. Juwon is highly motivated.”
Young’s biggest play on Monday might have saved the game for the West.
With the clock winding down in the fourth quarter and the West holding on to a three-point lead, Young jumped on a muffed punt to give the ball back to Stafford and the offense.
It was hustle plays like that, that helped Young take home the defensive MVP award after Friday’s practice.
“I hit them hard, I know that,” Young said about his performance during four practices and a walk-through before Monday’s game. “I was hustling during plays and not walking on and off the field. I was running full speed every play.”
Williams said that Young is receiving “strong interest” from Florida, Miami, Georgia, Alabama, Maryland and Auburn — but Florida might be at the top of the list right now.
“When Florida came on, they came on hard,” Young said. “The coaches there are always keeping in contact with me. They hit me up on Facebook about every day or every other day.
“I believe that with my size and if I keep working hard that I can make an immediate impact as a true freshman.”
Young and Stafford both said that they would like to commit to a school before their senior years.
“That gives you time to get to know the coaches and the program and the school in general,” Young said.
But for now, the focus is all on football.
“You just have to stay humble,” Stafford said. “You just have to play the game of football and know that (the offers) will come. They told us when we were up there (in Atlanta) not to let colleges get to your head. Just play your game, and they will come in the end.”