Buckeye Commits Featured During ESPN’s First Weekend of HS Football

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Ohio State verbal commitments Emory Jones, Taron Vincent, and Jaiden Woodbey will all be featured during ESPN’s first weekend of high school football in August.

Also making an appearance will be possible future commitment L’Christian “Blue” Smith, out of Huber Heights Wayne.

Here is the full release from ESPN.

2017 GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff Begins Friday, August 25

  • Seven-Game Slate on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU
  • Kickoff Features 29 Players in ESPN 300
  • 10 States Represented, including Six 2016 State Champions

The 2017 GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff will conclude Summer of Next, taking place on August 25-27. The seven-game slate will feature 29 players ranked in ESPN 300, including two in the top 10—No. 1 Xavier Thomas (IMG Academy, Fla.) and No. 3 Trevor Lawrence (Cartersville). The annual event, in its eighth year, will have 10 states represented, and 22 players who have already committed to top college football programs, with Clemson, Miami (Fla.) and Ohio State leading the pack with three each. Games will be played on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.

For the first time ever, a same-site doubleheader on Saturday, August 26, will include four of the top quarterbacks in the class of 2018. The first matchup will showcase Saraland High School (Ala.) led by No. 76 Jack West, playing against Heard County High School (Ga.), with No. 22 QB Emory Jones (Ohio State commit). The second game will feature Bartram Trail High School (Fla.) and No. 37 ATH Joey Gatewood (Auburn commit) against the host school, Cartersville High School (Ga.), led by No. 3 QB Trevor Lawrence (Clemson commit).

The 2017 GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff preludes the GEICO ESPN 2017 High School Football Showcase.

2017 ESPN GEICO High School Football Kickoff Schedule (subject to change)

Notes: All times are ET. Player rankings from ESPN 300 (Seniors in the Class of 2018)

Team rankings per USA Today Super 25 poll


Friday, August 25
St. John Bosco (Calif.) vs. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.)
7 p.m. on ESPNU from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

  • Powerhouse matchup between California and Florida state champions from 2016; these two teams ended last season nationally ranked No. 5 and No. 6, respectively
  • St. John Bosco features the No. 61 ranked player Jaiden Woodbey, a safety who is committed to Ohio State
  • St. Thomas Aquinas is coming off of a win over Bingham (Utah) at the end of last season at the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series. They have a loaded defensive backfield with two players who are the sons of former NFL players: No. 33 Asante Samuel Jr., and No. 44 Al Blades Jr.


DeMatha (Md.) vs. Bishop Gorman (Nev.)

9 p.m. on ESPN from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nev.

  • Another “East vs. West” cross-country matchup between DeMatha, who went 12-0 in 2016, and Bishop Gorman, who is currently on a 54-game winning streak with back-to-back seasons ranked No. 1 nationally
  • DeMatha finished last season ranked No. 4 nationally, and are led on the defensive line by the No. 148 Austin Fontaine, a Maryland commit
  • Bishop Gorman boasts a talented roster, with No. 20 LB Palaie Gaoteote, No. 30 TE Brevin Jordan and No. 51 QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who will be in his first year as a starter at Bishop Gorman


Saturday, August 26

Tulsa Union (Okla.) vs. Broken Arrow (Okla.)

Noon on ESPN from Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Okla.

  • The last time these two teams met was in the state quarterfinals, with Union winning 40-24 on their way to the Oklahoma 6A-I state championship
  • Union will look to repeat as state champ, led by No. 185 WR C.J. Moore who is committed to Oklahoma St.
  • Broken Arrow returns a young and hungry team from last year, with all but three starters returning


Saraland (Ala.) vs. Heard County (Ga.)

3:30 p.m. on ESPNU from Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga.

  • In the first game of a double-header, Saraland travels to Georgia from Alabama and will be led by No. 76 QB Jack West, a Stanford commit
  • Heard County features the No. 22 QB Emory Jones, who is committed to Ohio State


Bartram Trail (Fla.) vs. Cartersville (Ga.)

7:30 p.m. on ESPN2 from Cartersville High School in Cartersville, Ga.

  • Bartram Trail takes on the back-to-back Georgia 4A state champ, Cartersville
  • Among the key players for Bartram Trail is No. 37 QB/ATH Joey Gatewood, who is committed to Auburn
  • Cartersville is on a 30-game winning streak with two-straight state championships and are led by the No. 3 QB Trevor Lawrence, who is a Clemson commit


IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Chandler (Ariz.)

10:30 p.m. on ESPNU from Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz.

  • In the night-cap, IMG Academy from Florida travels to Arizona to take on the defending 6A state champion, Chandler
  • IMG Academy boasts 11 players ranked in the ESPN 300, including No. 1 overall Xavier Thomas
  • Chandler is coming off a win over Valdosta (Ga.) at the end of last season in the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series


Sunday, August 27

Wayne (Ohio) vs. Pine-Richland (Pa.)

1:30 p.m. on ESPN from Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, Pa.

  • Wayne will look to continue their program’s success after an 11-1 season from last year, and features two ESPN 300 ranked players: No. 149 Alex Reigelsperger, committed to Kentucky, and No. 195 L’Christian Smith
  • Pine-Richland is led by No. 116 QB Phil Jurkovec, who is committed to Notre Dame


ESPN 300 Participants

RankPos.AthleteHigh SchoolCollege Commitment*
No. 1DEXavier ThomasIMG AcademyClemson
No. 3QBTrevor LawrenceCartersvilleClemson
No. 12DTTaron VincentIMG AcademyOhio St
No. 20ILBPalaie GaoteoteBishop GormanUSC
No. 22QBEmory JonesHeard CountyOhio State
No. 30TEBrevin JordanBishop GormanMiami (Fla.)
No. 33CBAsante Samuel Jr.St. Thomas AquinasFlorida State
No. 37ATHJoey GatewoodBartram TrailAuburn
No. 44CBAl Blades Jr.St. Thomas AquinasMiami (Fla.)
No. 51QBDorian Thompson-RobinsonBishop GormanUCLA
No. 61SJaiden WoodbeySt. John BoscoOhio State
No. 76QBJack WestSaralandStanford
No. 77CBHouston GriffithIMG Academy
No. 83DEStephon WynnIMG Academy
No. 96RBT.J. PledgerIMG AcademyOklahoma
No. 107QBArtur SitkowskiIMG AcademyMiami (Fla.)
No. 116QBPhil JurkovecPine-RichlandNotre Dame
No. 118WRBrian HightowerIMG AcademyMiami (Fla.)
No. 121OCCurtis Dunlap Jr.IMG Academy
No. 148DTAustin FontaineDeMathaMaryland
No. 149DEAlex ReigelspergerWayne High SchoolKentucky
No. 160WRElijah MooreSt. Thomas Aquinas
No. 173CBTrenell TroutmanSt. Thomas AquinasLouisville
No. 174OLBNikolas BonittoSt. Thomas Aquinas
No. 185WRC.J. MooreTulsa UnionOklahoma State
No. 188ATHBrendan Radley-HilesIMG AcademyNebraska
No. 195WRL’Christian SmithWayne High School
No. 200OLBMike Jones Jr.IMG AcademyClemson
No. 239OTReuben UnijeIMG Academy

*Please note: No player has signed with a school
All ESPN 300 Rankings and Verbal Commitments are up-to-date as of June 28, 2017