VIENNA -- Dooly County has enjoyed a wealth of talent on its defensive line in recent years.
Three years ago, defensive tackle Montravius Adams had the attention of major college recruiters. He wound up playing in the Under Armour All-America game after recording 127 tackles, 34 tackles for loss and 7½ sacks his senior year, and he quickly saw action as a true freshman at Auburn. He’s now a starter.
Two years ago, defensive end Jaylan Daniels didn’t draw quite the national attention Adams did, but he still had a senior year that produced Division I scholarship offers. He signed with South Alabama, where he redshirted in 2013 and saw action in two games last year.
Now, another defensive end is causing head coaches and defensive coordinators to take notice of what’s going on at Dooly County.
Antonneous Clayton, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior defensive end, is getting looks because of his speed off the ball and his ability to get to the quarterback. He is ranked in the 247sports.com composite as the 12th-best recruit overall in the state and the No. 2 defensive end in Georgia behind Clinch County’s Chauncey Manac.
“He brings a lot of athleticism,” Dooly County head coach Jimmy Hughes said. “We’ve been blessed here over the past five or six years and have had some outstanding athletes. He’s just another one that we’ve had here. He runs extremely well. We’re looking for great things out of him.”
Clayton, ranked as a four-star prospect by 247sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN, was a late bloomer. He didn’t play until his eighth-grade year, and it wasn’t until the first few months of this year that he was registering on the recruiting scene.
What he did at camps, however, made college coaches take notice. The quick pop off the ball caught the eyes of defensive coaches looking for defensive ends who specialized in rushing the quarterback.
As of Aug. 4, Clayton was up to 37 Division I schools, including several SEC and ACC offers.
“I didn’t know (the first step) was fast, but somebody told me that, ‘You are really quick, and if you work hard, you’re going to be something someday,’ ” Clayton said. “I didn’t really put too much thought into it, but over the years, it’s kind of progressed, and I’ve gotten faster and more explosive.
“I’ve (had to work) to break down the technique, going into the explosion the first step off the ball. But look where I am now: 37 offers, D-I offers.”
Those offers will take some time to work through. Clayton said he won’t rush his decision.
He has plenty of people giving him advice, including a certain Auburn defensive lineman. Clayton was a ninth-grader when Adams was a senior, and he said he was kind of oblivious to what was going on with Adams as he was being recruited. But the two have talked on several occasions since, and Clayton is digesting the advice as he goes through the recruiting process.
“I really didn’t know Montravius was getting recruited at all until now,” Clayton said. “He was recruited really, really, really hard. He came and sat down and talked with me and told me about how everything goes, how schools try to persuade you and how you want to get on their good side.”
There is one thing that is weighing on Clayton’s mind as the whole recruiting process goes on: his high school’s success.
Dooly County has yet to win a GHSA football title. The Bobcats reached the Georgia Dome in Adams’ senior year, falling to ECI in the Class A public school final, and has reached the playoffs in each of the five seasons Hughes has been the team’s head coach. But a championship has been elusive.
“As far as sitting down and making those decisions, it’s going to be hard,” Clayton said. “I might get an offer from someone tomorrow, you never know. That’s why I’m trying to keep a cool head and focus on my season and what we’re trying to do as a team. We haven’t won a state championship yet. We have a pretty good chance of winning one this year and getting over that hump instead of losing in the first round, second round or third round. We just want to get over that hump, bring it home and make history. That would be something great right there.”
Darion Anderson, Sr. WR/DB, Houston County: Georgia commitment (three stars) had 1,262 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns on offense last year to go along with 62 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries on defense. Averaged 23.4 yards per punt return, with a long of 85 yards. Second on the team in scoring with 114 points.
Marquez Callaway, Sr. WR/S, Warner Robins: Four-star recruit is listed 11th among all seniors in Georgia in the 247sports rankings, the No. 3 athlete in the state behind Elbert County’s Mecole Hardman Jr. and Savannah Christian’s Demetris Robertson.
Antonneous Clayton, Sr. DE, Dooly County: Four-star prospect came on strong in camps this year and now has offers from several SEC and ACC programs.
Tae Daley, Jr. S, Northside: Led GHSA Class AAAAA champion in tackles as a sophomore with 66, including 55 solo.
Steve Dolphus, Sr. WR, Westside: Three-star recruit caught 31 passes for 564 yards and six touchdowns and joins with fellow senior Gerimie Mitchell to form a one-two receiving punch for the Seminoles.
Torrez Finney, Sr. DL, Jones County: Had 123 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 22 sacks last year to go along with the Class AAAAA wrestling title at 195 pounds.
Jake Fromm, Jr. QB, Houston County: Passed for 3,629 yards as a sophomore with a 31-to-5 touchdown-interception ratio. Ranked third among Georgia quarterbacks in the Class of 2017 by 247sports (four stars).
Malik Herring, Jr. DL, Mary Persons: One of just two defensive starters returning for Mary Persons. Ranked as the 10th-best junior overall in Georgia and the top junior defensive end in the state (fourth nationally) by 247sports (four stars).
David Marshall, Sr. DL, Upson-Lee: Three-star recruit is getting strong looks from Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi after missing the 2014 season to a knee injury.
Nate McBride, Jr. LB, Vidalia: Rivals has him listed as the No. 1 junior linebacker in the country and the No. 10 recruit overall in the Class of 2017 (five stars).
Tyrique McGhee, Sr. WR/CB, Peach County: Georgia commitment (three stars) and Georgia Junior Bowl participant scored four all-purpose touchdowns last year.
Malik Walker, Sr. DT, Macon County: Three-star recruit played in the Georgia Junior Bowl last season after recording 39 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble.