• John Macon Gillespie

Fortius Project Top Performers (2/25/17)

The Fortius Project made its 2017 return with plenty of excitement on Saturday. There was plenty of talent gathered on Eaton Field at ICC, but this is the group that stood out.


Patrick Shegog, South Panola

The South Panola QB1 took home the STRONGER award as the camp’s MVP. Not only was he impressive slinging it around during the pass skeleton action, but he tested better than many skill guys

in attendance.

Shegog was impressive from sign-in until the final whistle blew on the day. Look for him to lead a USP resurgence on the gridiron this fall.

Jordan Strong, South Panola

Even though his quarterback took home the STRONGER award, an accolade Strong earned at the ICC Fortius stop in 2016, he still proved that he might be the best all-around player on the Tigers squad. Strong again tested well, as he always seems to do, but he was even more impressive following testing. He dominated 1-on-1s while lining up at receiver and cornerback.

Perhaps most impressive was his ability to take on much taller pass catchers all day long, while many defensive backs struggled to corral the physically imposing group of receivers.

Calvin Hankins, South Panola

Hankins is more proof that South Panola will always have dynamic players on their defensive line. Much like former Fortius Project All-Combine player O'Bryan Goodson, Hankins used his speed and strength to dominate in the one-on-ones. At 251 pounds, Hankins clocked a 4.51 5-10-5 which is better than severl backs and receivers were able to do.

Austin Morphis, Pontotoc

Tall wideouts were the talk of the day, but Morphis stood above the rest in that category. His combination of size, strength, body control and ability to catch in traffic helped him to regularly wow not only Fortius staffers, but also ICC coaches and fellow competitors. In fact, his full array of talents were on display, as he even wowed himself on a few catches. Following the camp Morphis tweeted “Wasn’t even supposed to happen like that,” referencing a play where he plucked a pass on a crossing route between three defenders.

It appear that things are aligning for the multi-talented Pontotoc star and next season could be a major awakening.

Cameron Gardner, Starkville

Gardner stood a head above other receivers at ICC, from a physical standpoint. However, his hands seemed to be a cut above, as well. Though he isn’t the fastest, Gardner is certainly one of the more polished pass catchers you will find in all of Mississippi. When the ball is in the air good luck battling the Starkville Yellowjacket for ownership of it. He receives the ball well into his body, shielding off defenders with ease, and making catches with his hands.

The Starkville rushing attack is potent, but Gardner could be dominant enough, alone, to make the Jackets a balanced enough team to make a run to the 6A title in 2017.

Kameron Jones, Starkville

Another, of many, impressive Starkville Yellowjackets on hand was offensive tackle Kameron Jones. Long legs, long arms and fierce strength set Jones into his own category in the trenches. Though he was one of the strongest competitors on hand, he posses a lean, athletic frame that screams big time edge linemen on the next level. Each of his peers in the trenches looked to him as the top trench dog on Saturday.

Clark Mills, North Pontotoc

Though he left early to make a baseball game, Clark Mills certainly left his make on the first Fortius Project camp of 2017. It was hard not to stop and stare when he was throwing the football. His spirals were tight and beautiful, and the ball traveled out of his hands with extra zip. Accuracy was another notable skill he displayed Saturday. Whether he was zipping it in to underneath routes, or floating it downfield into the hands of waiting receivers with precision, Mills was a showstopper.

North Pontotoc will have to replace Zay Cullens this season, but with a veteran like Mills in the offensive backfield, don’t expect the Vikings to stop scoring in 2017.

Jaquez Berry, North Pontotoc

Most of the void left behind by Zay Cullens for North Pontotoc will be assumed by Berry, and he showed on Saturday that he is a more than capable athlete. He proved to be one of the smoothest athletes on hand, with nice routes, clean explosion and an ability to find the ball. Not only did he do well in the morning testing, but he was also a standout in the afternoon competitive drills.

He should be one of Mills favorite targets this fall.

Deon House, Grenada

Each and every camper on hand Saturday knew Deon House’s name by the end of the day. His strength and athleticism serve him well as a running back both in and out of pads. While some running backs aren’t as smooth running routes as they are at running through tackles, House showed that he can glide without the ball and with it.

House has totaled over 2,400 yards in his career at a clip of seven yards per carry. He says that 2017 will be his biggest season yet.

Cam Loveberry, Senatobia

One of the more athletic competitors on Saturday was Cam Loveberry. First, he opened eyes in the testing portion of the camp with impressive showings in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and 5-10-5 shuttle drill. He didn’t go away either, as he was also a standout in the 1-on-1s and team drills. Loveberry posses speed, length and plenty of athleticism.

Christian Cain, Grenada

The Grenada Chargers showed up in full force on Saturday, but Cain proved to be the most athletic of the group. He was showed the skills to excel at a number of positions, on both sides of the ball. At an event that was loaded with talented skill players, Cain stood out.

Baylee Trusty, Grenada

In the tug-o-war period, which matched the offensive linemen against the defensive linemen, the o-line was dominant. Each and every time they would win, there was Trusty, proving to be one of the strongest in the trenches at the camp. Before the fun and games, however, he proved he also has the technique to pair with his strength and size to stop any defender in 1-on-1s.

Trusty should be an anchor on the offensive line for Grenada next season as they chase a 5A title.

Jhamauri Johnson, Grenada

If Cain proved to be the smoothest athlete of the group from Grenada, Johnson was certainly one of the best all-around players. His size stood out, but his combination of power, speed and athleticism set him apart. He was a monster in team drills, covering any every skill guy who lined up in front of him. He has star potential and next season should see him emerge as one of the state’s best playmakers.

Juvon Keyes, Northeast Jones

Keyes stood out from the moment he arrived on Saturday, due to his impressive size for a defensive lineman. Then, as soon as he finished stretching, he went at the goal post, jumped, and touched the crossbar of the uprights. After that, he used his athleticism and power to dominate offensive linemen all day long.

Keyes is slated to return to Fortius this coming Saturday at Jones County junior college. It will be a hometown showing for him,

Tyreece Hudson, Northeast Jones

Hudson is also scheduled to return to Fortius this coming Saturday at JCJC to try and get another all-combine medal. It will be hard to stop him, too, after he used this past Saturday as a warm-up of sorts. He was very impressive in the 40-yard dash as he posses phenomenal speed. He would use that speed to dominate 1-on-1s and pass skeleton drills, as well.

Kenneth Martin, Columbus

There was nothing Kenneth Martin could not do on Saturday, it seemed. He showed well in each and every rep he participated in. In fact, he was one of the most clear choices to make the all-combine team. Before the day concluded he even added an offer from ICC.

Look for Columbus head coach Randal Montgomery to use him a variety of ways this fall due to his speed, strength, athleticism and competitiveness.

Patrick Jackson, Columbus

Last season Patrick Jackson showed that he’s more than just a running back. He showed that he can return kicks and punts, as well as catch out of the backfield. In fact, if the ball is in his hands, then look for him to make a play. He played behind Kylin Hill, so next season his workload will increase.

On Saturday he showed that more opportunity will mean much more production in 2017. He was impressive catching the ball and beating defenders all day. He is athletic and confident enough to emerge as one of the state’s best running backs this year, which happens to be a goal of his.

Nickhlous Smith, Cleveland Central

The receivers outnumbered the defensive backs by at least a two to one ratio on Saturday, but that was no problem for Nickhlous Smith. Fatigue was never an issue for Smith, in fact, he got better as the day went on. He made big time plays right before the conclusion of the camp. Smith isn’t a big talker, but he knows how to go get the football or get there and bat it down.

At one point he intercepted a pass and ICC head coach Sean Cannon encouraged him to take it back for a score. He also urged him to show emotion and passion, even in a camp setting or practice, just as he would in a game.

Autry Windham, Falkner

Windham rounds out the quarterbacks on the all-combine team, because he flashed a big, accurate arm on Saturday. It was impressive how he was able to forge instant chemistry with so many receivers that he had never met before. Also, he showed what makes him a successful quarterback, as his leadership skills stand above the average high school football players.

He plans to attend Fortius again on April 22nd when the camp comes to Northeast Mississippi community college.

Keondre Lockridge, Shannon

ICC seems to be the ideal proving ground for the Shannon Red Raiders. The local program produced multiple all-combine members last year when the camp came to Fulton. Lockridge continued that tradition on Saturday. It wasn’t the highlighter green headband he wore on Saturday that helped him stand out. It was his high-level ball skills and athleticism. He is fast and strong, and will be a focal point for head coach Daryell Carter this season.


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