January 18, 2008

Receiving corps reloads with upcoming class

Troy offensive coordinator Neal Brown inherited more than a new position when Tony Franklin resigned the job.

Brown also finds himself with quite a bit of talent at the wide receiver position in his charge. Players such as Kennard Burton, Mykeal Terry, Jerrel Jernigan, Austin Silvoy and Andrew Davis all contributed to the Trojans' high-flying, spread offense last season.

But the new offensive mastermind is not standing pat. Brown has three verbal commitments from receviers with more than two weeks to go until the Feb. 6 signing date.

Felton Payton from Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) High was the first to commit. In fact, he got his decision over with early. He told coaches he was going to sign with Troy after last summer's camp.

He does have some ties to Troy already. Two former Vikings played for Larry Blakeney during the Trojans' days in Division I-AA, wide receiver Scott Holz and fullback Daniel Griffin. Holz' career was cut short after his freshman year when he sustained serious injuries in a car accident, but Griffin lettered at Troy from 1993-96.

Griffin now serves as the strength coach at FWBHS.

"Payton is kind of different than most receivers," Griffin said. "I can't keep him out of the weight room and in most cases you can't get a receiver in the weight room."

The strength of the 6-foot-2, 187-pounder is only one asset he will bring to Troy. The Vikings run a spread offense similar to the Trojans' to give four years of experience in it.

His senior season, Payton caught 30 passes for 335 yards -- an 11.2 yard average. He also caught three touchdowns for the school which also produced Heisman trophy winner Danny Wuerrfel, former Florida State star E.G. Green and current Alabama fullback, Glen Coffee.

Payton is not the only expected newcomer with an impressive lineage. Junior College receiver Tebarius Gill has two impressive schools in his background.

Gill is a graduate of Vigor High in Pritchard which sent one of the most exciting players in its history to Troy. Kelvin Simmons quarterbacked the Trojans to the I-AA semifinals in 1993, then went on to be the most valuable player in the Blue-Gray All-Star game.

Gill will come to Troy from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. Former Bobcat receivers include Javon Walker of the Denver Broncos and Deion Branch of the New England Patriots.

He is a Rivals three-star talent who was also courted by Auburn, Florida State, Southern Miss and Louisville. So far JCJC has sent 11 players from last year's team to Division I-A schools.

Gill, 6-3, 200, caught 35 passes this season
for the Bobcats as they finished 8-2. The only two losses of the season came to the hands of Mississippi Gulf Coast which won the Junior College national title. MGCCC is sending Cedric McKinley to Troy for next season.

Rounding out the wide receiving class to date is Charles "Chip" Reeves of Stone Mountain, Ga.

He only played six games his senior year due to an injury, but still caught over 700 yards worth of passes. Several north Georgia media members consider him the most underrated player in the state this year.

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