Gridiron Gryphons Take Flight

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Gridiron Gryphons Take Flight

Junior Isaac Smith catches a pass in warmups before the Gryphons’ game against Northpoint.

Junior Isaac Smith catches a pass in warmups before the Gryphons’ game against Northpoint.

Evan Dorian

Junior Isaac Smith catches a pass in warmups before the Gryphons’ game against Northpoint.

Evan Dorian

Evan Dorian

Junior Isaac Smith catches a pass in warmups before the Gryphons’ game against Northpoint.

By Evan Dorian, St. George's Independent School

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“I’m looking forward to making sure everyone in the city knows my name after this season.”

That’s what junior receiver Isaac Smith had to say about what he hopes this football season holds for him. Gryphon football is back, and with it a new season of recruiting for several players on the team.

Currently, four football players are already being scouted by college football programs, and they’re engaging with those colleges in conversations about their future. Each of those four players has received at least one offer to play football at the collegiate level.

Senior receiver Justin Bray has long been part of the core of the St. George’s football program. As he’s leading the varsity high school team on the field, he’s balancing the pressure, excitement and magnitude of the recruiting process off the field.

“Balance is something I was taught by my dad,” Bray said. “From balancing work and coaching, to making it to all my school functions and games, he always found a way to get everything done. So balancing the three can be difficult at times, yes, but I always find a way to get it done.”

Bray recently received a scholarship offer from Mercer University in Macon, Ga. He’s also been offered by Princeton University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, the University of Tennessee at Martin and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Bray and fellow senior Spencer Smith (no relation to Isaac) make a dynamic duo on the field with Spencer at quarterback, leading the offense. Spencer has been in touch with several schools as well, and has received offers from UT Martin and Western Illinois University.

In regards to his college decision, Spencer is looking at the present and toward the future.

“I’m trying to go somewhere where if I get hurt or something I would still love the school I’m going to,” he said. “Somewhere where I can get a good degree, because sadly football does eventually end.”

While Spencer is focusing on the practicality of his future, he’s also enjoying the thrill of the recruitment process.

“The most exciting thing is knowing I have the chance to play a sport for four more years, especially one that I’ve loved playing ever since I was a little kid,” he said. “Knowing that there’s someone acknowledging all the hard work I’ve put in is really exciting.”

Spencer’s receiving corps is headlined not only by Bray but also by Isaac Smith, who, as a junior, has some recruiting experience already. Like Justin and Spencer, Isaac has been offered by UT Martin, and he’s corresponding with several other schools about his future as a college athlete.

With plenty of time to make his decision, Isaac knows that using his time wisely at school helps ease the stress of the recruitment process.

“Managing my time is something I’ve been practicing since 6th grade so that’s really not a concern for me,” Isaac said. “St. George’s did an awesome job preparing me to know how to manage my time and get my work done.”

However, Isaac recognizes that being recruited can also introduce stress into a high school student’s life.

“Recruiting makes you very anxious as well, but you have to just trust the process,” Isaac said. “I have complete confidence in my ability, and I know I’ll end up at a great school.”

Like Isaac, senior lineman Jacquavious Pryor trusts in his ability to secure his future as an athlete. He prefers not to dwell on the stress of the process, but rather work hard for the reward of being recruited.

“I really just focus on school when I am in the classroom and doing some extra studying at home but I just let the recruiting process handle itself,” Pryor said. “I try not to focus on that right now and just focus on football and school.”

Pryor has been offered by the University of Arkansas at Pine-Bluff, Belhaven University and Tufts University. For him, the most rewarding part of the recruitment experience is finding the right way to secure his future with the right people.

“[The best part is] hearing from these coaches and the relationship that you build with them,” he said. “And getting to see them talk to my family and make sure it is a place that they can see me at.”

St. George’s football players are clearly making an impact on the recruiting scene, and in order to bolster their résumés for college, they’ll be putting in as much effort as possible into this season.

“Football is more than a game,” Bray said. “It’s a vehicle for your life and I’ve really learned that in the process.”

This story was originally published on Gryphon Gazette on September 12, 2018.