Cedar Grove talent looks ready to repeat

Cedar Grove High School’s football team had three rising seniors commit in June and July to play college football at schools across the country, and several other players are receiving major college interest.

Cedar Grove quarterback Austin Smith was the first of the three players to commit, announcing his commitment to Eastern Michigan University June 28.

Smith is a multi-year starter at quarterback for the Cedar Grove Saints; Head Coach Miguel Patrick said he expects Smith to take the offense to the next level this coming season.

Smith was fifth in DeKalb County last season in total passing yards—with 1,523 yards—and tied for second for total passing touchdowns with 19.

Defensive back Antonio Taylor was the next Saint to commit by deciding to further his football and academic careers at Southeast Missouri State University.

Taylor was tied for second in DeKalb County in total interceptions last season with five.

Defensive back and athlete Jordan Grier is the most recent Saint to make his college plans official by committing to Indiana University.

Grier was tied for first place in DeKalb County in total fumbles caused with six.

Last season, Taylor and Grier helped lead a Saints’ defense that was first place in DeKalb County in tackles for loss, second place in quarterback sacks, second place in total tackles, first place in tackle assists, first place in interceptions and in the top three in fumbles forced and recovered.

Cedar Grove also has uncommitted players receiving college interest, who Patrick expects to play major roles this season.

Austin Smith (4) receives a snap before handing off to Rashod Dubinion (7) during Cedar Grove’s state championship.

Two of those will be among Cedar Grove’s biggest offensive weapons in rising juniors Janiran Bonner and Rashod Dubinion.

Bonner holds offers from Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Arkansas and others, and Dubinion holds offers from Mississippi State, Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida State and others.

On defense, Kayin Lee and Christen Miller have both raked in offers since the end of last season.

Following his freshman season, Lee received offers from Georgia Tech, Florida State, Arkansas, Tennessee and others.

Miller—as a rising junior—had one of the biggest off seasons for Cedar Grove, reporting offers from South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and others.

Miller, Dubinion and Bonner also received offers from reigning national champion LSU.

However, Patrick said he believes he would have even more players with college offers if not for the pandemic.

“I think the pandemic has hurt our recruitment, because we have some sleeper guys who coaches don’t really know about yet and haven’t really seen them play,” said Patrick.

Patrick said he and his coaching staff are trying to remedy the lack of camps and spring practices by pitching their players to more college coaches and coming up with new recruiting tools.

“I’m pitching our guys and sending out recruiting lists to just about everyone in the nation,” Patrick said. “I’m trying to get some of our conditioning and weightlifting stuff on film, so coaches can see how [our players] move, how quick their feet are, how strong they are, and stuff like that.”

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