AA

Athens Academy junior Deion Colzie was invited to the 2021 U.S. Army All American Bowl.

Two of the area’s top football players have been recognized as two of the top football players in the country.

Prince Avenue Christian School junior Brock Vandagriff and Athens Academy junior Deion Colzie was were both named to the 2021 U.S. Army All American Bowl in San Antonio. Their commitments to the game came under very different circumstances. Colzie, noticed 247 Sports Rusty Mansell on the sidelines of the Spartans’ practice last Wednesday and had zero inkling of why he was there. Mansell surprised Colzie with his invitation to San Antonio following practice in front of the entire team.

“I didn’t know why he was here to be honest,” Colzie said. “When he brought us all up, I kind of had a feeling. I didn’t know until he said.”

Colzie, who is a Notre Dame commit, has always placed the individual accolades and things regarding his recruitment in the background during football season.

“I really don’t think about it too much, my main goal to just go through my season and make sure my team is right first,” Colzie said. “I just take my recruiting second and I don’t really stress too much about that during the season. It’s definitely an honor with these things that come along with football.”

Mansell complemented Colzie during his presentation on being a player that had never once asked him about his ratings throughout the process.

Colzie’s natural talent is easily spotted. It made it easy for to get on the radar for the game, his unselfishness and business-like approach to the sport made him one of the early targets to attend take part in the game.

“There are a lot of guys that have that type of frame and athleticism, but it’s who he is that separates him we think,” Mansell said. “We think the ceiling is so high for him. We think he’s an elite kid.”

Vandagriff was invited in the spring. He didn’t plan on attending and had no idea of the magnitude of the event.

It wasn’t until a conversation with Georgia native, and current Oklahoma wide receiver Jadon Haselwood that Vandagriff took a step back and decided to accept his invitation to the game.

Vandagriff had turned his attention to being an early enrollee at OU and didn’t want the opportunity to practice with the Sooners during their bowl practices. Haselwood warned Vandagriff of moving on from high school too quickly.

“He said its’ the experience of a lifetime, don’t pass that up,” Vandagriff said. “He said while you’re in high school, do high school things. I took that into perspective and committed when I got back home. Just from all the good stuff they’d said about it.”

Colzie and Vandagriff are the latest in a growing hot bed of football talent in the area. Len’Neth Whitehead and Max Johnson are both four-star recruits on multiple recruiting sites. Athens Academy junior Hugh Laughlin has garnered attention from the college ranks over the last year. Oconee County High School sophomore Jake Johnson has multiple Power Five offers already.

The invites to the nation’s premier all-star game gives Colzie and Vandagriff a little bit of pride in their area. There is a statement to be made about the level of athlete that resides in the county.

“This area is trying to tell everyone that we play hard knock football,” Colzie said. “We come out here and compete with the best. We’re just trying to put Athens on the map and make sure everyone doesn’t take it for granted.”

Where they are from pushes both Vandagriff and Colzie. Vandagriff admits that going to camps there’s a chuckle when he tells people where he’s from.

“When people ask where I go to school and I say Prince Avenue and they start chuckling and asking where that is and what is that,” Vandagriff said. “I say ‘it’s a single A Christian school in Athens’ and they start laughing more. Then when the camp starts, they don’t laugh about it very much. Then the talent takes over and the work takes over.”

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