SUWANEE, Ga. (20 August 2009) – The second annual Progressive Football Challenge will feature the top-rated prep football player in the country when it kicks off at North Gwinnett High School on Aug. 29, according to the rankings announced by The Sporting News. Marcus Lattimore, a 6-foot, 207-pound senior at Byrnes (S.C.) High School, was listed as the No. 1 player in the Class of 2010 in the recent rankings released by the national publication. Lattimore, who rushed for 2,300 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior, was already widely acclaimed by most experts as the best running back in the nation.
His Byrnes squad, which scored a 36-21 come-from-behind victory over North Gwinnett High last year in the inaugural Challenge, will battle Central Gwinnett High in this year’s opener that begins at 5 p.m. and will be telecast by Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS). Host North Gwinnett will face three-time defending state champion Prattville (Ala.) High School in the Saturday evening nightcap. Progressive Insurance, a market leader in car insurance, returns for the second consecutive year as title sponsor of the event.
"This event provides a great opportunity for us to support these talented players and the local community," said Jerry Rett, Progressive product manager. “It also allows us to connect with fans in a new way about all of the products we insure: cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats, and trucks, to name a few.”
While Lattimore headlines the on-field talent rankings, Byrnes also features a pair of senior defensive stoppers that are ranked among the best in the country. Brandon Willis, a 6-4, 255-pound defensive tackle who lists Cal, Fla. State, North Carolina, Tennessee and UCLA among his five college options, and Corey Miller, a 6-3, 231-pound defensive end who has committed to Florida State and is rated #26 in the nation at his position, helped lead Byrnes to a Preseason No. 1 ranking in 2008. Byrnes quarterback Chas Dodd recently committed to Rutgers while Lattimore has listed his final five as Auburn, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State and South Carolina.
Two North Gwinnett linemen have already committed to Southeastern Conference power Alabama. JaWuan James, a 6-6, 285-pound tackle who’s rated No. 8 at his position nationally and teammate Austin Shepherd, rated No. 12 among offensive linemen, have both announced their intentions to play for the Crimson Tide.
Prattville makes its first appearance in the Showcase. Nick Perry, a 6-2 safety rated No. 40 by Scout.com, will join James and Shepherd at Alabama next season, while quarterback Sam Gibson has given his commitment to LSU.
“We established this event with the intent to become the premier event in Georgia, but with the type of teams we’re attracting and the level of talent showcased on the field, we are quickly becoming one of the nation’s most-watched events,” said North Gwinnett Head Coach Bob Sphire. “The young men we’ll see here battling at the Challenge will be playing on Saturdays for major college football programs, and eventually, on Sundays in the NFL. I predict this will be a tough ticket.”
Once again, a standing-room only crowd of 10,000 is expected for the event. Tickets, priced at $15 each, are available in the main office at North Gwinnett High School, located at 20 Level Creek Road in Suwanee (weekdays 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.). Tickets also can be purchased on-line at www.NGFootball.org. For corporate packages, please contact BEST Collegiate at 859.264.8020. Complete event information can be found at www.NGFootball.org. For media inquiries, please contact Jon Albaugh at jalbaugh@experienceBEST.com or 859.264.8020.