Saturday at the Junior Bowl, some very talented young men will go at it on the gridiron to show their stuff against the best in the state of Georgia. Several of those players have been preceded by family members who have made it to the ultimate level of their chosen sport.
Two of those players who have a famous relative are the Blaylock brothers. Their natural father, Mookie Blaylock, played for the Hawks for several years. However, the twin brothers play football, not basketball, for Walton High School and start at the two safety positions. And they happen to be very good at it.
“In a lot of ways they remind me of Jermaine Phillips (former Roswell, UGA, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back),” said Walton head coach Rocky Hidalgo. “They have that ability when they hit someone, they always knock them backwards.”
Hildalgo has enjoyed benefitting from having the brothers in his secondary for a full year.
“On the field, they’re terrific tacklers,” said Hidalgo. “They’re two of the most physical defensive backs I’ve seen in high school football in a long time. They do a great job of limiting big plays and keeping people from getting those easy touchdowns on us.”
They not only excel on the field, but they are also stars off it for the Raiders. The Blaylocks are solid in the classroom and as leaders at Walton.
“They’re both very good young men,” said Hidalgo. “They’re good students, they don’t go out looking for trouble. They’re very high-character kids. They’re a great example for all of our players.”
The two well-rounded young men will suit up in today’s Junior Bowl and are looking forward to going against some of the state’s best.
“I’m really excited,” said Daron about the Junior Bowl. “Just to hang out with a bunch of recruits and play with them, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
BROTHERLY LOVE …
Being brothers, Daron and Zack are compared to each other quite often. And, being athletes, they compete against each other in almost everything. The coaching staff at Walton uses the twins’ competitiveness to motivate them in practice and during conditioning.
“They can be hard on each other,” said Hildago. “It’s kinda funny. We pit them against each other all the time (in drills). And we give them a hard time about who’s the better football player, who’s smarter than the other, who’s better looking, and things like that. They’ve got a good rapport with one another and I think they’re very good friends.”
Despite almost always being together and competing against each other, the pair doesn’t seem to mind. Zack thinks it is perfectly normal for brothers to be perpetually battling.
“We’re very competitive,” Zack said. “We’ve been competing our whole lives. We’ve been on the same teams and have challenged each other. It’s basically natural.”
Daron not only seems to feed off the competition with his brother, he actually prefers it.
“Yeah, I like (competing with Zack),” he said. “He may be smaller but he can hit hard. We’re even when it comes to (playing) safety. It’s fun to see who’s going to win when we compete.”
RARE TALENTS …
The brothers, whose natural father is former NBA star Mookie Blaylock, are already drawing attention from major college scouts after completing their first years as starters. But despite being twins, they are not projected to play the same position in college.
“All the schools we’ve talked to say Zack’s perfect for safety and I’m most likely going to move to linebacker,” said Daron, who will play linebacker in today’s game.
Zack has proved his wares at safety, and led Cobb County this year in interceptions, ahead of Tennessee commitment Brian Randolph of Kell. To the free safety prospect, this was a major achievement.
“It was pretty neat because I’ve always compared myself to Brian Randolph,” said Zack. “He’s a top recruit in 2011 and when I found out I had more interceptions, I felt pretty accomplished.”
While Zack will likely play safety at the next level, Daron may have to switch positions. College recruiters have told the slightly heftier Daron he will fit better at outside linebacker. But he won’t mind the switch.
“I’ll adapt to whatever (position),” said Daron. “I’m a coachable person.”
Thus far in the process, Kentucky and Louisville have offered the twins as a package deal while many other colleges are showing significant interest. It is only a matter of time before more offers fill the mailbox at their East Cobb home. Aside from the two schools that have offered scholarships, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Ohio State are among those that have shown significant interest.
But despite the massive interest in the twins, they likely won’t keep colleges waiting long for their pledge.
“They’re not the type of kids that would enjoy that type of process,” said the twins’ stepfather, John Woods. “They really want to commit somewhere this summer and enjoy their senior year. They’re humble kids and I think they would look forward to making a decision.”
With interest coming from such high-profile schools, it would be normal in the world of recruiting for some programs to pursue just one of the twins. Not in this case. Every recruiter thus far has stated their interest in both Daron and Zack. And the twins won’t have it any other way.
“Yeah, we’re pretty sure we’re a package deal,” Zack said about potential college destinations.
Wherever they end up, the Blaylocks will compete hard against each other off the field, and then knock around rival players together on it.