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February 12, 2014

Stevens shows he's an early one to watch

FRANKLIN --- Jacoby Stevens might have been one of the youngest prospects in attendance last week at the Playmakers Academy elite 7-on-7 tryout camp in Franklin, but Stevens never played like it.

The rangy, athletic prospect who started to gain some notice last year as a freshman at powerhouse Ensworth was undaunted going against some of Tennessee's best skill players in the 2015 class.

"I think showed my ability to use my eyes and deception and also use my strength," said the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Stevens, a Class of 2017 prospect. "And I think also showed how to burst out into all my cuts and my explosion. I picked up a lot of things today in the drills as well."

Stevens, who's been training with Playmakers and In Full Motion in Nashville, pointed particularly to some battles against heralded '15 defensive back Ugo Amadi, who now boasts eight Division I offers after picking up one this week from MTSU.

"Especially, Ugo Amadi. I like to go against him because I know he's really good. I try to put myself in different positions and he's still always giving me a run for my money, so I like just things like that," Stevens said. "People already with offers makes me hungry, makes me want to get better."

Stevens already is garnering attention from major college programs, and he's seen coaches from Tennessee, Vanderbilt and myriad other programs at his school.

"I've gotten letters, Georgia, Louisville, Penn State, Vanderbilt," he said. "Those are the only ones I can think of right now."

Stevens, however, is motivated for much more --- despite his youthful status on a day in which Tennessee commitments Dorian Banks and Jaylond Woods, as well as highly regarded '15 targets Amadi, Josh Smith, Cameron Ordway, were among those providing competition.

"You can't use age as an excuse. There are a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are from big high schools starting, and there's freshmen and sophomores in college," Stevens said. "So you can't always say I'm a freshman, I can lay back. You've always got to go hard.

"I'd say it was a good performance, but I noticed I still have work to do --- a lot of work to do. Like my footwork, still getting faster and understanding how to run the routes."

To that end, Stevens will continue working on his game --- on and off the field --- while also evaluating more schools as interest increases.

"I love that, I think that's the best part of the game being a student and being able to learn the game," he said. "You can have all of the physical attributes in the world, but it takes the IQ to be able to be one of the best.

"For right now, I'm still going to be coming and working with the IFM family and Playmakers and focusing on my grades a lot. The grades are what matters. Just getting better, getting better all around."

Stevens was considered one of the top-performing wideouts last weekend in Nashville and is an early candidate to be one of the state of Tennessee's top prospects in the '17 class.


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