Baylor’s Whit Muschamp, Amari Jefferson among top prospects to watch at BlueCross Bowl

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor quarterback Whit Muschamp, with ball, spots fellow junior Amari Jefferson (7) during a Nov. 11 home game against Memphis University School in the second round of the Division II-AAA playoffs. Both players are among the top college prospects who will be at Finley Stadium over the next three days for the BlueCross Bowl, the TSSAA's nine-game football state championship event.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor quarterback Whit Muschamp, with ball, spots fellow junior Amari Jefferson (7) during a Nov. 11 home game against Memphis University School in the second round of the Division II-AAA playoffs. Both players are among the top college prospects who will be at Finley Stadium over the next three days for the BlueCross Bowl, the TSSAA's nine-game football state championship event.

Shortly after Baylor School announced his hire as head football coach last winter, Erik Kimrey's cellphone began to buzz with congratulatory calls and text messages. The buzzing never let up through the hours of that early February day as more than 500 well-wishers reached out.

But one in particular caught Kimrey's eye. A text from University of Georgia assistant coach Will Muschamp asked the simple question, "Do you need a quarterback?"

Both of Muschamp's sons had played for and won two state championships for Kimrey at South Carolina's Hammond School. The younger son, Whit, who had taken over as Hammond's starter midway through his freshman year in 2019 and led the team to a title, had missed much of last season with a collarbone injury.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Muschamp not only had plenty of potential but was also already familiar with Kimrey's offense, making him a natural fit.

"Of all these guys we'll have on the field, Whit's the only one who's played in a championship game," Kimrey said earlier this week. "It was incredibly important having him transfer in here to lead our offense. We have expanded the playbook since the last time he played for me, but having that familiarity with the guy leading the offense made the transition much smoother.

"He throws an unbelievably catchable ball, but he can also zip it when he needs to. He's incredibly accurate, consistent and makes elite throws with defenders barreling down on him. Whit's greatest asset, other than the ability to throw the ball, is his mindset is unflappable. Whether it's a good play or bad, you get the same guy on the next down."

Since transferring to Baylor, Whit has lived up to the potential by throwing for 2,935 yards and 27 touchdowns, and his grasp of the offense has helped lead the Red Raiders to the TSSAA Division II-AAA BlueCross Bowl for the first time in 11 seasons.

Baylor (10-2) will face Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy at 7 p.m. Thursday at Finley Stadium, with the Chattanooga program seeking its first state title in 49 years.

"The first day I came here, everyone welcomed me with open arms," Muschamp said. "It was a really easy transition. And since I already knew a lot of the offense, I was able to help the other guys know the routes.

"But the biggest help is having guys like Caleb (Hampton), Amari (Jefferson) and some of our other guys who can make our offense really tough to stop."

Hampton is a senior running back and a Tennessee Titans Mr. Football finalist, while Jefferson — who has 1,169 receiving yards, averaging 18.3 yards per catch, and 10 touchdowns — is one of the state's highest-rated prospects for the 2024 signing cycle, according to 247Sports.com.

There will be 19 of the state's top 100 prospects for the class of 2023 and another seven from the class of 2024 competing in this week's BlueCross Bowl title games at Finley. That includes six from either Baylor or MBA.

Because this is Muschamp's first year in Tennessee, he was not ranked among the state's top prospects before the season began. But over the course of the fall, he has picked up scholarship offers from Missouri, Louisville and Appalachian State, and he is being heavily recruited by Vanderbilt.

"We're fortunate to have several guys who seem eager to show out in big-game settings and who really study the game," Kimrey said. "A few weeks ago Amari texted me about how we should run a certain route the way he noticed in the Georgia-Tennessee game. He walked us through it later at practice, and we wound up using it in the semifinals for about a 50-yard gain.

"You need guys like that if you're going to compete with the teams in our league. One of the best things about Whit and Amari and a few others is that we'll have them again for another season."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.


ONES TO WATCH

The BlueCross Bowl at Finley Stadium will include some of the state's top college football prospects; rankings are from 247Sports.com's top 100 seniors and top 50 juniors in Tennessee, with player's high school, height, weight, position and college commitment (if known).

CLASS OF 2023

5. Brycen Sanders (Baylor), 6-5, 280, OL, Ole Miss

10. Marcel Reed (MBA), 6-1, 175, QB, Ole Miss

13. Jeremiah Collins (Oakland), 6-2, 160, ATH, Louisville

19. London Humphreys (CPA), 6-2, 195, WR, Vanderbilt

26. Brandon Solis (Lipscomb), 6-7, 255, OL, Uncommitted

27. Tyler Jeffries (Alcoa), 6-5, 298, OL, Indiana

28. Evan Haynie (Baylor), 6-0, 175, CB, Princeton

29. Marquez Taylor (McKenzie), 5-1, 170, ATH, Uncommitted

32. Hank Brown (Lipscomb), 6-4, 195, QB, Liberty

33. Bryson Vowell (Anderson County), 6-4, 185, WR, Uncommitted

35. Lance Williams (Alcoa), 6-4, 305, OL, Virginia Tech

38. Jordan Harris (Alcoa), 5-10, 170, RB, Uncommitted

41. Alan Young (MBA), 5-11, 185, DB, Uncommitted

45. Anthony Boggs (Baylor), 6-4, 270, DL, Duke

46. Bryan Longwell (Lipscomb), 6-1, 225, LB, Uncommitted

47. Junior Sherrill (Lipscomb), 5-10, 175, WR, Vanderbilt

61. Gavin Noe (Anderson County), 6-2, 220, LB, Navy

64. Bo Burklow (CPA), 6-3, 230, TE, Coastal Carolina

76. Nate Spillman (Lipscomb), 6-1, 195, WR, Tennessee


CLASS OF 2024

1. Kaleb Beasley, (Lipscomb), 6-0, 185, CB, Tennessee

2. Edwin Spillman, (Lipscomb), 6-1, 215, LB, Uncommitted

7. John Wayne Oliver, (CPA), 6-5, 275, OL, Uncommitted

16. Ondre Evans, (CPA), 6-0, 185, ATH, Uncommitted

17. Amari Jefferson, (Baylor), 6-1, 190, WR, Uncommitted

29. Stephen Ellison, (Oakland), 5-11, 185, DB, Uncommitted

30. Crews Law, (CPA), 6-1, 205, LB, Uncommitted


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