Avery Showell became the 18th commitment of Georgia Tech’s 2017 recruiting class when he committed on Sunday, January 22nd — just a few hours after Kelton Dawson’s commitment, and a few hours before a third commitment of the day following a weekend of official visits. Showell is listed at 6’1”, 192 pounds, and comes to Georgia Tech from Cartersville High School in Cartersville, GA. He committed to the Yellow Jackets over offers from Minnesota, West Virginia, Wake Forest, and several others. Showell is rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals (5.6) and the 247Sports Composite (0.8320).
Showell’s highlights might be some of the most fascinating I’ve ever seen, considering he’s listed as a defensive back (by recruiting sites), has the size of a defensive back, and seems to play...defensive end?
That’s at least how it looks, but there’s more to the story here. Showell played both cornerback and safety through his junior year at St. Francis High School in Alpharetta, before transferring to Cartersville for his senior year. The move represented a step up in competition (St. Francis is in Class A, while Cartersville is in Class AAAA) as well as a step up in visibility from team success (St. Francis is 5-15 over the past two seasons in a lower division, while Cartersville went 15-0 and dominated every opponent en route to a state title in 2016).
All of that, to say this: Showell has experience playing in the secondary and the physical gifts to resume doing so, and his position move for his senior year was probably to keep things simple for him in a new defensive system.
Let’s start with his senior year highlights, against higher levels of competition. We’ll also take a look at his junior highlights after that.
As mentioned, Showell contributed defensively from a defensive end-esque role his senior year at Cartersville. He often played out of a two-point stance, and used his speed, agility, and bend to wreak havoc in opponents’ backfields. His comfort with stopping the run and playing in the opponent’s backfield will help at the college level, even if he’s used as a defensive back again.
Also very much worth noting here, in my mind, are Showell’s contributions on offense. As a wide receiver, Showell consistently shows excellent ball skills, athleticism, and vision. While it’s not easy to gauge speed in high school, Showell regularly is able to create separation from the defense with his speed, acceleration, and vision.
The other thing he consistently shows is a level of physicality beyond what you’d expect from a player who weighs under 200 pounds. Whether squaring up and tackling, carrying the ball, or blocking, Showell doesn’t shy away from contact and willingly initiates.
Alright, first things first: from his junior highlights, it’s very obvious why Showell wanted to step up and play at a higher classification. At 6’1” and under 200 pounds, Showell regularly looks like one of the biggest players on the field. It’s as if he’s playing in a JV league or something. It does bear mentioning, though, that Showell dominates the competition in the way that you would expect a Power-5 prospect to do against lower-tier competition. That’s commendable.
As for specifics within his highlights, Showell was showing consistent physicality while at St. Francis, dishing out several huge hits to separate wide receivers from the ball. He does pretty well in zone coverage, which is the primary assignment he’s shown in from the safety position. Offensively, he also continues to show excellent ball skills and vision.
Between his two sets of highlights, there are a couple of things that stick out to me that Showell will need to work on if he’s going to play in the Yellow Jackets’ secondary. The first is consistency in tackling technique. Showell makes all sorts of impressive tackles using his athletic superiority compared to a lot of his competition, and he showed a knack as a junior for really laying the lumber to opposing receivers. That said, those things tend to be less repeatable at the Power-5 level and could cause him to miss a lot of tackles in college. The other thing is, for a defensive back prospect, even his junior year highlights didn’t show a ton of his play in coverage, and especially not in man coverage. Showell does a decent job in zone coverage, but probably isn’t good enough there to play a free safety role where he’s looked to as a “center fielder”. In general, his coverage abilities are a huge question mark based on the highlights embedded above.
What to Expect
There’s a lot to like about Showell’s ability to contribute at Georgia Tech, but it’s hard to say where he’ll fit in — and it may not even be on defense. The assumption is that he’d fit best in a strong safety or nickel corner role, but it’s totally unclear as to whether his coverage abilities would be sufficient for those spots. He seems to play his best in the box, either causing havoc in the backfield or generally playing the run. (If you think about it, that sounds more like a linebacker.)
You also saw in high school that he can really contribute in space on offense as well, and I wouldn’t rule that out either. Showell is a really good athlete with strong ball skills that could one day find himself playing wide receiver or A-Back on the Flats, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit.
I don’t see Showell playing defense as a freshman, while Georgia Tech has depth at safety and when the coaches may need some time to figure out where he fits best. That said, I’m genuinely curious to find out where he does settle in and how he contributes, and I won’t be surprised if he’s called on to play special teams from the start. His athleticism and vision could really fit well in kick or punt coverage out of the gate, as long as tackling isn’t an issue.
Showell has a lot to offer, and there’s a very real chance he becomes a playmaker for the Yellow Jackets, whether on offense or defense.