Rodney Williams is never one to back down from a challenge.
After starting a local recruiting network geared towards helping high school football players get scholarships, the former Rockdale County graduate had hopes of instituting an All-American bowl game where players could display their talents in front of coaches.
Last year, in what Williams named the Elite Raw Talent All-American Bowl, his did just that. While most of the games’ participants either had offers or were committed prior to the event, 10 lucky athletes received college offers immediately following the action.
“The biggest and most exciting thing for me is seeing kids come in with no offers, compete with some of the top kids in the country and leave with some scholarships,” Williams said.
Last year’s game was held at South Cobb High School in late December. By January, Williams was already setting up an All-American game for 2019 in hopes of making it an even bigger spectacle.
The first change Williams wanted to make was the location. The game has been moved to nearby McDonough High School and will be held on Dec. 28. On top of William’s senior All-American game, he will also introduce the first sophomore game, Georgia vs The Word that will also be held on the 28th.
“I think the biggest difference will be making it more of a college level experience,” Williams said. “We will have more meetings and I think we’re going to take them to the civil rights museum. We want to give them a different experience that they won’t have back home. We’re making it like a vacation, but a business trip at the same time.”
Williams’ decision to move the game to McDonough High School was an easy one, he said.
“McDonough is a brand new high school,” Williams said. “They just built it this year. It’s a good area right down the street from the Tanger Outlets. It will be good for the parents because it’s about 30 minutes away from Atlanta. I think this will be a better location.”
Another big addition to this year’s action will be the states represented. After pulling from mostly the southeast last year, Williams has received signups from kids spanning as far west as California.
“Last year, we had zero west coast kids,” Williams said. “This year, for the senior game, we’ve got a kid coming from California and a kid coming from Arizona. Of course, we’ve got kids coming from Pennsylvania and I just had a kid from Iowa sign up. We’re trying to expand that.”
For the sophomore game, William’s reach grew even further.
“We have a quarterback on the world team from Canada and his dad is a CFL coach,” Williams said. “We’re trying to expand it as far as possible to make it a real All-American experience. I think it’s going to be really big.”
In the senior game, several local athletes will be represented.
“In the senior game, we’ve got Diondre Glover, Robert Lewis, Jerrol Hines, Natorien Holloway and Darren and Darnell Stephens,” Williams said. “It will kind of be the same as last year as far as kids coming from every school. The only difference this year is that we have Newton kids, but no Eastside kids.”
Williams also hopes to have at least two locals competing in the sophomore game.
Partnered with Phenom Elite, a growing sports apparel company in the southeast, players will sport pink uniforms in dedication to breast cancer awareness, a cause Williams is very close with.
“This year, I think the biggest thing as far as a difference is that it’s going to be a breast cancer awareness game,” Williams said. “My grandma beat breast cancer twice and my God mom died of breast cancer. I’m doing it to represent them and also to support the people who are fighting breast cancer now and the ones that have beaten breast cancer.”
Players will be fitted with brand new jerseys, pants and gloves designed by Phenom Elite.
“The designed everything,” Williams said. “We’re getting gloves, arm bands, sweat suites. Phenom Elite just did a deal with the Arena Football league, so we’ll look similar to the arena league as far as the quality of uniforms goes.”
Just under two months away from the event, Williams said he’s ready to knock their second annual All-American game out of the park.
“I’m very excited,” Williams said. “I’m always nervous. If you’re not nervous then I feel like that means you don’t care about it. It’s a nervous feeling because I’m working hard to make sure everything goes well. I just can’t wait to see some of the best athletes come and compete.”