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THE GRIND: South Forsyth's Camp transforming into big-time prospect
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South Forsyth junior Jalen Camp was once a 5-foot-11, 170-pound point guard growing up in the Collins Hill High School district in Gwinnett County. Now he's a 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver and safety that's getting lots of attention from college coaches. - photo by Micah Green

South Forsyth football player Jalen Camp said there isn't an NFL player he looks up to more than Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson, also known as “Megatron,” has a prototypical build that earned him the nickname based on a character from the popular science fiction franchise, Transformers.

Amazingly enough, the moniker might make more sense for Camp.

When Camp was a freshman in high school he was a 5-foot-11, 170 pound point guard for the Collins Hill Eagles in Suwanee. After his freshman year, Camp moved in with his father in South Forsyth's district, where he began to take advantage of his Dad's CrossFit gym. Then he decided he wanted to play a sport he had never tried in his entire life: football.

“There was a lot of hitting on the first day,” Camp said. “I was wondering if this move was right for me.”

It was. The transformation of Jalen Camp is on-going. He now stands 6-foot-2, has added 35 pounds since his freshman year—most of it in muscle—and is so valuable to the War Eagles football team that the coaches have been lobbying for his services on both sides of the ball.

Receivers coach Heath Hover joked that Camp was nothing but a wide receiver, but knows he's going to be a huge part of South's team on both sides of the football.

“He's a game changer for us on offense,” Hover said. “People keep saying defense and trying to get him to switch over, but he's a great receiver.”

Evident in his highlight tapes online, Camp's jump ball ability and physical build made him a tough cover last season as a junior.

“Going up for a rebound and going up for a fade route are pretty much the same,” Camp said.

Despite his value as a playmaker on offense, where he will continue to play as a senior, Camp is learning on the fly again this summer. He's transitioning from a part-time outside linebacker, where he played last season, to a strong safety—mainly because Division I schools are already offering for his services, even though he's only played football for two seasons. Camp has reeled in offers from Liberty and Illinois State, which played in the FCS National Championship this past season, but those schools want him as a defensive thumper. Georgia Tech and Mercer have also kept a close watch.

South head coach Jeff Arnette isn't the least bit surprised.

“He works like a dog in the weight room,” Arnette said. “He's still learning the game as he goes, he's only played a couple of years, but the top end for him is crazy. I truly believe he's a D-I football player.”

Camp admitted he thinks defense is more fun.

“I like hitting people now,” Camp said.

When asked if he was the hardest hitting player on the team, Camp tried his best to hide a smirk, but said, “Yes sir.”