Generals’ Binion invited to compete in Blue-Grey All-American Bowl

QUICKSBURG – Drew Binion is in the midst of preparing for his senior season with Stonewall Jackson High School’s football team, which started preseason camp on Monday and kicks off the 2017 season in three weeks. But Binion is also getting ready for what figures to be the biggest game of his life to date, which will take place about a month after the conclusion of the Virginia High School League’s football season.

Binion, the Generals’ starting center and defensive tackle, learned a couple weeks ago that he has been invited to participate in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, on Jan. 13.

The game is one of four such contests being held by Blue-Grey Football in December and January and will feature some of the top high school football talent from the class of 2018. Those selected to compete in the game are chosen from over 6,750 players across the country who competed in regional combines or were nominated by Blue-Grey Football staff.

“I was shocked because there’s a lot of people there and I got selected,” the 6-foot-3, 295-pound Binion said following Stonewall’s football practice Thursday morning.

The specific Blue-Grey All-American Bowl that Binion will take part in will be played at EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and will be broadcast on ESPN 3. Two other Blue-Grey games will take place in Dallas and another in Tampa, Florida.

The coaching staff for the Blue-Grey contests features a lengthy list of former NFL players, including Randall Cunningham, Mike Alstott and Brian Dawkins.

“It’s gonna be crazy because it’s gonna be nothing like playing in a high school stadium,” Binion said.

The game will serve as the culmination of a two-step process for Binion, who received an invitation to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Combine on April 9 at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond. Those who performed well enough there were invited back to Richmond for the Mid-Atlantic Super Regional Combine on June 3-4.

It was at the Mid-Atlantic Super Regional that Binion showed enough to warrant inclusion in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl. According to results posted on Blue-Grey Football’s website, Binion, who competed alongside eight other defensive linemen at the combine, posted the third-fastest 40-yard dash time (5.07 seconds) and the second-fastest shuttle time (4.35) in the position group.

An online report on Binion written by Blue-Grey Football media director Sean Ceglinsky stated, “With a motor that did not stop, the 6-3 and 280-pound senior turned heads.”

Binion was one of 16 players from Virginia to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Super Regional Combine, which featured 56 players from Virginia, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. Binion was the only player from a VHSL Class 1 school.

“Drew Binion has the potential to do anything he wants,” said Stonewall Jackson first-year head football coach Pete Lampman, who coached linemen for the Generals in 2016. “He’s big. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s got all the tools. It’s really up to him.

“The sky’s the limit as far as he’s concerned, it’s just how much work he wants to put into it. So far, so good. He worked out all summer. He got stronger. He got faster. He’s been a leader out here so far this preseason and I expect that to continue.”

Lampman said Binion is “on the radar” of nearly every NCAA member school in the state. Binion said coaches from Virginia Tech, James Madison and Richmond visited him at school last winter, and Lampman added Virginia Military Institute and William & Mary to that list.

Binion said he has yet to receive any scholarship offers, and Lampman said he won’t know how strong schools’ interests in the senior lineman are until the end of the season. The Blue-Grey All-American Bowl could certainly offer a boost to Binion’s prospects of playing football in college. According to information included in Binion’s invitation packet, over 85 percent of Blue-Grey All-Americans earned football scholarships over the last three years.

It also provides a bit of positive energy for a Stonewall Jackson program that went 0-10 in 2016 and has won just five games over the last five seasons.

“I think it shows that Stonewall Jackson, as down as it’s been, has the ability and can produce good athletes, good football players,” Lampman said.

The Generals kick off their 2017 season with a home game against Strasburg on Aug. 25. Binion will enter his senior season with a little extra motivation.

“It just makes me wanna play harder and earn a scholarship,” he said.