Arkansas commits Nash, Gregory ready for No. 1 IMG's big clash

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: September 20, 2018 at 12:33 p.m. - Updated: September 19, 2018 at 7:02 p.m.
Shamar Nash
Shamar Nash

— Two Arkansas football commits will play Friday night in a matchup of two of USA Today’s top three teams nationally that could leave the winner in position to win the high school national title.

Wide receiver Shamar Nash (6-2, 198) and defensive end Eric Gregory (6-3, 260) are two Razorback 2019 pledges that will lead No. 1 IMG Academy (3-0) into a matchup at No. 3 Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei (3-1 including a forfeit).

IMG has won its last 39 games, a streak that dates back to a August 29, 2014, loss at St. John’s of Washington, D.C., while Mater Dei has won 19 consecutive games.

“That matchup is going to be crazy,” Nash said. “We have a pretty good team, they have a pretty good team, so we are not going to underestimate those guys. We are just going to come in and play ball. We expect to come out on top, but I am not going to come out and speak any ill will about those guys because I am sure we will get their best also.”

The game will be televised on Prime Network - available via DirecTV, Dish and Sling TV - and on the FoxSports Go App and begin at 9:37 p.m. CST.

IMG Academy got humbled in a preseason scrimmage by Lake City, Fla., Columbia. The Ascenders trailed 30-13 at halftime in what was dubbed the Kickoff Classic and eventually fell 33-30.

“That game was crazy,” Nash said. “Guys didn’t expect them to come out and play like they did. I think we could have easily beaten those guys, but everybody wasn’t on the same page. We were believing our hype. Now everybody is on the same page.”

IMG Academy has bounced back to whip Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland 42-0, Miami (Fla.) Norland 49-14 and Henderson (Nev.) Liberty 35-0.

“As a team, we got humbled during the preseason game,” Gregory said. “We started working harder after that and everybody came together, got stuff clean and started winning games. We've won three in a row and hope to continue that against Mater Dei.”

The IMG Academy defense features Arkansas commit Gregory, Georgia 5-star defensive end commit Nolan Smith, Florida State linebacker commit Jaleel McCraw and Michigan linebacker commit Charles Thomas.

“I knew if I came here I would be playing with other great players like Nolan Smith,” Gregory said. “We have been dominant since the regular season started.”

Both Nash and Gregory were committed to other schools before flipping to Arkansas with Nash having originally pledged to Missouri and Gregory to hometown Memphis.

Nash had offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, Memphis, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee before deciding on the Razorbacks.

Gregory, who has not yet been on the Arkansas campus, chose the Razorbacks over LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee and Memphis.

Nash said he thought it would be a good fit for Gregory, who teamed with him at Memphis Central before making the move to IMG.

“I am happy he took my word for it,” Nash said. “I just told him that it was a school with great coaches, really good facilities. It’s not like I am telling him anything false. He will see it for himself. It is a really amazing place.

“I couldn’t be happier that he and a lot of other top guys are going to be there with me.”

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.