One of the benefits of playing for a powerhouse football program with some major college prospects as teammates is it tends to get other good players noticed as well.
North Gwinnett linebacker Brandon McGowan is just such a player. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior is just starting to gain some of the recruiting attention previously directed at the Bulldogs’ big senior tackles, JaWuan James (undecided) and Austin Shepherd (Alabama), and junior quarterback sensation C.J. Uzomah.
“It HAS picked up,” McGowan told me when I visited the Suwanee school earlier this week. “It has actually improved quite a lot lately.”
McGowan said he’d gotten very little attention prior to this season. But starting late this summer, he has heard from Clemson, South Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Kentucky and Georgia, among several other smaller schools. He actually took a trip up to Wake Forest earlier this year.
Last weekend McGowan and Uzomah accompanied coach Bob Sphire on a trip to Kentucky. This week he and Uzomah are heading to Georgia for the LSU game along with with wide receiver teammate Justin Dickens.
“I’ve always wanted to play college football,” said McGowan, who plays strongside outside linebacker for the Bulldogs. “As I’ve played through the years I’ve seen it become more and more of a possibility for me.”
His performance against Prattville (Ala.) High in the season opener helped. McGowan played a big role in hemming up Prattville’s LSU-bound quarterback Sam Gibson as North Gwinnett stymied the Alabama reigning state champions on regional television. McGowan was named Defensive MVP of the game.
“I haven’t really been to camps,” he said. “I’ve just been doing some things here. We do a lot of 7-on-7 in the summer. And Georgia high school football is like playing in the SEC. It is in the region we play in anyway.”
McGowan, who sports a 3.7 GPA, clearly is a smart young man. Asked if he had a favorite school he’d always hoped to go to, he said, “no sir.”
“I like all SEC and ACC schools,” he said quickly. “I like all of them so much it’d be my dream to go to any of them.”
Standing nearby, Sphire was pleasantly surprised by McGowan’s answer.
“I haven’t had a chance to coach him up on that either,” he said with a laugh.
North Gwinnett is likely to have other beneficiaries as well. Dickens, a wide receiver whose season got off to a slow start due to a having his appendix removed early in the preseason, is taking a visit to UCLA. And seniors such as WR Cordero Dixon, LB David Park, DE Jon Gibson-Green, SS Trey Sims, FS Will Compton, DE Ayo Ojolola and OG Aaron Lanzo have either gotten small-school and/or mid-major offers or are at least communicating with college recruiters.
“It does help everybody to have guys like that on your team,” Sphire said of James and Shepherd. “But you still have to be able to play. You have to show them something.”
McGowan most certainly has done that.