N.Georgia teams bringing more ‘blue-chips’ to Dome

You may have noticed of the 10 schools in the Georgia High School Association state championship games this weekend at the Georgia Dome, half are from schools south of Macon and half are from north of that. However, the majority of “blue-chip recruiting prospects” participating in the state finals are from the five North Georgia schools: Buford, Calhoun, Clarke Central, Gainesville and Sandy Creek.

My buddy Todd Holcomb over at Georgia High School Football Daily pointed this out to me in a recent e-mail exchange about which areas of the state are producing the most top-shelf  football players. We both found it odd, and certainly not in keeping with Georgia tradition, that there aren’t really any major prospects among the five South Georgia teams.

Other than Northside-Warner Robins defensive back Brison Williams, a South Carolina commitment, I can’t find much in the way of “major prospects” among the South Georgia teams. Camden County has running back Ean Days, a fine player for sure but one of whom hasn’t generated a lot of recruiting interest. Wilcox County has a highly-regarded junior in dual-threat quarterback Nick Marshall. Now I’m not as familiar with a lot of the South Georgia rosters as I am those in the north, especially with regard to underclassmen, but I just don’t see as many heading to major colleges out of those schools.

Meanwhile, you’ve got a five-star recruit and the state’s top overall prospect in Calhoun wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers (Georgia), plus quarterback Nash Nance (Vanderbilt). Buford has three SEC commitments in FB/LB Jessel Curry (Auburn), OL/DL Kolton Houston (Georgia) and OL/DL Du’Von Millsap (South Carolina). Sandy Creek features Isaiah Johnson (Georgia Tech), Rajion Neal (Mississippi State) and Jarret Davis (Louisville). Gainesville’s has four D-1 commitments: QB Blake Sims, (Alabama), WR Tai-ler Jones (Notre Dame), S Daunte Carr (Stanford), and junior LB A.J. Johnson (Tennessee). Clarke Central has a couple of hot 2011 prospects in QB Martay Mattox and OL Alan Posey.

Holcomb also pointed out that among the top 20 prospects in the state for 2010, only two are from south of Macon: Jeffrey Whitaker (uncommitted) of Warner Robins and Ed Christian (Auburn) of Lowndes County. Lowndes linebacker Telvin Smith is No. 21.

Looking at the coaches’ all-conference teams that have been released in the last week or so, of the 19 Georgia players that made first- or second-team all-conference from the BCS conferences (ACC, SEC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10), only six came from South Georgia.

How to explain? Of course, the majority of the state’s population resides in the northern half of Georgia, including a whopping 5 million plus in Greater Atlanta. But Todd and I still found the dearth of South Georgia talent somewhat surprising. Is it fading or just less publicized?

Following is a list of the coaches’ all-conference players. Let me know what you think about all this. And please point out any South Georgia standouts I may be overlooking.


  • LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina (North Cobb), 1T
  • S Eric Berry, Tennessee (Creekside), 1T
  • P Drew Butler, Georgia (Peachtree Ridge), 1T
  • WR Darvin Adams, Auburn (Harrison), 2T
  • T Chris Scott, Tennessee (Lovejoy), 2T
  • T Clint Boling, Georgia (Chattahoochee), 2T
  • DT Malcolm Sheppard, Arkansas (Bainbridge), 2T
  • DE Jermaine Cunningham, Florida (Stephenson), 2T
  • LB Rennie Curran, Georgia (Brookwood), 2T
  • RET Warren Norman, Vanderbilt (Chamblee), 2T


  • WR Demaryius Thomas, Georgia Tech (West Laurens), 1T
  • G Sergio Render, Virginia Tech (Newnan), 1T
  • RB Jonathan Dwyer, Georgia Tech (Kell), 2T
  • DT Allen Bailey, Miami (McIntosh County Academy), 2T
  • S Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech (North Clayton), 2T

Big 12

  • DL Brandon Sharpe, Texas Tech (Toombs County) 1T

Big Ten

  • DL Cameron Heyward, Ohio State (Peachtree Ridge) 2T
  • DB David Pender, Purdue (Charlton County) 2T
  • RB Ralph Bolden, Purdue (Charlton County) 2T

Pac 10

  • None

Big East

  • None.

43 comments Add your comment

Bremen Dawg

December 10th, 2009
9:44 am

Bremen Dawg

December 10th, 2009
9:48 am

5 for the ACC, you see where the players want to go if they want to have a better chance on going to NFL, SEC all the way.

What do you do when other teams come to Georgia and steals recruits? Go to Florida and steal theres.


December 10th, 2009
9:50 am

Brandon West (from Camden County) of Western Michigan recently became the FBS career yardage leader. Most of this good work was done on special teams but he has started the last year or so at tailback also. Interesting topic…

saw smith play too

December 10th, 2009
9:53 am

it is called grades, kids dont have them down south.


December 10th, 2009
9:56 am

What about Chas Henry from Florida…..he was all conference wasn’t he? East Paulding graduate


December 10th, 2009
10:22 am

if they want a job after they wash out in the NFL (72% do) they go to an ACC school.

Calhoun Fan

December 10th, 2009
10:37 am

Kedron Aker – UAB
Cody Ralston – Cent Fla


December 10th, 2009
10:49 am

Missing Greg Reid at FSU from Lowndes


December 10th, 2009
10:54 am

Think that Vanderbilt Commit from Fitzgerald–Robby Pruitt will be good….Cameron Erving FSU recruit from Colquitt County will do well. UGA offered 0-lineman for 20011 class from Colquitt County a couple of days ago. UGA has Israel Troupe #28 from Tift County..up and coming receiver..caught big TD pass from Cox this year…UGA has Vance Cuff #25 played nickel back and started a couple of games in secondary -4.4 speed..but has to work in tackling skills.


December 10th, 2009
10:55 am

Cuff is from Colquitt County


December 10th, 2009
11:01 am

That would be Daunte Carr, not Culpepper.


December 10th, 2009
11:08 am

79% of nfl pros broke 2 yrs. out of league-how does that break down by conference? & how many of these kids come from places like around GT that our opponents blog is a”ghetto”,,”digusting slums”(they don’t mind if you play ball for them)…


December 10th, 2009
11:11 am

also, more #1 picks from acc than sec in recent years..

Todd Holcomb

December 10th, 2009
11:11 am

Just wanted to point out that the all-SEC and all-ACC teams that I researched were the coaches’ teams. The AP has a few other Georgia natives, including Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt of Greene County, Kentucky CB Trevard Lindley of Hiram and Kentucky LB Sam Maxwell of Hart County.

Also, to MoDAWG, good list of some top South Georgia players. You meant to say Trenton Pruitt fro Fitzgerald. Robby is the father and head coach.

To address the issues in Chip’s blog, my guess is that population is by far the main reason there are more prospects north of Macon. The real question might be why is there a disproportionately high number of South Georgia teams in the finals most years. The answer is coaching, community support, tradition. They also tend to have a lot of very good athletes. Having 30 good players is better than having 15 good and 2 or 3 great players.


December 10th, 2009
11:30 am

I guess those Georgia recruits don’t want to win Championships, enjoy your day in the Dome boys because you won’t be playing there for 4 years and most of them never again.


December 10th, 2009
11:38 am

Bremen dog…yes 10 went to SEC and 5 to ACC,but 3 went to GT and 3 went to ga.and as far as I can tell the 3 that went to GT are the 3 BEST.


December 10th, 2009
11:41 am

It doesn’t matter if you are from the SEC or the ACC. If you are talented enough to play in the NFL and you put the work in you will make it. The big key is putting the work in. Most of these kids don’t graduate before going to the NFL. Some come back and finish others don’t. It is interesting to note that more players come out of north Ga than south Ga but that could be due to nothing more than the current population. More people live in north Ga than south Ga therefore you have more prospects. That’s not hard to figure out.


December 10th, 2009
11:45 am

I saw Calhoun play Lovett the other night, and they are a well rounded team. A lot of solid players all around. Rogers is a freak of nature, but is very, VERY cocky. I am anxious to see him go up against a top tier cornerback in the SEC. As for Nance. I had heard a lot of good things about him, and he did have a very good pocket presence. BUT, I was thoroughly unimpressed with his passing ability. Especially on the deep ball. He under threw and overthrew quite often. Most of his passing yards came on little five screens to Rogers. I think that without #21, he wouldn’t be as touted. But he is going to VANDY…. I had heard that Rogers’ grades were very poor; does anyone know if this is true?? I have heard it several times from different people, but none of them are direct sources.


December 10th, 2009
12:08 pm

Peach Co
WR Lamar Zanders 3 star
WB Patrick Taylor 3 star
RB Travis Richmond (top JR)

DB/WR Brison Williams (South Carolina commit)
DB Brandon Brown 3 star
RB Shaquille O Neal (top JR)

Camden Co (very young team)
RB Ean Days 3 star

Wilcox Co

QB Nick Marshall ( top JR)
WR Lonnie Outlaw 3 star
WR Tay Porter ( top JR)


December 10th, 2009
12:12 pm

So is the point of this article that the gameday coaching must really stink in metro?


December 10th, 2009
12:13 pm

The population is one reason. A direct effect of that is that kids in South Georgia don’t have as many infrastucture benefits, like competitive recreation leagues, also South Georgia is a financially depressed part of the state even in the good times so there is not as much booster money coming in at the high school level for fancy and high tech facilities and weight rooms. Also not a lot of these kids or their parents can afford to send them to football camp where they can get noticed.

Coach Dooley and Coach Goff used to recruit South Georgia pretty good and come up with some “diamonds in the rough”, so to speak and in Dooley’s case coach them up.

Auburn and FSU seem to pick up a few good ones every year.

Gerald Ball

December 10th, 2009
12:23 pm

Before the population explosion, most of the better college athletes came from south Georgia: Garrison Hearst, Herschel Walker, Buck Belue, Shawn Jones, Charlie Ward, etc. As a matter of fact, as recently as the 1990s, Georgia Tech got a lot of players from Thomasville and Albany like Joe Burns and Daryl Burns, and that was also when Georgia got Charles Grant from Bainbridge.

Those players are still down there. It is just that the players keep getting overlooked in favor of the Atlanta players, who offer a higher density of athletes in a smaller region. Back when Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn and FSU needed those players to be competitive, they got them. A lot of the players on those Georgia Southern teams who won I-AA national titles, meaning that they were guys good enough for I-A, were from south Georgia too. Now, those athletes are still there but not getting the opportunity.

IMHO, this is the main reason why there needs to be more football programs in the state, and why they need to be spread out over the state instead of all concentrated in the Atlanta area. Alabama, which has like half Georgia’s population, has not only Auburn and the Tide, but also two mid-major programs in Troy and UAB. North Carolina has 5 programs: Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and East Carolina. Even Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi have two majors plus a mid-major.

It is good that Georgia State is starting up a program and Kennesaw State is looking into it, but again those are north Georgia programs that are going to be more likely to stick to the Atlanta area than trying to locate the good athletes that are still in places like Albany, Valdosta, Thomasville, Bainbridge, Cairo, Americus etc.

Chip Towers

December 10th, 2009
12:45 pm

jcwfalcon: No, gameday coaching was not the point of this article but you could make that argument. Just going back through 2000 when they started Class AAAAA, there have been more state championship teams from South Georgia (27) than North Georgia (18). And that’s with me considering Lincoln County (two titles) a North Georgia team, which may not be correct.

Here’s the way I have the state champions broken down since 2000:

AAAAA: South 5, North 4
AAAA: South 5, North 4
AAA: South 8, North 1
AA: South 5, North 4
A: South 4, North 5 (Lincoln Co. accounting for two)


December 10th, 2009
12:56 pm

Todd, your last sentence in your post sums it up pretty good. A great example of this would be the two teams in the AAAAA title game, Northside and Camden Co. You can win championships with a team who has better than average players at all the skill positions rather than a so-so team with one or two outstanding players. You can normally shut one or two players down but not a whole team. Also, on the lighter side, I think a lot of those college recruiters don’t like to venture into South GA because of the gnats, skeeters, snakes, and mean Mothers.


December 10th, 2009
1:30 pm

Don’t you believe that the lack of appeal for the south Georgia players may stem from the lack of adequate media coverage? In the southeast, Florida media doesn’t cover the players, Metro Atlanta doesn’t cover the players, and there is no other major media outlet available. Just a thought.

Coach Lame Kitten

December 10th, 2009
1:36 pm

Hey 5-Star Recruits….

..just let me know if you need any “company” this weekend, and I’ll send some of my women over.

Don’t listen to dawg fans, UGA is a thug-wanna-be school. UT is where the real THUGS come to play.


December 10th, 2009
1:39 pm

Camdenite, I agree with your comment. The coaches do a good job of getting the kids looked at, but as far as the media is concerned, the Jacksonville news stations that cover us really don’t help us.


December 10th, 2009
1:51 pm

GT Vet,
The 3 that went to GA Tech may be the best, but they will still have a losing record against UGA. I believe the last class at GA Tech that had a winning record against UGA was the class of 2000.


December 10th, 2009
1:53 pm

Bet Breman Dawg is a short order cook at the local Waffle House.


December 10th, 2009
2:01 pm

Rogers head is swelling so big it is going to pop off.

Big Tyme 21

December 10th, 2009
2:26 pm

Kids from south Georgia always get over looked when it comes to talent in basketball or football . When I was coming out of high school I wasn’t recruited highly like the Atlanta area kids. I played against them all the time either during AAU, camps or during the season. I was a 6′8 225 pound forward, I averaged 16 points 10 rebounds as a senior at Peach County High. I got totally over looked because I came from a small high school. I ended up making it D-1 by going to a JUCO in Kansas called Cowley County for 1 year, I ended up playing for Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma. But I know how us South Georgia boys get over looked. Its all good, because most of the State Champions in football are usually from South Georgia with teams that doesn’t have many D-1 prospects. I guess scouts love being around Atlanta and not in the country.

Barron Rhodes

December 10th, 2009
3:50 pm

Somebody need to take a look a outstanding DE(Deron Rhodes) out of Stone Mtn. High School. Higlight reel can be view on Youtube(Deron Rhodes 2009 football highlight reel).


December 10th, 2009
4:32 pm

You left off Brett Upson 2nd team Punter from Griffin,Ga


December 10th, 2009
5:54 pm

Mr. Ball – Daryl SMITH was an under-hyped LB at Dougherty HS in Albany and enjoyed a stellar career as a GT Jacket as well as Jax Jags – and I agree with your post.
What a sad attempt at an article. An undertone that all the really good and sought after players are here in Atlanta area seems to be the theme. And here I was thinking all this time that teams won games and not the teams with the most hyped players. Poor little South GA football ( just wondering which teams play for the AAAAA championship this weekend???) .


December 10th, 2009
6:20 pm

To all you N. Georgia teams. Keep your selfish DIV-1 prospects. I’ll take a bunch of average team players and bring home a State Championship. Stephenson is a prime exampleamong many. How many state championships do you have vs. your hyped D-1 prospects. All of the N. Georgia D-1 prospects are because of their exposure to the AJC daily. Thats why S.Geaorgia teams bring home the gold on their fingers, not around their necks or teeth.

Gerald Ball

December 10th, 2009
6:26 pm

Chip Towers:

Lincoln County, which gave us Garrison Hearst among others, is a SOUTH Georgia school. Granted, the “north Georgia/south Georgia” line is rather vague, but still … have you been to Lincolnton? Does that strike you as anything resembling the Atlanta-Athens-Augusta area (which by the way would be a single metro area if this backwards state would ever build a rail line … Georgia should have built a rail line connecting Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah, Albany, Americus, Tifton, and Valdosta right after the Olympics but hey you just don’t get better political or economic leadership than you find in Georgia … hey I know, let’s tell the UGA fans that if we do that it will help Mark Richt’s recruiters find players to help them beat Florida, and for the voters who don’t care about UGA, let’s propose a trade … we get the rail lines and you can get your Confederate battle insignia back on the state flag … how about it guys!)

Ugh. Anyway, it just shows how lazy so many of these college recruiters are. It also shows priorities. Mark Richt is a Florida guy (though truthfully a carpetbagger from Nebraska) so he puts a lot more effort into stealing a few 4 star hot-dogging showboats from the sunshine state, from Florida, FSU and Miami, than getting Georgia kids. Jim Donnan did a better job recruiting rural Georgia than Richt.

I was hoping that Paul Johnson would make a run at those players since he coached at Georgia SOUTHERN, but he is doing the same thing … sticking with the metro Atlanta kids. It really makes no sense, and UGA and Georgia Tech are losing out on a lot of kids that could help them beat the higher profile programs.


December 10th, 2009
7:02 pm

All of the 19 kids listed in your story 14 are from AAAA or AAAAA schools, and the remaining 5 are from AA schools. AAAA/AAAAA compete at a higher level, the level of BCS conference talent. The talent pool of larger AAAA/AAAAA schools provide bigger and stronger talent than the kids from A/AA schools. Some A/AA kids will be fast and quick, but rarely are they fast, quick, and large (200+ lbs) like the larger schools in the state.

Your list has more North Georgia teams because that is where most of the larger schools are located in the state. Each classification, A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA, has 8 regions, and some regions are split into A and B.

There are 29 AAAAA/AAAA/AAA teams from South Georgia. Regions 1 and 2 from these three larger classifications represent South GA. These are good sized schools with a higher number of students, increasing the chance that there will be big/fast kids on their teams. I didn’t include Savannah because Savannah is in a non-football world of its own, and shouldn’t really be considered South GA.

I didn’t actually count the North Georgia teams from AAAAA/AAAA/AAA, but if you say 6 regions, times 3 classifications, time 9 teams, that’s 162 teams. That’s 162 teams from the big classifications with that many more kids to choose from who will play football. There are 1/5 the number of large South Georgia schools than large North Georgia Schools.

1AAAAA Lowndes/Valdosta/Colquitt/Coffee/Tift/[NSWR/WR/Houston moving to AAAA next year]
2AAAAA Camden
1AAAA Westside/TCC/Bainbridge/Sumter/Lee
2AAAA Brunswick/Ware/Glynn/Statesboro/WayneCo
1AAA Peach/Cairo/Monroe/Worth/Crisp/Dougherty/Westover/Perry
2AAA West Laurens/Liberty

From the 2 smaller classifications, A and AA, you’re going to have fast kids and occasionally the large and fast kid. Examples of those are Marcus Stroud from Brooks County, Charles Grant from Miller County, Champ Bailey from Charlton, and that Faison kid from Toombs. It’s just harder to find legitimate BCS Conference talent from the smaller pool of kids from the South GA schools.

20% of the large schools are from South GA. 25% of the BCS blue chippers on your list are from south Georgia (albeit the ones on that list are from AA South GA schools this year). Those percentages are really close. The higher percentage of large schools in North Georgia is the reason why there are more blue chippers from North Georgia. I don’t think it has anything to do with recruiters overlooking them. If they are good enough they’ll get recruited.

Also, SAT scores are generally lower in the boonies….at least in the mid 1990’s they were. We had a few burners from 1994 to 1997 and none of the sub 4.5 40 guys went to college. They probably didn’t even take the SAT. I think things have evolved and kids from small towns are a little smarter these days.


December 10th, 2009
7:11 pm

I consider the North/South Georgia line going from Columbus, through Macon, to Savannah. We definitely didn’t play a South Georgia team after we drove 6 hours to beat Lincoln Co in the ‘94 playoffs.


December 10th, 2009
7:21 pm

CPJ has not just recruited ATL kids. This year’s and last year’s recruiting class included Jemea Thomas from Fitzgerald, Lanier from ECI, Holton from Thomasville, Burnett from Westside, Macon, a lineman from Valdosta, 2 guys from Jefferson County, Watts from WACO, and guys from other states. I’m just glad he’s recruiting GA kids more than Gailey. Go Jackets. Keep beating the so called “higher profile programs.”

bee shabazz

December 10th, 2009
8:39 pm

Brian: That’s why N. Ga players go to college instead of the SYRUP FACTORY, WAFFLE HOUSE, COTTON FIELDS or whatever it is yall do down there to put ROADKILL on the table. Please keep it real sir, there are more GOLD TEETH WEARING, JHERI CURL HAVING, DOUBLEWIDE LIVING, PICKUP TRUCK DRIVING, BACKWOODS COUNTRY BUMPKINS down there in S. GA. than in the whole state of MISSISSIPPI!


December 11th, 2009
9:43 am

bee shabazz i guess you have never been to SOUTH ATLANTA! i would rather live in a doublewide than the projects! the country schools where i come from , produce lots of talent have the best facilities in the state …..period


December 11th, 2009
3:56 pm

Atlanta blue-chippers are overrated. North Gwinnett has two “blue-chip” offensive tackles and Camden County DL abused both of them. Let us not forget those blue chipppers at Stephenson in 2002, Reggie Ball, TJ Gatrell, Route, Lumkpin so-called blue chippers. The south is putting people in College, that’s the point of it all.

talent-rich South Georgia

January 1st, 2010
5:10 am

Maybe if South Georgia teams were covered more, recruiters would be able to see the talent. One problem is that Ean Days of Camden is listed in the prospect lists as running a 4.74 forty. In reality, he runs in the 4.45 to 4.5 range. How can he get any serious looks unless scouts see him in person? You can look all day in Georgia, and you won’t find a better all-around back than Camden’s Ean Days. How can Camden win 3 state titles in 7 years and not have comparable talent of a Stephenson(which Camden has beaten twice) ? The schools in the Fulton and Dekalb areas are predominately black, and recruiters flock to those players. You would think that Atlanta had a monopoly on talent when in fact, Camden has just as good of talent(black, white, and brown) that is obviously coached up to the best of their abilities. If Coach Herron didn’t send out a highlight reel of the Camden seniors, none would get any exposure. We sure can’t depend on the AJC and their writers to show Camden County any love.