Is LB James Vaughters really the top prospect in Atlanta?

I’ve written a couple of things this week about Tucker linebacker James Vaughters, who pared down to five on Wednesday a list of college scholarship choices that started at 35.

I’ve often referred to Vaughters as “the top prospect in Atlanta” and I wouldn’t have written that if I didn’t believe it. His combination of athletic and academic prowess make him tough to beat for that distinction.

But, lest we forget, such things are highly subjective and that’s just my opinion. And there are tons of excellent college football recruitings coming out of Atlanta in the Class of 2011. I can think of five off the top of my head that could be considered “the best in Atlanta.”

Who is the top college football prospect in Metro Atlanta?

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  • WR Christian Conley, North Paulding: This 6-foot-3, 185-pound athlete is one of the metro area’s top play-makers and had more than 800 yards receiving at upstart North Paulding High. He ran a 4.42 40 and was named MVP over Scout combine this spring. He committed to Georgia over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Stanford and Tennessee
  • DE Xzavier Dickson, Griffin: All the “big boys” are vying for the services of this athletic 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end. He had 94 tackles and 12 sacks as a juniior last season and actually plays a mean tight end. He has offers from everywhere but right now says he favors Alabama over Georgia, Georgia Tech, Auburn and Florida.
  • LB A.J. Johnson, Gainesville: Johnson was a tackling machine for the Red Elephants as a junior last season and might be even more of a threat as a rusher from the defensive end position. If Vaughters is 1A among metro linebackers, this 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is 1B. A former Tennessee commitment, he still likes the Vols as well as Alabama, Georgia Tech, LSU and Southern Cal.
  • CB Damian Swann, Grady: Swann is expected to play cornerback in college but he is truly the consummate “athlete,” playing quarterback and wide receiver on offense and returning kicks on special teams. This 6-foot, 175-pounder has double-figure offers but seems to be struggling between Alabama and Georgia.
  • QB C.J. Uzomah, N. Gwinnett: At one point, nobody seemed sure if Uzomah was going to play quarterback in college. But nobody is wondering anymore after he led the Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season and deep into the playoffs. All his double-figure offers are as a quarterback. But at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds — and still growing — the luxury is Uzomah could still play almost anywhere.

Again, that’s just my opinion. Like I said, there are many more choices. And you could even argue what constitutes “Metro Atlanta” and add or take away names depending on your determination.

So let’s hear from you guys on this subject. In the meantime, be sure to click on the poll.

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109 comments Add your comment


May 21st, 2010
4:51 pm

Delbert D.

May 21st, 2010
5:04 pm

I’d say Vaughters. 4.0 GPA.


May 21st, 2010
5:08 pm

Dickson in my opinion. Big and extremely athletic.


May 21st, 2010
5:11 pm

one vote for AJ / the next great LB at Tennessee
who will replace the hard hitting Nick Reveiz


May 21st, 2010
5:11 pm

What about the CB, Swann? The premium for top talent at the corner position must give him some leverage in the argument.


May 21st, 2010
5:20 pm

There’s a linebacker down at North Clayton who is pretty darn good. As a matter of fact, quite a few consider him a better prospect than the LB from Gainesville. Can’t disagree with the others.


May 21st, 2010
5:23 pm

Love to see Swann and Dickson stay in state and represent the state they live. Lot of hype about these two guys and think UGA has potential for a phenomenal class if these guys stay home and a legitimate shot for a NC. Regardless, figure out where it feels like home and best wishes Good luck to all the recruits and stay healthy. Go Dawgs!


May 21st, 2010
5:30 pm

Vaughters is the complete “package”. Hes an exceptional athlete, great academics and, from what it seems, great parents. All of these guys are real good and I would love to see them all at UGA but heres my thoughts:

Vaughters: I think he’ll end up at UGA joining the “Dream Team” being assembled

Dickson: Probably going to be UGA once all is said and done due to Alabama over flowing at quality DE’s.

Johnson: I have nevr heard one negative word about this kid but there must be something there for anyone to commit to Lamo Kiffin and then to still be considering going to USC to play for Ed, Lame and Monte. USC

Swann: I think in the end he will go UGA as yet again, Alabama is absolutely loaded at yet another position.

Uzomah: Jeesh, this kid is a senior QB and 6′6″ 240??? Not sure where he ends up but Auburn runs the spread just like North Gwinnett and there I can’t imagine any college coach in America that wouldn’t want a QB that has great skills and INCREDIBLE size.

Conley: this kid saw the light early and has already chose UGA.

Curious though, Chip you seem to continously throw affection towards Carvells columns but you didn’t even mention Isaiah Crowell after Carvell just wrote an article yesterday about him.

Anyway, the state is busting at the seams with top shelf talent this year and it will hopefully lead to some great football moments soon enough.


May 21st, 2010
5:40 pm

You’re absolutely right hunkerdown. These GA athletes should be loyal to our great state. There’s no doubt that we’d dominate the nation at will if we could get these youngsters to remain here. It’s true that we can’t keep them all but we should be more selective in the process of recruiting. GO DAWGS!!!!!

The Sham

May 21st, 2010
5:46 pm

I’d say Dickson is the most desirable as he seems like the most prepared to step in and produce at a legitimate level of a high ranked football program. Seems like the others may get there but a year after he’s already made his name… IMO

@ Chip – if these are the best in the ATL, who is the best in GA? My answer would still be the same, but what about yours?


May 21st, 2010
5:47 pm

UGA’s still after Toby Jackson? I will say one thing – they are persistent. Getting him in to school is hsrd enough but keeping him there will be a full time job.


May 21st, 2010
5:54 pm

what about Corey Moore? I know he’s from Griffin but isn’t that still considered greater Atlanta?


May 21st, 2010
6:28 pm

There is so much talent in the state, particularly this year (2010). If the “Dream Team” continues to improve, good things lie ahead for UGA and the state pride. What if there was a dream team every year, with the cream picking the state university? I would guess the country would ask about our water! It boils down to just great athletes being coached by competent coaches, and the level of competition at most high schools.
Congratulations to these young men on the coming season and on picking where they will spend their college careers. Hopefully, they will join the concept and truly make a DREAM TEAM!!


May 21st, 2010
6:30 pm

he is a yellow jacket, bank on it….

Frank Lane

May 21st, 2010
6:49 pm

Why does there have to be a top prospect?


May 21st, 2010
7:00 pm

The best linebacker in Clayton County, resides at Mt. Zion, even North Clayton knows that!

Captain: There’s a linebacker down at North Clayton who is pretty darn good. As a matter of fact, quite a few consider him a better prospect than the LB from Gainesville. Can’t disagree with the others.


May 21st, 2010
7:03 pm

UGA has a “Dream team” every year

Dianne in Resaca

May 21st, 2010
7:08 pm

“Vaughters: I think he’ll end up at UGA joining the “Dream Team” being assembled.”

Every year, we get this Dream Team crap from UGA fans because of the Top 5 or Top 10 recruiting class or whatever. And then it all turns to dust, like in 2008 with the preseason #1 ranking or last year when the Dawgs couldn’t even beat Kentucky or Oklahoma State.

Keep on dreaming. UGA isn’t going anywhere until they can beat Florida, and that’s not going to happen while Mark Richt is head coach.

Chip Towers

May 21st, 2010
7:22 pm

Dawggie: You need to read a little more carefully. These are prospects from Atlanta. Crowell — who I rate as the top overall prospect in the state — lives in Columbus.

Chip Towers

May 21st, 2010
7:24 pm

Doug: As one of the six I discussed in the blog, Damian Swann was intended to be in the poll. I’ve since added him. My bad.


May 21st, 2010
7:28 pm

Wish Vaughters would stay in state, but my gut feeling from what I’ve read, makes me think he will end up at Stanford. I just think he wants to play FAR AWAY from home.

Chip Towers

May 21st, 2010
7:29 pm

The Sham: In my “Tentative Top 10″ I published back in February my top five in order were Isaiah Crowell, James Vaughters, Nick Marshall, Jay Rome, Gabe Wright.

UGA delusions

May 21st, 2010
7:44 pm

Dream Team… lmao!

DAWG in Denver

May 21st, 2010
7:47 pm

Thanks for the “Best in Georgia” answer Chip. I live an awful long way from South Georgia but I like what I’ve seen of Nick Marshall. I wish he would come play basketball And football for the Dawgs.


May 21st, 2010
8:22 pm

“Dream team”…don’t little league baseball teams refer to themselves as such? Any smart recruit won’t buy into silly pitch titles.

Of course Grantham doesn’t have anything else to pitch.

Recruit: Coach Grantham what can you teach me better than coach Al Groh who has a Super Bowl ring and many college years of teaching his 3-4?

TG: Well, even though the only DC position I held only lasted 2 years, I had a great defensive line in Dallas though.

Recruit: So, you only had 2 years at Cleveland and then were fired and went back down to d-line coach?

TG: Look that’s not what is important, what is important is that we at UGA have is a “dream team” we are gonna be like the Harlem Globetrotters of college football. Don’t you just want to be under that title? I mean not even Herschel Walker was on a self-proclaimed “dream team” think about that.

Recruit: Coach I hear ya, but I wanna have a future in the NFL and it doesn’t sound like you have much to offer there. I’ll let you know.

….I’m just saying.


May 21st, 2010
8:58 pm

Well it looks like this recruiting class is going to much better this year than last year Todd Graham has done a much better job than CWM .


May 21st, 2010
9:06 pm



May 21st, 2010
9:37 pm

Seen most of them play, Dickson is the best. He will be the next major star from Griffin in the NFL. We have had well over 30 boys make it to the show from Griffin and the list will grow. Toby Jackson….also from Griffin is a very sad excuse for a student. Major skills. The Corey Moore kid is the best person of them all and comes from a great family. I despise the Dawgs, but I will cheer for this young man.

tennesse's hope went with kiffin

May 21st, 2010
9:47 pm

GT has no chance with top recruits as none thus far have even had one star by thier name. PJ cannot recruit while FL state, Clemson, VT, Miami, and UGA continue to bring in top athletes spells three years for PJ.


May 21st, 2010
9:48 pm

Kiffin left a second rate school and a second rate state with second rate athletes.

bruce 12

May 21st, 2010
10:09 pm

Harold you hate georgia boys but who does Alabama go after georgia boys


May 21st, 2010
10:17 pm

bruce 12 you are right Harold does not what he is talking about Alabama is full with DE and CB.


May 21st, 2010
10:49 pm

the comments here are funny!
Tennessee is still Tennessee – with all the tradition, 1st class
practice facilities, Manning, Wilson, Witten, Berry, etc.
Now we bring in Dooley -yes, the top recruits will continue
to come to UT!


May 22nd, 2010
12:34 am

hahahahaha Not sure who is more dilusional:




You guys are seriously bonkers.

bill h

May 22nd, 2010
2:44 am

whats your problem Taco….great name by the way….no need to despise Georgia…I’m sure the University has done something to help you or someone from your family…lighten up….most of this UGA hatred is jealousy from people who got rejected or someone in their family did…sorry that happens, but what you gonna do…I dont expect anyone including you Taco, to admit the source of their bitterness and anger

Tokyo jacket

May 22nd, 2010
2:52 am

Dawg 26, what did MustangJacket say that wasn’t true? Does Grantham have more NFL experience than Groh? No. Does he have more college coaching experience than Groh? No. Does he have a Superbowl ring? No.

UGA will still probably get more recruits, you always do. But, you can bank on CAG bringing in some recruits over the next two years (even though he probably won’t be there for their senior seasons).

Red Dog 77

May 22nd, 2010
3:23 am

As I burn the mid-night oil, I ponder how great it is to be a part of the SEC ! As a UGA grad I hope they all will chose Georgia………….But reason tells me that won’t happen. I do believe with the new attitude at UGA, we will get more than our fair share. I firmly believe Grantham, Lakatos, and Belin have started something special at Georgia, and Bobo, CMR and the offense will surely follow suit. Defense and good chemistry creates championship teams in college football…………My #1 man of all that was mentioned in this article would be Damian Swann ah, yes a bonified lock down corner who can return the football along with Justin Scott-Wesley and Branden Smith………Will Georgia become “Return U” ?………………Here’s hoping everyone gets who they want [ in your dreams] and that the University Of Georgia Football Program indeed builds the “Dream Team ” and finally gets to bully Florida for a few years………..GO DOGS !!! SIC’ ‘EM WOOF………WOOF……..WOOF…….WOOF !!!!!!!!!


May 22nd, 2010
5:47 am

Vaughters, Conley, Swann and possibly Dickson will end up at U.Ga. Doubt the Dawgs will take Uzomah as they have a commitment from Lemay and may sign Nick Marshall, as well.

Like it or not, Jacket fans, the U.Ga. coaching staff is indeed assembling the best recruiting class in school history. You can call it a “dream team” or whatever other label you desire; the moniker isn’t important. What IS important is that the defensive coaching staff has been revitalized, correcting the biggest impediment to championship football in Athens. The great thing as far as Tech is concerned is that the state of Georgia is so loaded with prospects this year that CPJ can have an average recruiting season in-state and still have a top-25 class.

Tokyo Jacket, I have one question: does Al Groh have to jump start his pacemaker on cold mornings, or does it just kick in automatically after a cup or two of coffee?

I’m sorry, but if I’m an 18-year-old kid, having a geriatric DC just simply doesn’t excite me. Vince Lombardi won a few Super Bowl rings, too–why didn’t you hire him if they was a priority? I mean, he’s dead, but he has that experience, right? Grantham, Belin and Lakatos are the real “Dream Team”–among the best defensive position coaches in the business. And Grantham’s take no prisoners mentality and fiery sideline presence will be the kind of motivational force on the Georgia staff that simply was not there during the Martinez years.

Barring injuries, I expect dramatic defensive improvements at U.Ga. this fall. That’s really bad news for the Jackets, as they showed last season that their defense even with the two Morgans could not stop the Georgia offense. Without them, and without the rest of the departed talent, it’s looking like a long, hard year on the Flats–bookended by yet another loss to the Dawgs. And so a new streak begins…


May 22nd, 2010
6:16 am

Tokyo just because Groh rode a personal relationship with Bill Parcells to a super bowl ring doesn’t make him a good coach, his defenses at Virginia gave up points like a Willie Martinez led defense. Giving up 30 or more 6 times in 09. In fact, Groh just seems like an older version of Willie, he rode the coattails of successful friends in the coaching business to the limited success he has enjoyed. Enjoy your version of WIllie while running the wingT and another 8 or nine years before another win against UGA. As for as winning the ACC, who cares, the kids already know it isn’t bigtime.


May 22nd, 2010
7:47 am

the top 10 high school players in Ga would not even be in the top 50 in Florida high school ball…


May 22nd, 2010
7:53 am

WOW tim if that were the case why would Florida offer so many horrible athletes in GA. Thanks for playing but you fail. TREATED!!!!!!


May 22nd, 2010
7:55 am

Tennessee can’t recruit other than zero star athletes in georgia. OH and UGA never offered them. Tennessee gets the leftovers as they could never win without talent from other states.

Football Fan

May 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

Xzavier Dickson was an absolute beast on defense in the playoffs. He had his hand in the QBs face on every single play. He was almost as disruptive as Eric Berry was when he played at Creekside. It’s almost impossible for the other team to get a play off.


May 22nd, 2010
8:28 am

Google Mathuselah and Al Groh’s picture pops up.

AJ Johnson must have some serious warts for CMR not to offer.

My wish list would include:
Damian Swann
James Vaughters
Isaiah Crowell
Jay Rome
Ray Drew
Charone Peake
Nick Marshall
Stephon Tuitt
Xavier Dickson
Watts Dantzler
Quan Bray
Justin Garrett
Xavier Ward

Tokyo jacket

May 22nd, 2010
8:39 am

Heeldawg, awesome argument. I talk about facts and your retort is “he’s old.” You must have been the captain of your debate team. Actually, when he was let go, the entire UVA team protested his firing at UVA. How’s that for connecting to 18 year olds?

Brick, negative on both accounts. Bellichick and Parcells both offered him a job as DC of their football teams. Two hall of famers in the NFL wanted CAG to be their DC. Your DC couldn’t even get promoted to DC of a team that’s one one playoff game this decade. Truth is, he’s not a good head coach…at all. Second, his D’s yards per play was actually pretty good. His O was horrible; they couldn’t hang onto the ball. That lead UVA’s defense to be on the field longer than just about any other team in the conference.


May 22nd, 2010
8:49 am

Well, where do I start…..


May 22nd, 2010
8:54 am

Chip: why isn’t Johnson from Gainesville not considering UGA? It seems like we keep missing out on kids from Gainesville….does their school or coach not like UGA?


May 22nd, 2010
9:24 am

Douglas – Not sure why, but AJ doesn’t have an offer from UGA. Seems like a stud, but must be something the coaches see (or don’t see)

Tokyo – I agree that Groh is a good coach. And I think it was a good hire for the record. What I’m most curious to see is how he and CPJ get along. Sometimes it’s tough for someone who is used to being the “head guy” to take a step back. And will he have enough “players” to work with. I’m not familiar with your depth chart, but I know you did lose a few key players there. Time will tell.

And before you go spouting off about our DC, know some facts. Saban wanted CTG to come with him to Miami, but he chose to go to Cleveland to be closer to family. When all the hub-bub about Smart coming to UGA was going on, guess who Saban was in contact with? I’d say Saban is a pretty good defensive football mind too, no? When he was hired, the Dallas Head Coach (Phillips) said he hated to see him go, but he was grossly over-qualified as a DL coach. The whole cleveland situation was a mess, and more to it than performance (his #’s actually weren’t too bad)

Groh is a good defensive coach, no doubt. But I wouldnt’ be writing off CTG too soon. He’s a lot younger and has already made a pretty good name for himself and learned from some of the best in the game. Plus, we’re also adding in 2 new defensive coaches as well, who are some of the best at their position. How well they gel, we’ll have to wait and see. And, even though it’s pretty young, he’s got a good bit of talent to work with. Hopefully he’ll have better luck turning those 4 and 5* guys into players than the previous regime.

I think both UGA and GT will have improvements on defense. Time will tell who has more…


May 22nd, 2010
9:26 am

My oh my what a short memory GA fans have.
I’m sure most of these recruits watched the game
last year when Johnny Crompton went berzerk!

Yes, to the Vol who mentioned Manning, Witten, Berry
for them…beating UGA was routine…..just as it is routine
for all the Vols on our current roster at Tennessee!

Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay
the same.


May 22nd, 2010
9:29 am

who cares about Tennasissy…………..