As pointed out by blog commenter jacksrbettor, high school football is one of the truly great things about the state of Georgia. Sure, there are other states that are mad about their local pigskin. But I would put Georgia right up there with any of them.
And one of the good things about high school football in Georgia is the fact that state semifinal games are played in one glorious weekend at the Georgia Dome. Now, when this idea first came about, I admit I was skeptical. I didn't want small towns and their school systems to be deprived of the excitement (or the revenue) that comes with hosting a big playoff game. But every year I look forward to seeing the caravan of fans and teams coming up I-75 through my adopted hometown on the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Ocmulgee River.
The whole setup is made even better by the fact that Georgia Public Broadcasting televises every minute of every game live and in living color. There's a lot of great football played by a lot of really good players. Some of those players are future college athletes, and some of them are future/potential Georgia Bulldogs. So, I figured it made sense to give you a game by game breakdown of some of the players you'll want to keep an eye on for recruiting purposes. I'll cover Friday's games today and Saturday's games tomorrow.
Wilcox County vs Athens Academy: No players actively recruited by the 'Dawgs that I am aware of. However, you will want to watch Wilcox standouts Alfonzo and Lorenzo Dennard, both of whom will probably be playing Division I, possibly in the SEC. Also worth keeping an eye on is Wilcox County fullback/defensive end Deauntay Legrier.
Carver-Columbus vs. Chamblee: Chamblee features standout offensive lineman and UGA target for 2008 Omoregie Uzzi and 2009 tailback prospect Warren Norman. Carver is (as usual) loaded with talent, including linebacker Jarvis Jones, rated as one of the early top 100 prospects in the country by Rivals. Jones may be the best among a bumper crop of linebackers in Georgia for 2009, and is an early target for the 'Dawgs, having already visited Athens for the Auburn game this year. Carver's offense is lead by 2008 Auburn commits Jarmon Fortson and Deron Furr.
Emanuel County Institute (ECI) vs. Clinch County: You may not know it yet, but you will be hearing a lot about ECI over the next year. That's because the ECI Bulldogs feature at least three players being targeted by the Bulldogs for 2009. Among them is Washaun Ealey, who recently broke the state record for rushing touchdowns in a season previously held by Notre Dame/ Buford tailback Darius Walker. The 5'11, 205 pound Ealey has put it in the endzone 51 times this year, and is thought to be a lean to Georgia at this point. I haven't seen a single scrap of film on the guy yet, so I'm excited to find out what he can do. ECI features another one of those talented 2009 linebackers, Dexter Moody. Moody will probably play defensive end on Friday, but I'm betting he moves to strongside linebacker at the college level. The ECI defense also depends on massive runstopper J.C. Lanier. Lanier, a Rivals100 selection for 2009, is also a guy that the Bulldogs will likely be after, especially given that we'll be losing at least 2 defensive tackles after next season.
Tucker vs. Northside-Warner Robins: Tucker High has provided the Bulldogs with many current and former players, including Thomas Brown and Asher Allen. The Georgia Bulldogs will probably be visiting the Tucker Tigers again, as some think that Coach Franklin Stephens is fielding the best team in the state regardles of classification. Players to watch include 2008 Notre Dame commit Jamoris Slaughter, current UGA target Neiko Lipscomb, and 2009 prospects Jonathan Davis (another of those linebackers) and Drayton Calhoun. Northside will showcase quarterback Marques Ivory in his first game back from a broken fibula suffered on October 19th. The Eagles will lean heavily on receiver Nick Bass and tailback Tijuan Green.
Thomas County Central vs. Ware County: TCC will be showcasing bruising fullback Debrale Smiley while Ware County will rely on the diminuitive Derrick Daniels, who went for over 1100 combined yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior. Paving the way for TCC will be junior offensive lineman Hunter Poole, who has already taken an unofficial visit to Athens.
I am sure I'm leaving some great players out. But those are the main college prospects off the top of my head. Back tomorrow with a look at the Saturday lineup. Until then . . .