On The Road: Wrapping Up The Peach State Trip
Brian Smith recaps his trip to Georgia.
Georgia High School Football Road Trip: Why Major Programs Recruit the Peach State
When seemingly every major college football program recruits in Georgia, there must be a reason why. Going through the greater Atlanta area and even out to the edge of the state near the South Carolina border, a few primary reasons stood out beyond just talent.
Yes, talent proved to be abundant. Talent at just about any program regardless of record was the norm. Watching film with coaches at schools such as Gwinnett Central and Parkview, it became evident very quickly. Take a team lightly, and a loss will be coming Friday night. Still, it’s more than the talent that brings coaches from across the country to Georgia.
If someone walks into the McEachern parking lot just outside Walter H. Cantrell Stadium, it quickly becomes obvious that football means something there. Located in Cobb Country just northwest of Atlanta, it provides a staff of trainers like a college program. McEachern’s overall program is not the norm even for Georgia; it sets the standard.
Fantastic facilities manufacture pride and players wanting to commit to the program. McEachern promotes itself. Players want to be a part of that program. It was evident at several programs. From 7A football down to 1A football, the facilities in Georgia were much better than the vast majority of programs in other states. It was incredible.
Living in Florida, there’s talent everywhere, but it’s not always being coached the best. The powers that be in the state of Florida do not allow high school coaches to make much money. A mere 3,000 dollars per year – for a head coach – will be the top of the board. Private schools pay much better. Still, it’s a big reason why coaches in Florida, and other states, leave for Georgia.
The head coaches can make $10,000 dollars a year, and there are booster clubs that help promote the programs in many ways. The teacher salaries are higher as well. Adding $10,000 or more dollars a year to one’s annual income means better coaches staying in the Peach State as well as out of state candidates making a path to Georgia. With the facilities and coaching in place, the talent takes center stage.
For the class of 2020, McEachern has players committed to Alabama (two), Michigan State, Kansas State, Air Force and Kent State, with a few others likely to sign Division I as well. The class of 2021 shows a loaded group of McEachern prospects, too. Players committed to Clemson and Florida show that this program is not slowing down anytime soon. That’s just an example. The scary part stems from Cobb County only being the second-best county in the Atlanta Metro area for producing talent.
“Every program has Division I players,” Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford said of Gwinnett County. When looking at some of the programs in the area, he’s not kidding. Programs that any recruiting fan probably saw come up when reading an article including Buford, Lanier, North Gwinnett, Central Gwinnett, Grayson, Peachtree Ridge, and Parkview, just to name a few. College programs such as LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami have all signed players from Gwinnett County over the past several years. It’s just an abundant amount of talent, and the area’s population continues to expand.
Construction and new buildings can be seen in many places. Gwinnett County will only increase its population, as many people drive into Atlanta each workday and commute back to Gwinnett County in the afternoon. Thus, college programs will continue to recruit Gwinnett moving forward. Here’s a short review for several players I watched in Gwinnett and other areas of Georgia this past week.
No particular order, as this list is full of talent.
Cane Berrong, TE/ATH, 6-4, 225, Hartwell, GA (Hart County) – If there was ever a player with the frame to be a true “flex” tight end, this young man is it. Berrong is much stronger than anticipated, and much more explosive. Athletic enough to play linebacker or defensive end, Berrong wants to reach 235-pounds by next year. He’s doing very well in the weight room and motivated to get stronger. The Notre Dame commitment will fit in well with the Irish offense.
Deion Colzie, WR/CB, 6-3 ½, 205, McDonough, GA (Athens Academy) – One of the most unique talents in Georgia. Very long arms, explosive stop and start ability, and great hand-eye coordination. Just watching him move this past Friday night, it’s quite possible he possesses the talent to play cornerback. Still, it’s hard to say. Hebron Christian played their JV squad against Athens Academy because they play again this Friday. Strange coaching decision. Colzie made a one-handed interception that he took back for a touchdown. The competition was obviously laxed, but that’s one of the most impressive plays anyone will see this year. Colzie’s upside is fantastic. Wide receiver or cornerback? Time will tell. The Notre Dame commitment possesses plenty of room for growth no matter which side of the football he plays.
Brock Vandagriff, QB, 6-2, 200, Bogart, GA (Prince Avenue Christian School) – Absolute rocket launcher for an arm. More importantly, technically sound mechanics and the best accuracy I remember witnessing for any high school quarterback throwing the football live. Vandagriff is also mobile and capable of making a defense pay during designed or undersigned running opportunities. His upside is unlimited. Oklahoma will be getting a great talent that can compete for the starting job from day one. The Sooners will have to wait, however, as he’s class of 2021. This gunslinger should be considered as close to a sure-fire NFL prospect as anyone will see.
Carlos Del Rio, QB, 6-2, 200, Powder Springs, GA (McEachern) – Another class of 2021 player, Del Rio brings a very strong arm and good touch on throws like the corner fade. He’s a true dual-threat signal caller that will fit in nicely with Florida head coach Dan Mullen’s system in Gainesville. Del Rio is athletic enough to play receiver or safety, but he’s a quarterback moving forward.
Jamil Burroughs, DT, 6-3, 315, Powder Springs, GA (McEachern) – This young man got into shape. He was over 330-pounds last year. Burroughs is a class of 2020 player that literally looks svelte at his current size. Burroughs will not just be a two-gap run stopper at the college level. He’s capable of using his hands and quick feet to apply pressure to the quarterback. Burroughs switched his commitment from Georgia to Alabama. Do not be surprised if he makes the rotation next year.
Cody Brown, RB, 6-0, 216, Lilburn, GA (Parkview) – A natural runner that stays low and runs with power. He can break to the outside and make big plays or he can bulldoze his way for yardage. This is a young man that squats with the offensive linemen. Also helps that he’s a 4.0 student. Programs from across the country offered, such as Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. He could end up any place. If Brown selects Oklahoma or Notre Dame do not be surprised, and if he selects Georgia or Ohio State do not be surprised. He could literally go just about any place. Great young man and leader. Brown is a class of 2021 prospect.
Terian Williams II, ATH, 5-10, 170, Lilburn, GA (Parkview) – This young man can absolutely run. Short-space quickness is elite. Even better, he possesses the make up speed to catch wide receivers from behind. Will this young man play wide receiver though? He’s a weapon on offense as well. In fact, he plays some quarterback for Parkview. Only a class of 2022 prospect, Williams II continues to add to his recruiting profile. LSU recently offered. Florida, Notre Dame, Georgia, and several other programs will be factors. Look for Williams II to receiver a plethora of offers next spring when college coaches come through.
Daejon Reynolds, WR, 6-2, 195, Lawrenceville, GA (Central Gwinnett) – This young man simply takes the ball away from defenders. If it’s a jump ball, Reynolds rarely misses the opportunity to make a play. Reynolds leads the state of Georgia in receiving yardage, and his film shows why. He’s a fantastic athlete with the desire to make plays every chance he gets. One of the most advanced wide receivers in the class of 2021, regardless of state. Offers from 29 programs such as LSU, Georgia, Auburn, and Florida. Look for Reynolds to head out of state for college.
There were numerous other prospects that I watched as well. No way to truly include them all. It was a blast being in the greater Atlanta area all the way out to Hartwell, GA. Gracious hosts and great football. I will be back next spring. College coaches will certainly be going through Georgia time and time again as well.