When he was a senior at Brookwood, Mansfield Wrotto came within one victory of a state championship ring.
His high school team lost in the state finals to a loaded Parkview squad, but his chances for a ring aren't over. He and his Georgia Tech teammates are aiming for one today when they meet Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game.
"That would be a great finish to my career," the senior offensive tackle said. "I have to get that ring on my finger. That's something you can show your kids and grandkids. You can always tell people you won the second ACC Championship Game."
Wrotto isn't one of the Yellow Jackets' most well-recognized players, but he has quietly put together a stellar college career.
Today's game will be his 45th career start, although the first 32 came at a different position.
He started three seasons at defensive tackle before switching to right offensive tackle this season.
"A lot of people would say moving back and forth from one side to the other can hurt you," Wrotto said of the move to offense as a senior. "But as a tackle, I understand what defensive linemen do to beat offensive linemen. I know the dip and rip, their stance and just what they do. So that's helped me a lot."
The 6-foot-3, 310-pounder started 12 of 13 games for Tech in 2003 as a true freshman and also was a starter as a sophomore on the defensive line.
He was shifted to offensive guard for the spring practice prior to his junior year, but injuries on defense forced a move back to defensive tackle as a junior.
The offensive switch became permanent prior to this season, and Wrotto has been consistent at right tackle. He said he's done fine in run blocking, but that pass protection was the toughest to pick up.
"It was a very new position, one that I haven't played in a very long time, since high school," Wrotto said of offensive tackle. "Plus it's right tackle, and not left tackle like I played in high school. Just the technique and how you use your hands are different. But knowing the plays (from the brief stint at offensive guard) helped."
Wrotto is on track to graduate in finance and accounting, and his long-term goal is to be an investment banker. However, a shot in the NFL could come first because he's considered a pro prospect at his new position, offensive line.
"I'm not thinking about (the pros) yet," Wrotto said. "Personally I'm just trying to enjoy my senior season."
Butler earns MVP in huge Fordham win
Fordham freshman guard Brenton Butler, a Norcross grad, scored a game-high 18 points as Fordham defeated rival Manhattan for the first time in six years on Thursday night, 70-66.
Butler, who was 7-for-14 from the field, received the Mike Cohen Award as the game's MVP in the rivalry matchup. It was the 99th all-time meeting between the New York schools.
"(Butler) played terrific," Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg told the New York Daily News. "He showed a lot of confidence out there. He stepped up and made some outstanding plays."
The win was Fordham's first at home over Manhattan since 1991.
"I just came off the bench trying to play aggressive," Butler said the Daily News story. "I knew as long as I played aggressive defensively, that we'd come out with a 'W.'"
Whitney makes All-Tourney team
Wesleyan grad Carolyn Whitney, a freshman at Georgia Southern, scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half on Monday as the Eagles defeated Western Illinois 64-60 in the AmeriSuites Midtown Thanksgiving Tournament in Albuquerque, N.M.
Whitney, who made 10 of 10 free throws, was named to the All-Tournament team. North Gwinnett grad Christa Waterman added eight points and four rebounds for Georgia Southern.
Gardner-Webb guard Ricky McPhee, a Parkview grad, had a team-high 20 points in his team's 88-76 loss to North Carolina State. ... North Gwinnett grad Jake Green had 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists as Piedmont College defeated Methodist College 87-73. ... Parkview grad Grant Johnson scored 19 points in the Coast Guard Academy's 70-57 win over Earlham.
Ugarte, GPC place fifth
Duluth grad Chris Ugarte, a freshman at Georgia Perimeter College, helped his team to fifth place in the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament. The squad defeated Northern Oklahoma 4-1 in the fifth-place match.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via fax to 770-339-8081.