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Hammock: Georgia trumps Tech in Gwinnett again

As Georgia's football program added another Gwinnett piece to its puzzle at the front of Brookwood High School's commons area, one of the county's last links to Georgia Tech watched from the back of the crowd.

Bronco linebacker Rennie Curran, one of three Gwinnettians to sign with Georgia on Wednesday's National Signing Day, inked his letter of intent to a roar of applause from the crowd, which was laden with fans of the red and black.

His good friend, Brookwood grad Mansfield Wrotto, joined in the applause, even as a few teachers joked with him about the Bulldog fans. Wrotto just finished his career at rival Georgia Tech last season, cutting the number of county football player at Tech by one more.

National Signing Day 2007 did nothing to help the Yellow Jackets' cause in Gwinnett - Georgia signed three prospects from here, Tech signed none.

"Sometimes I pay attention to (the lack of Gwinnett players at Tech), but we're still getting great athletes from all over the country," said Wrotto, considered a prospect in April's NFL Draft. "I think we're top 10 this season (in recruiting). Coach (Chan) Gailey's doing a great, great job. We're progressing now. This past season we were 9-5 and went to the Gator Bowl. Even though more kids from Gwinnett County are not coming to Tech, we're still getting great athletes from other states and other counties."

Still, it would be nice to see a major Division I school that's just 20 to 25 minutes down I-85 recruit Gwinnett harder. Tech made an effort to recruit inside the state more intensely than in recent years, but the coaches' luck in this county didn't change.

In the past five years, nine football players from Gwinnett have signed with Georgia and just two have signed with Tech. Take it back six years and the Bulldogs' advantage is 12-2.

Why do the Gwinnett kids not go to Tech? Who knows?

"Probably because there are a lot more Georgia fans over here (in Gwinnett)," said Curran, whose second offer was from Tech. "I think that's it. Even the players who went to Tech this year most of them started out as Georgia fans. Then something like playing time or something else took them to Georgia Tech."

So when the 2007 college football season starts, Georgia could have eight scholarship players from Gwinnett. Tech will have one player that it signed out of high school from here - reserve quarterback Kyle Manley.

Tech certainly hasn't given up on Gwinnett. Gailey's staff offered Curran early and also extended one to Peachtree Ridge wideout Sidney Haynes, but those were the only two high-profile Gwinnett prospects to give Tech a serious look this year.

But Curran, sporting a huge grin and a Georgia hat, said he lost his interest in Tech when his favorite school - he is a longtime Bulldog fan - offered. That didn't bother Wrotto, who said he wanted his fellow Liberian descendant to be happy.

The former Jacket also wouldn't mind more Gwinnett guys in Atlanta. But Tech seems to be doing fine without them.

"Wherever (Curran) goes for academics and athletics, I'm happy for him," Wrotto said. "Go where you feel comfortable, go where your family can get to games and where there's great academics. Georgia's a very good school, even though we had our (rivalry) thing against Georgia. I try to root for Georgia when they're playing out-of-state teams. We're all representing the state of Georgia."

Will Hammock can be reached via e-mail at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays.