College recruiters flock to Norcross football team

It shouldn't be surprising. After all, Norcross finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and No. 1 ranking in the state.

But if there was any doubt just how talented the Blue Devils were this past year, it should be erased now. At least seven, and probably closer to 10, Norcross seniors will be inking with college football programs on National Signing Day in February.

"It's very rewarding," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "It's rewarding for the coaches and the school ... and we take extreme pride in getting kids to the next level. No matter how much success you have during the year, you still want to send your kids off to college where they can still enjoy the game."

And there will be plenty of seniors from the 2006 Norcross team playing on Saturdays in the coming years.

Quarterback Bryce Dykes, a Daily Post first-team All-County performer, has offers from Air Force, Austin Peay and a number of I-AA and Division II schools.

Wide receiver Darius Hanks, also a first-team All-County selection, has offers from D-I schools Kent State, Ball State, Miami of Ohio, East Carolina, Ohio and Bowling Green, among others.

Linebacker James Simien has an offer from Navy, as well as heavy interest from Air Force, Eastern Kentucky, Ball State and Western Kentucky.

Defensive end Brooks Cunningham, who broke the school record for sacks this past season, just returned from an official visit to Samford, and will be visiting Tulane this weekend. Linebacker Matt Tribble has offers from Hofstra, Austin Peay and Tuskegee, and is receiving heavy interest from a number of Division II schools

Tuskegee is also interested in defensive backs Leonard Foster and Kendall Parks, as is the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and some other I-AA and Division II schools.

A couple of other Norcross seniors may go the JUCO route before perhaps signing with a four-year college.

Safe to say with so many college prospects the next month is going to be very busy for the Norcross head coach.

"I've talked to a lot of college coaches and we've spent a lot of time on (recruiting)," Maloof said. "But it's for the kids. That's why we do what we do. And we tell them if they do what they're supposed to do academically, this is what's at the end of the line for them. That's what we preach throughout the program. We try to get the kids as many opportunities as we can and then go from there."

Buford's Hendrix

commits to Furman

Buford standout wide receiver David Hendrix committed to Furman University this weekend after officially visiting the Greenville, S.C., school. The standout 6-foot-5 receiver chose the Paladins over Ball State and UAB. He is the son of Mark and Patti Hendrix.

Hendrix caught 34 passes for 731 yards and eight touchdowns for the 12-1 Wolves. He leaves as one of the program's all-time leading pass catchers - he ranks in the top three in receptions and yardage - and he also intercepted five passes on defense as a senior. Though Hendrix is the first senior Buford football player to commit, he won't be the last.

Head coach Jess Simpson said offensive lineman Ben Jacoby is currently leaning toward Ball State. Defensive end Brandon McEachern has been offered by Georgia Southern and UAB and Trey Hunsucker and Chase Hudson are both receiving heavy interest from schools in the Ivy League and the Patriot League.

A Butler pipeline

Outgoing Central Gwinnett head coach Bradley Warren confirmed on Monday that two of his senior stars, Rolando Dyer and Jonathan Massaquoi, will most likely be heading to Butler Community College (Kan.) after the school year ends.

Former Central star running backs Beau Johnson and Yusuf Holloway are both already at the junior college. Holloway redshirted this past season while Johnson rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman.

"Butler had a really good year," Warren said. "It's a good place for kids, especially for kids who mature late. It gives them a second chance, a place to mature and get their grades settled so they can move on to a top football


Warren also said that talented linebacker Bryce Smith has his college choices narrowed down to Samford and Coastal Carolina, unless some bigger schools come calling. Smith just returned from a weekend visit to Samford.

McDaniel picks

up first offers

North Gwinnett wide receiver Ryan McDaniel, who led the county in receptions, yardage and touchdowns, received his first two offers recently from West Georgia and Illinois State. North head coach Bob Sphire also said Samford and Western Kentucky were interested in the talented wideout.

Fellow Bulldog senior Jasper Williams, a defensive end, also has an offer from West Georgia and he recently returned from an official visit to The Citadel.

Merlino follows head coach's footsteps

Wesleyan senior wide receiver Andy Merlino, who missed the entire 2006 season with a knee injury, committed to Washington & Lee, a Division III school in Virginia. It just so happens to be the same university that Wesleyan head coach Franklin Pridgen attended.

Merlino led Gwinnett County with 63 catches in 2005.

"That's my alma mater, so I'm proud of that," said Pridgen, who played basketball for the D-III school.

"He was hunting for a small school with good academics that gave him a chance to play. It was a good fit for him."

Pridgen also said that senior Edward Van Winkle was getting interest from schools like Tennessee-Martin, Wofford, The Citadel, Presbyterian and West Virginia Wesleyan and that Chris Alexander is also getting looks from Division III schools as well.