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Gwinnett grads take various paths to 4-year colleges

Ideally every high school football player would qualify academically and would find their perfect college directly out of high school.

But the recruiting process isn't Utopian.

A number of players don't get that Division I-A scholarship offer they crave, so they head to a junior college or prep school to garner more recruiting attention. Some of those standouts have offers, just not from a college they'd like to attend.

Others are coveted by big-time colleges, but don't have the grades. So they head to short-term schools to shore up their classwork.

Several former Gwinnett standouts have taken roundabout journeys to four-year colleges, and the following is a school-by-school look at the JUCOs or prep schools where some prominent Gwinnett players are competing:

Pasadena City College (Calif.)

Brookwood grad David Pittman, aiming to prove he could be a high-level college quarterback (many schools recruited him as a defensive back/wide receiver), headed west to Pasadena City College.

The California school allowed him to showcase his skills at QB, where he has flourished. He has completed 92 of 133 passes (69.2 percent) for 1,113 yards and 12 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He's also rushed 29 times for 156 yards and three more scores.

Pittman had a huge game for 3-0 Pasadena last weekend, completing 33 of 47 passes for 312 yards and three TDs in a 27-25 win over Orange Coast College. The sophomore also rushed 12 times for 40 yards and a TD.

Pittman is ranked 26th nationally on the Rivals Junior College Top-50 Rankings, which spotlight the nation's top JUCO recruits. According to Scout.com, his college list includes Arizona State (offer), Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina A&T, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Tulsa and UCLA.

His Pasadena teammate, Peachtree Ridge grad Chris Douglas, is having a solid freshman season. Douglas has nine rushes for 56 yards and seven catches for 79 yards and two TDs.

Butler Community College (Kan.)

Like Pittman, Central Gwinnett grad Beau Johnson looks to have the chance to play Division I-A football after finishing junior college play.

The 5-foot-11, 214-pound running back is No. 38 on the Rivals Junior College Top-50 Rankings, and his college choices include Auburn, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska and Oklahoma State.

Johnson leads the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and Region VI in scoring with six TDs for the undefeated Grizzlies, ranked third nationally. The sophomore has carried 71 times for 352 yards this season.

Tyrece Gaines, a Norcross grad, is a freshman wide receiver at Butler. The 6-2, 205-pounder has eight catches for 124 yards this season with a long of 42.

Garden City Community College (Kan.)

In his freshman season at Garden City Community College, Dacula grad Cameron Kenney already is showing why he could play I-A football at multiple positions.

Kenney has six catches for 101 yards and a TD and six rushes for 117 yards on offense. He also averages 47.4 yards per punt on 16 punts, ranking first in the KJCCC and in Region VI.

Last weekend he boomed an 82-yard punt and also ran 37 yards on an improvised fake punt with under two minutes left that sealed a 21-14 win over Dodge City.

"Cameron can do so many things it's incredible," Garden City head coach Lucas Aslin told the Garden City Telegram. "He saw their alignment was off (on the fake punt) and took off."

Georgia Military College

Georgia Military College offers a closer-to-home junior college for Gwinnett grads, including freshman Jerry Gross of Berkmar and Rock Robinson of Collins Hill. Gross is a 6-2, 175-pound wide receiver and Robinson is a 6-foot, 220-pound running back.

Hargrave Military Academy (Va.)

Hargrave Military has sent numerous stars to I-A colleges, and three locals are hoping to follow that path. Hargrave's roster features defensive back Julian Whitehead of Parkview and linemen Broderick Simpson (Duluth) and Corbin Williamson (Greater Atlanta Christian).

FOOTBALL

Mitchell shines in UAB victory

Grayson grad Jim Mitchell had his best game since transferring from Presbyterian College (S.C.) to Alabama-Birmingham last weekend in a 22-0 win over Alcorn State.

Mitchell, who plays running back and special teams, had 12 carries for 76 yards in the victory. The sophomore helped Presbyterian to an 11-2 record in 2005, then sat out the 2006 season because of his transfer to UAB.

Covington aids Georgia Southern win

Chris Covington converted a fake punt for a first down and had an interception in Georgia Southern's 42-34 win over Coastal Carolina last weekend.

The Brookwood grad, a running back for the Eagles last season, returned his interception 45 yards to Coastal Carolina's 13-yard line.

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 will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.