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Gwinnett Grads: Ivy Backer

Piling up enough tackles to be Greater Atlanta Christian's season and career leader didn't help. Eye-popping strength and speed testing didn't, either.

Eric Schultz didn't get what he initially wanted for a college choice when his two favorites, Wake Forest and Duke, didn't offer a scholarship. The big schools, it seemed, couldn't look past his height, barely 5-foot-11.

"My life was all football back then," said Schultz, now a standout senior linebacker at Harvard. "I never really thought about anything else. It was all about football. Academics was the big thing for my parents, but for me it was the football. ... Harvard always recruited me and I knew they had a great (football) program and had sent a few players to the NFL.

"I thought I could come in and make an immediate impact at Harvard, so for me it was the best football program to go to."

Like most Ivy League schools, it also had plenty of academic and post-college perks.

Schultz, who has a 3.4 GPA in psychology and economics, already has some solid work experience during college.

In the summer of 2006, he worked for a small money marketing firm in Atlanta and followed that up with two more productive summers.

His first internship was in Boston with Fidelity Marketing Capital, then this past summer he worked in New York with Lehman Brothers, which was bought by Barclays, although Schultz still has a job offer from Barclays.

"I want to work in finance in New York (after his June graduation)," Schultz said. "Obviously this is the worst year to try to do that but we'll see how it goes."

In the meantime, he plans to enjoy the remainder of his playing career at Harvard, a school he has grown to love. He's also soaked up some of the Crimson's tradition, which dates back to its first football in 1874.

The school's stadium, a state landmark, was the nation's first permanent concrete stadium for athletics when it was built in 1903. The horseshoe layout added FieldTurf and lights in 2006, but still retains its old-school feel.

Then there's the intense rivalry with Yale. It went Harvard's way last season when the Crimson blew out then 9-0 Yale.

"It's an awesome rivalry and it's been really good recently," the 215-pounder said. "They've been the other (Ivy League) powerhouse with us these last few years. We average probably 11,000 fans at our home games and the stands have 35,000 to 40,000 for that game. It's a packed house. There are pep rallies all week, news stories, national coverage. We always say that's our bowl game."

Schultz has been a big part of Harvard's success over the past four seasons.

After a 27-tackle freshman season, he has been a second-team All-Ivy League selection the past two seasons. He tallied 83 tackles (91/2 for losses) as a sophomore, then led the team in tackles as a junior with 54.

He has 21 tackles (three for losses, two sacks) for the 3-1 Crimson this season. His biggest play of the season was forcing and recovering a fumble on the Harvard 1-yard line in a 25-24 opening win over Holy Cross.

Despite an early loss to Brown, Harvard also is still in contention for the Ivy League championship with fellow preseason favorite Yale.

"It's kind of up for grabs right now, but we should be OK," Schultz said.

FOOTBALL

Vandy linemen shine going into UGA game

Vanderbilt defensive tackles Greg Billinger and T.J. Greenstone suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday to Mississippi State, but both continue to play well as they return for a game today at Georgia.

Greenstone, a Collins Hill grad, stood out last weekend with four tackles, two for losses, and a half a sack. Two of his pressures also resulted in sacks by teammates.

Billinger, a Parkview grad, had four tackles (one for a loss) against Mississippi State.

Lankford stands out

Alabama-Birmingham's Zach Lankford, a Dacula grad, had a strong performance last week in a loss to Houston.

A physical blocker at H-back and tight end, Lankford had five catches for 68 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown reception. He also had an acrobatic catch at the Houston 6-yard line to keep a drive alive.

SOCCER

Diaz-Matosas on national team of week

Brookwood grad Samantha Diaz-Matosas, a defender at South Carolina, was named to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week for her play in the Gamecocks' two SEC wins last weekend.

The junior, the Daily Post's 2006 player of the year, had a goal and two assists in the two victories.

Diaz-Matosas, a former Gamecock forward, had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 win over Ole Miss last week. Her goal was a game-winner, her second of the year, at the 87:33 mark.

Mullen scores first career goal

Central Gwinnett grad Alex Mullen, a freshman at St. Mary's College (Ind.), scored her first career goal Wednesday in a 4-0 win over Trine University. Mullen's goal came just before halftime.

CROSS COUNTRY

North's Albey honored

West Georgia freshman Josh Albey, a North Gwinnett grad, was named this week as the Gulf South Conference runner of the week for the second time this season.

Albey earned the honor for finishing second in the Southern Collegiate's College Division, running the hilly 8K course in 28 minutes, 33 seconds. He was the top finisher for West Georgia, which won the team title. The first conference honor for Albey came on Sept. 4 after he finished seventh at the Jacksonville State Opener, his first college race. He ran that 5K in 16:09.

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.

SideBar: IN FRONT OF THE CAMERAS

A quick look at where to watch former Gwinnett standouts in today's college football action:

Noon - Georgia Tech at Clemson, ESPN

For Georgia Tech, Duluth's Tyler Davis (No. 86) is a kicker, Duluth's Jason Davis (No. 45) plays running back, Norcross' Luke Snider (No. 66) plays defensive line, South's Zach Krish (No. 74) is an offensive lineman, Norcross' Bryce Dykes (No. 16) plays quarterback and Buford's Chase Hudson (No. 63) is an offensive lineman. Parkview's Michael Palmer (No. 86) plays tight end and Brookwood's Dawson Zimmerman (No. 96) is a punter for Clemson.

Noon - Wake Forest at Maryland, WUPA

Collins Hill's Barrett McMillan (No. 61) plays offensive line, GAC's Ben Wooster (No. 85) plays tight end, Meadowcreek's Cyhl Quarles (No. 28) plays linebacker, Brookwood's Terence Davis (No. 81) plays wide receiver and GAC's Chris Langley (No. 17) plays wide receiver for Wake Forest.

12:30 p.m. - Vanderbilt at Georgia, WATL

Duluth's Kennard Reeves (No. 28) plays running back, Parkview's Greg Billinger (No. 56) plays defensive line, Collins Hill's T.J. Greenstone (No. 74) plays defensive line and Grayson's Tristan Strong (No. 24) plays linebacker for Vanderbilt. For UGA, GAC's Brannan Southerland (No. 36) plays fullback, Norcross' Fred Munzenmaier (No. 48) plays fullback, GAC's Caleb King (No. 4) plays running back, Brookwood's Rennie Curran (No. 35) plays linebacker, GAC's Christian Robinson (No. 45) plays linebacker and Peachtree Ridge's Drew Butler (No. 13) is a punter.

3 p.m. - Appalachian State at Georgia Southern, SportSouth

For Georgia Southern, Brookwood's Chris Covington (No. 28) plays defensive back, GAC's Lee Chapple (No. 14) plays quarterback, GAC's Josh Barker (No. 76) plays offensive line, Buford's Garryon Taylor (No. 83) plays wide receiver, Norcross' Dion Dubose (No. 54) plays linebacker, Parkview's Matt Rucker (No. 56) plays linebacker, Grayson's Stephen Bolt (No. 75) plays offensive line and Central Gwinnett's Josh Aiken-Phillips (No. 97) plays defensive line.

3:30 p.m. - Ole Miss at Alabama, CBS

North's Jason Cook (No. 44) plays fullback, Parkview's Julian Whitehead (No. 28) plays defensive back, Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Sanders (No. 14) plays defensive back, Buford's Melvin Harris (No. 5) plays wide receiver and Peachtree Ridge's Trey Trip (No. 44) plays linebacker for Ole Miss. Grayson's Lorenzo Washington (No. 97) plays defensive line, Norcross' Darius Hanks (No. 15) plays wide receiver and Norcross' Sam Snider (No. 45) plays wide receiver and punter for Alabama.

3:30 p.m. - Ohio State at Michigan State, ESPN2

Peachtree Ridge's Cameron Heyward (No. 97) plays defensive line for Ohio State.

3:30 p.m. - USC at Washington State, FSN

Norcross' Brice Butler (No. 83) plays wide receiver for USC.

8 p.m. - LSU at South Carolina, ESPN

For LSU, GAC's T-Bob Hebert (No. 53) plays offensive line and Peachtree Ridge's Derrick Bryant (No. 36) plays cornerback. North's Jared Cook (No. 84) plays tight end, Buford's Yvan Banag (No. 30) plays fullback and Brookwood's Kenny Miles (No. 31) plays running back for South Carolina.