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GWINNETT GRADS: Locals fill college bowl schedule

College football broadcasts packed the Saturday TV lineup more than ever this season, and most of them had at least one commonality.

At least one former Gwinnett player was involved on one of the teams. That's the result of a surge the past four or five years in local college recruiting, packing rosters with Gwinnett grads. A number of those same players will be a big part of the college bowl season over the next month, giving local fans another shot to see them on TV.

Here's a closer look at some key players with Gwinnett ties in the bowl games:

New Orleans BowlMiddle Tennessee vs. Southern Miss (Sunday, 8 p.m./ESPN)

Grayson grad Denzell Guerra has played in all 12 games for Middle Tennessee's secondary, tallying 13 tackles.

Emerald Bowl, Southern California vs. Boston College (Dec. 26, 8:30 p.m./ESPN)

Brice Butler of Norcross has 19 catches for 289 yards and two TDs for USC, averaging 15.2 yards per grab.

Music City Bowl, Clemson vs. Kentucky (Dec. 27, 8 p.m./ESPN)

Clemson got a huge season from tight end Michael Palmer, as the Parkview grad had 41 catches for 468 yards and four TDs. The Tigers' punter, Dawson Zimmerman, is a Brookwood grad who has 51 punts for a 39.4 average. North Gwinnett grad Ross Bogue is a reserve tight end (two catches for 14 yards, TD) and special teams player for Kentucky.

Independence Bowl, Georgia vs. Texas A&M (Dec. 28, 5 p.m./ESPN)

UGA's roster is full of Gwinnett products, headed by All-American punter Drew Butler. The Peachtree Ridge grad leads the nation at 48.8 yards per punt.

Teammate Rennie Curran, a Brookwood grad, leads the Bulldogs with 122 tackles (54 ahead of UGA's No. 2 tackler). Greater Atlanta Christian grad Caleb King has 98 rushes for 534 yards and five TDs, in addition to catching nine passes for 76 yards and a score.

Norcross' Fred Munzenmaier (two rushing TDs) at fullback and GAC's Christian Robinson (18 tackles) at linebacker are key reserves for the Bulldogs.

Humanitarian Bowl, Bowling Green vs. Idaho (Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m./ESPN)

North Gwinnett grad Marquese Quiles is a reserve defensive back for Bowling Green.

Sun Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Stanford (Dec. 31, Noon/CBS)

Cameron Kenney of Dacula has 22 catches for 268 yards and a TD for the Sooners.

Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force vs. Houston (Dec. 31, Noon/ESPN)

Peachtree Ridge's Asher Clark is second on Air Force in rushing (736 yards, five TDs, 5.5 yards per carry), in addition to catching four passes for 33 yards in a run-heavy offense. Houston's offensive line features reserve Ari Tatum, a Dacula grad.

Capital One Bowl, LSU vs. Penn State (Jan. 1, 1 p.m./ABC)

GAC's T-Bob Hebert starts at center for LSU.

Rose Bowl, Ohio State vs. Oregon (Jan. 1, 5 p.m./ABC)

Ohio State's defensive line is led by Peachtree Ridge grad Cameron Heyward, who has 42 tackles, nine for losses and 5.5 sacks.

Sugar Bowl, Florida vs. Cincinnati (Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m./Fox)

Florida has two Buford grads on its roster, defensive tackle Omar Hunter (17 tackles, two for losses) and reserve H-back T.J. Pridemore.

International Bowl, South Florida vs. Northern Illinois (Jan. 2, Noon/ESPN2)

Buford's Demetris Murray (14 rushes, 79 yards) is a reserve running back for South Florida.

Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss (Jan. 2, 2 p.m./Fox)

Central Gwinnett grad Beau Johnson (77 rushes, 304 yards, five TDs and 10 catches for 62 yards) is Oklahoma State's No. 2 rusher. Ole Miss has a number of Gwinnett products on the roster, though reserve defensive backs Brandon Sanders (Peachtree Ridge) and Julian Whitehead (Parkview) get the most action. Sanders has played in 11 games, making seven tackles.

PapaJohns.com Bowl, South Carolina vs. Connecticut (Jan. 2, 2 p.m./ESPN)

Brookwood product Kenny Miles is the Gamecocks' top rusher, with 602 rushing yards and a TD. He also has 17 catches for 114 yards.

BCS National Championship, Alabama vs. Texas (Jan. 7, 8 p.m./ABC)

Grayson's Lorenzo Washington and Norcross' Darius Hanks are contributors for No. 1 Alabama. Washington has started all 13 games on the defensive line, making 19 tackles (four for losses) and two sacks. Hanks has six starts at wide receiver with 17 catches for 272 yards and three TDs.

BASKETBALL

Wilson reaches 1,000-point milestone

Brenau senior guard Vicky Wilson, a Buford grad, scored 19 points Tuesday in a win over Georgia Southwestern and passed the 1,000-point mark for her college career. Wilson, who averages a team-high 10.1 points, has started four seasons at Brenau. A Southern States Athletic Conference all-academic selection, she is expected to graduate in May with a degree in elementary education.

"Vicky never takes a day or even a play off in practice or in games," said Brenau head coach Gary Bays, who made Wilson one of his first recruits when he started the program. "She was a hard worker when she came in as a freshman and nothing has changed. Her strong will sets a great example for her teammates and she has made herself into an outstanding college player."

Fast break

Wesleyan grad Tanner Smith had a great all-around game Wednesday night in Clemson's 80-63 win over East Carolina. The sophomore had 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. ... Auburn freshman Blanche Alverson made her first career start Tuesday night in a 70-64 win over Liberty. The Buford grad had nine points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists. ... Armstrong State teammates and Collins Hill grads Jazmin Walker (10 points, eight assists) and Marissa Rimbert (seven points) led the way in a recent victory over Augusta State. ... Thought Colgate dropped to 0-9 with a 66-55 loss last weekend to Stony Brook, Parkview grad Yaw Gyawu continued his steady play with 15 points. The sophomore averages 15.0 points and 4.2 rebounds. ... Dacula's Billy Humphrey scored 27 points, but it wasn't enough to rescue New Orleans last weekend in a 78-73 loss to Southern.

BASEBALL

Plagman a preseason All-American

Georgia Tech's Tony Plagman, a Wesleyan grad, was named a preseason All-American this week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. A second-team selection, Plagman is coming off an All-ACC season in which he tied for the team lead with a .354 batting average. The lefty also had 16 home runs and 73 RBIs last season.

WRESTLING

Coffey makes strong debut

Collins Hill grad David Coffey made a quick transition from football to wrestling, placing fourth at last weekend's Ohio Northern University Tournament. The heavyweight also won the award for most tournament falls in the least amount of time. Coffey has started 22 straight games at center for the Campbellsville University (Ky.) football team, helping the team to a 7-4 record this past season.

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.