0

Recruiting Notebook: Graduating early a popular trend for recruits

The last day of the fall semester at Collins Hill was more of a social gathering than a typical school day for Charles Perkins.

With all of his final exams wrapped up the day before, Perkins spent the day saying goodbye to classmates and teachers.

The senior finished all of the necessary courses to graduate ahead of his peers so he could enroll at Georgia Tech a semester early. It's a common theme that has taken off in recent years with college football recruits.

"The benefits are getting in with the team, learning the plays, but most of all academics," Perkins said. "I don't want to go to Tech in August right before football season and struggling in my classes, so you hit the learning curve faster and get used to the classes and get ready for football season."

Perkins along with Buford's Jessel Curry (Auburn) and Kolton Houston (Georgia) and North Gwinnett's Austin Shepherd (Alabama) and Ja'Wuan James (Tennessee) are the most recent crop of seniors to miss the spring semester of high school. Buford's Dallas Lee (Georgia) and Peachtree Ridge's Kevin Minter (LSU) enrolled early last year.

"Just to start off school and have a head start and get my wings to show the other recruits how things are done," Curry said of the benefit of enrolling early.

The decision to graduate early didn't just come about recently. All five players knew last year that they wanted to graduate early, so they prepared by taking the required graduation courses over the summer and during the fall semester.

Many seniors have spring break, prom and graduation on their mind the last semester of high school, but those are perks players are willing to give up to get an advantage in college.

"I'm not too concerned with it," Perkins said of missing out on the senior perks. "I want to have a good future with Tech, so I'm doing whatever I can to get an advantage."

An early semester of college not only prepares players academically, but it helps them learn new schemes on offense and defense, adjust to the speed of the college game and get adjusted to new teammates.

"I think they only have three linebackers on scholarship right now, so I think I may be able to work my way into some playing time," Curry said. "Right now I just want to get in there and not screw anything up."

Daily Post POY picks highlight Tech recruiting class

Perkins and Grayson's Shawn Green were selected as the Daily Post's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year this season.

That may be a good sign for Georgia Tech, where both players will sign in February.

"Me and Charles just talked about that yesterday at practice," Green said during the week of the Rivalries of Gwinnett all-star game practice. "It's crazy how both of us won it. He was like, 'We're representing Tech real good right now.' Then we just started thinking how we've got a pretty good recruiting class overall. We're just stoked right now."

In the late 1990s and early 2000s some of the county's top players and players of the year typically chose Georgia, like Brookwood's Curt McGill, Buford's Tim Wansley, South Gwinnett's David Greene and Parkview's Zeb McKinzey.

Greater Atlanta Christian's Nathan Burton was the Daily Post's Offensive Player of the year in 1998 and played at Georgia Tech, but he originally signed with Navy.

Now Perkins and Green could be starting a new trend for the county's top players. The ACC champion Yellow Jackets have several players from Gwinnett County on their roster, but almost all of them are walk-ons.