Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
South Gwinnett quarterback Kent Rollins (16) pitches the ball to the outside during their game against Grayson.
After last season, South Gwinnett head coach John Small knew he had all the pieces in place for a successful offense. The only part missing was a quarterback.
The Comets graduated last year's starter, Michael Polascik, leaving a void in the heart of South's spread offense.
THE ROLLINS FILE
Who: Kent Rollins
School: South Gwinnett
Favorite TV show: SportsCenter
Favorite sports team: Boston Red Sox
Dream job: To coach high school football with older brother Neil
What do you do to prepare before a game: "I always get tapped by the same person, listen to music, kind of separate myself and not talk as much. Get game ready, run everything we've worked through practice, just know what I've got to do and my assignments."
Plays baseball for Comets
Maintains 3.0 GPA
Has played QB since he was 6
Needs 335 yards to break David Greene's single-season passing record
Played at Brookwood last season
Then Kent Rollins moved back into the South Gwinnett district after a semester at Brookwood.
The rest as they say is history, at least for opposing defenses.
Rollins has been the main cog this season in the Comets' offense, which has put up a school record for points in the regular season. The junior QB is on track to break the single-season school passing record and has led the Comets to their best season since 2003.
"Well, I think you have to have a trigger man. A guy back there who can run the offense," Small said. "I think he will be the first to tell you he has great receivers, great running backs and a great offensive line."
Rollins has plenty of options when comes to making plays. He has a handful of receivers to throw to led by Vanderbilt commitment Jonathan Krause, two skilled running backs in Aaron Wimberly and Trevon Walker and a senior-laden offensive line led by Eric Callaway.
"I've been playing well, but it's not just me. Everybody is helping me out. I can only do so much," Rollins said. "I have to get them the ball and they have to catch it, they have to block, give me time, it's not just me. It's everyone accumulating to help us win."
The accumulation of all those pieces has been pretty impressive. South has scored 349 points this season, the most in school history. The 2003 team scored 349 points in 13 games, the 1999 team scored 360 in 12 games and the 1993 state finals team scored 403 in 15 games.
Rollins holds the single-season school record for total offense with 2,252 yards and has the single-game touchdown record with five against South Forsyth.
"It's a great offense, especially with the guys we have," Rollins said. "You have to have athletes and we do. We have weapons everywhere. It's a whole lot of fun."
Rollins has thrown for 1,767 yards. He needs only 335 yards to break former UGA great David Greene's single season passing record of 2,102 yards.
"David knows about him because David has seen him play and David thinks he's a great player," Small said. "He's not even close to where he can be. To be said with his name is pretty good company, but Kent is a pretty humble kid, too. It's not about him, it's about our football team and helping South be successful."
Rollins has South in the playoffs for the second time in three years. The last time the Comets were in the postseason, Rollins was a freshman. He transferred the next year to Snellville rival Brookwood. He played sparingly on offense for the Broncos in 2008, but saw regular action in the secondary.
He called the move to Brookwood and back to South a "family decision." But it's one Small and the Comets have welcomed.
"The kids welcomed him back with open arms. He didn't leave on bad terms with anybody. It was what it was, but he came back and we're glad to have him back," Small said. "He wasn't handed anything. He had to come in here and earn it and work extremely hard."
The 6-foot, 175-pound Rollins has thrown for 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He has also rushed for 485 yards and seven TDs. His ability to run and throw makes him a dangerous threat. When the Comets' passing game struggled last week, Rollins made up for it with his feet, rushing for 168 yards and three TDs on only five attempts.
The Comets will host Etowah on Friday in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. It's the first home playoff game for South since 2003, giving the Comets a reward after a 9-1 regular season. The only loss this year has been to Region 8-AAAAA champion and No. 1-ranked Grayson.
Rollins hasn't been phased by all the impressive numbers he and his Comet teammates have put up this season. Rollins could eventually go down as South's greatest passer, but the QB is more focused on this team's legacy than his own.
"It's a great feeling, but right now the numbers will come," Rollins said. "I'm worried about the next game, getting to the (Georgia) Dome and doing something that hasn't been done before."