It became clear in preseason camp that Cameron Lynch wasn't bound for a redshirt.
The Brookwood grad played well enough that Syracuse needed the true freshman linebacker on the field, initially using him as a reserve linebacker who played on all the special teams units. It didn't take long for the Orangemen coaches to pull him off every special team except for kickoff coverage, a result of needing him in a more prominent role at the Sam linebacker spot.
"It was definitely a goal (not to redshirt)," said Lynch, the Daily Post's defensive player of the year in 2010 after helping Brookwood to the Class AAAAA state title. "I worked hard in summer camp and earned a spot."
The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder has 28 tackles (18 solos), ranking fifth on the team. He had eight tackles and a sack vs. Toledo, six tackles at USC and five tackles against Wake Forest as Syracuse handed the Demon Deacons their only loss of the season.
Now that Lynch achieved his first goal of avoiding a redshirt, he has some more marks in sight. Some of the individual ones involve former Georgia star linebacker Rennie Curran, also a Brookwood grad.
"My dad told me the other day that Rennie had 50 tackles his freshman year (at Georgia)," Lynch said. "So I'm trying to get 60 tackles. I'd like to get some more sacks, too, and some picks."
Lynch said the level of football in Georgia, and in Gwinnett, helped ready him to make immediate contributions in college. Because of that, the speed of the game wasn't overwhelming, either.
Not that there haven't been adjustments to college football.
"It was definitely an eye-opening experience," Lynch said. "The biggest adjustment for me was our practice tempo. In high school you have some time off in practices and you kind of lollygag some. In college, they film every practice, so there's zero loafing."
Syracuse has a bye this weekend, but returns to action Friday, when Lynch and his teammates host West Virginia in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Berkmar players shine
Four Berkmar grads from the class of 2009 had good college games last Saturday, including Central Florida's Troy Davis.
Davis had three tackles (one for a loss) and three quarterback hurries in a win over Marshall.
Corbin Grace had three tackles and a sack for Concordia College (Ala.) in homecoming win over Texas College, while Chattanooga's Kadeem Wise (three tackles in a loss to Georgia Southern) and North Greenville's Brandon Aldridge (two tackles in a win over Central State) also made contributions on defense last Saturday.
Au powers Gamecocks' big weekend
South Carolina sophomore Danielle Au, a North Gwinnett grad, stepped up offensively last weekend and powered her team to a pair of home wins over Alabama and 22nd-ranked Auburn.
Au scored two early goals, one in the 10th minute and one in the 19th for her first career multi-goal game, as the Gamecocks started quickly in a 4-1 win over Alabama. Two days later, she scored the clinching goal in a 3-1 victory over Auburn.
Buford grad Maria Petroni scored South Carolina's first goal vs. Auburn.
Thomas stuns Clemson, again
Greater Atlanta Christian grad Chris Thomas seems to enjoy matching up with longtime ACC power Clemson.
The junior scored the game's only goal, a header in the 36th minute, Tuesday night as his Elon team defeated Clemson 1-0. It was the third straight victory for the Phoenix against the Tigers.
Thomas also scored the only goal in Elon's 1-0 victory over Clemson in 2010.
Bayly gets Peach Belt award
Parkview grad Kansas Bayly, a sophomore at Columbus State, was named the Peach Belt Conference defensive player of the week on Wednesday.
Bayly scored the first two goals of a 5-2 win over Georgia Southwestern the previous week, while playing stellar defense in a pair of games. She is a key defender for a defense that has a 0.87 goals-against average.
Gwinnett grads lead Berry women
Four Gwinnett products, two seniors and two freshmen, have played prominent roles this season for Berry College, which is off to a 7-2-1 start.
Collins Hill grads Katie O'Brien and Kristen Brooks, both seniors, have performed as expected for the Vikings. O'Brien has five goals and Brooks has five assists and a goal.
Newcomers Joy Pianka of Brookwood and Brooke Clement of Duluth have stepped up in their first college seasons. Pianka has five goals and three assists, and Clement, who has played every minute at goalkeeper, has a 0.66 goals-against average.
Brookwood grad Krista Barikos has helped the Reinhardt women's soccer team to a 9-2-2 start this season. The sophomore has six goals and a team-high five assists, ranking second on the team with 17 points. ... Mill Creek grad Tatum O'Keefe scored her first college goal last weekend, but her Georgia College and State University team still lost 2-1 to Columbus State.
Peachtree Ridge's Seth Reeves tied for second individually last weekend as Georgia Tech won the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon. He shot 7-under-par 65 in the first round, then closed with 74 and 70 to finish at 7 under. ... Mill Creek grad Emilie Burger tied for 15th individually, helping Georgia to a sixth-place finish at last weekend's Tar Heel Invitational (N.C.). She shot 72, 73 and 72 in the tourney.
Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.