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Gwinnett has record-setting signing year

Photo: Brian Kamer
North Gwinnett athletes sign autographs for fans after a signing day ceremony at the school on Wednesday night.

Photo: Brian Kamer North Gwinnett athletes sign autographs for fans after a signing day ceremony at the school on Wednesday night.

Gwinnett County's wealth of football talent was revealed on Wednesday during National Signing Day.

The county has steadily risen in the number of college signees over the last decade. It had its highest number ever this year.

Gwinnett County had 119 signees, which included 39 to Division I programs and 20 to Division I-BCS teams.

"This is a big day in these young men's lives," Peachtree Ridge coach Mark Fleetwood said. "To realize their dream is a big thing. I am really proud of them."

Gwinnett had a then-record 85 signees last season and has come a long way since having 29 signees in 2002.

Of the 22 football playing schools in Gwinnett, 18 had at least one signee. They ranged from BCS powers Alabama and LSU, to in-state programs like Georgia Southern and West Georgia, to Ivy League schools and obscure places like Becker College in Mass.

"It's an exciting part of these kids' lives," Grayson coach Mickey Conn said. "These guys have the grades, have been working hard and now get the chance to perform at a high level."

Gwinnett will be well represented in the Ivy League and service academics with six players going to each set of prestigious schools.

Four Gwinnett schools had 10 or more signings with Shiloh leading the way with 14, including 12 to Concordia College. The 14 signings breaks the county record of 12 set by Grayson and Peachtree Ridge the previous two years.

Buford had the most signings in its history with 12. The Wolves sent seven players to BCS schools, including Dillon Lee and Kurt Freitag to national champion Alabama.

"It's good to have this many high-character kids, but it's also hard because you have to let them go," Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. "As coaches, people always look first at how many good players you're losing. And we are. But we're also losing character kids. These guys are great people, great kids."

Collins Hill and North Gwinnett each had 10 signees, which is also the most ever for those programs. Class AAAAA state champion Grayson had seven signees, including quarterback Nick Schuessler to Mississippi State.

The only excitement of the day came from Peachtree Ridge where Ahmaad Harris unexpectedly signed with former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora at UCLA.

West Georgia won the in-state battle by grabbing six players, including Daily Post Offensive Player of the Year Rocky Capobianco. Georgia Southern and Georgia State each locked up four.

"These young men have been playing football for a very long time," Fleetwood said.

"This is payday. This is the fruits of their labor."