Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan North Gwinnett's Andy Kwon (63) directs the offensive line during the Corky Kell Classic between the Bulldogs and Colquitt County at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta earlier this season.
Three years ago, North Gwinnett defensive line coach Byron Shells was walking through the weight room when he spotted a strong, young kid.
The student was 6-foot, 205-pound Andy Kwon, a sophomore at the time.
"He found me in the weight room and asked me if I wanted to play football," Kwon said.
Kwon grew up playing basketball, but with his size he figured he should give football a shot. It turned out to be a good move. Kwon, who is now 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, committed to Georgia Southern's football program last weekend.
"The guys that can play basketball, if they can handle the physicality of football, they can handle the transition pretty well," North head coach Bob Sphire said.
Kwon committed to Georgia Southern over an offer from Presbyterian and interest from several Division I-FCS programs. Kwon starts at center for North and is being recruited as a center/guard.
"Hopefully, I'll get a chance to play my freshman year," Kwon said
Kwon will join a pair of former North players in Statesboro. Manrey Saint-Amour signed with Georgia Southern in 2010 and is now the starting center. Jeff Ward walked on and is a backup on the team.
"I talked to them a lot," Kwon said. "They said it would be a perfect fit for me to come join them. I thought it would be a great place to play."
Kwon grew up playing basketball and never considered football until Shells recruited him. He played on the defensive line as a sophomore and was moved to the offensive line during the spring of his junior year.
Kwon struggled with the position early in the season, but has developed into one of North's top linemen this year.
"I believe I have a lot of potential to get better," Kwon said. "I don't have a lot of bad habits because I've been only playing for three years."
Georgia Southern is planning to move from Division I-FCS to Division I-FBS in the near future and playing major college football attracted Kwon.
"Southern had a big crowd (when I visited). They have a great game day atmosphere," Kwon said. "It's a good school. The program is rising, the coaches are great. At the end of the day they wanted what was best for me."
Kwon maintains a 3.5 GPA and plans to major is sports management. He in the third North senior to make a college commitment, joining Donnie Miles (North Carolina) and Jalen Brooks (Maryland).
"(Shells) thought I could play in college one day and he was right," Kwon said.