Gwinnett recruiting fair "best in the country"

GAC’s Rafe Chapple

GAC’s Rafe Chapple

Meadowcreek head coach George Pugh has 39 years of football coaching experience.

Many of those years were at the college level, including his most recent stint as the recruiting coordinator at Georgia State.

Pugh was in a different role at the Gwinnett County Recruiting Fair on Monday at the Gwinnett Convention Center.

Instead of trying to find players to come play for him, he was promoting his Meadowcreek seniors.

“It’s a lot more fun and a lot less pressure,” Pugh said with a smile. “You get a chance to sell your kids as opposed to trying to get one. I have a different point of view. I know exactly what they are looking for. They understand I know what I’m talking about.”

Pugh led Meadowcreek to a 1-9 record this season, snapping a 53-game losing streak. Prior to Meadowcreek, Pugh had college coaching stints at Georgia State, Houston, Alabama-Birmingham, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Pittsburgh.

Pugh has sat in plenty of families’ living rooms, coaches offices and traveled from coast to coast going to the recruiting fair like the one Monday.

“This fair is the best in the country,” Pugh said. “I can say that because I’ve been everywhere from Spokane (Wash.) to Miami. I have a wealth of experience to compare it to. There’s thousands of good players in Gwinnett and they are good academically. That’s what separates them. Football around here is king. It’s a gospel. It’s a way of life in Gwinnett County.”

Former Brookwood head coach Dave Hunter is the creator of the Gwinnett County Recruiting Fair. It began in the late 1990s at The Lodge at Brookwood. It’s grown to feature more than 50 schools from Metro Atlanta. Hunter estimates the recruiting fair has helped more than 300 players get scholarships over the last 10 years.

“It’s a great event,” Hunter said. “The purpose is to help kids that are not at the Division I level.”

Hunter mailed 500 postcards to small colleges across the country from Division II, junior college to NAIA. The NCAA does not allow Division I schools to attend the recruiting fair.

“I just had Dade County’s Bradley Warren come up to me and tell me he had four seniors get offers and they didn’t have any before that,” Hunter said. “That’s what this is about.”

Duluth assistants bring recruiting experience

The Gwinnett County Recruiting Fair was the first for Jason Conner as the head coach of Duluth. But the first-year coach wasn’t out of his element.

Conner had two assistants by his side with college recruiting experience.

“They play a big role for me,” Conner said.

Offensive coordinator Isaiah Taulbee is a former recruiting coordinator at several Division II and Division III schools.

Defensive coordinator Bob Swank is the former head coach at Buffalo State.

Both brought a tremendous amount of expertise to allow Conner to sit back as they handle the nuances of recruiting.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for schools and colleges to come at one place at a time,” Conner said. “We’re really passionate about getting kids to college.”

DVDs out of date

Just a couple of years ago at the Gwinnett County Recruiting Fair every table had a stack of DVDs to give college coaches.

The DVDs featured game tape and highlights of various players. But that technology has become obsolete.

“We made 25 DVDs, but we used to make 200,” Conner said.

College and high school coaches now rely on the website Hudl to upload and view film, highlights and player vitals.

It has saved coaches time from having to buy DVDs, burn them, label them and then ship them.

“It used to take forever to burn all of those DVDs,” Central Gwinnett head coach Todd Wofford said.

Chapple going Ivy League

Rafe Chapple is the last in a long line of brothers to play quarterback at Greater Atlanta Christian. The senior is also continuing the trend of playing at the college level.

Chapple committed to Yale, according to head coach Tim Hardy.

His older brothers Lee (Georgia Southern/North Alabama), Colton (Harvard) and Jared (Georgia) also played in college.

Rafe Chapple threw for 1,899 yards with 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions, helping the Spartans reach the second round of the state playoffs this season. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder has a 4.12 GPA and scored 26 on the ACT.

Thomas’ stock rises

Before the season started, Collins Hill linebacker Jonathan Thomas wasn’t a heavily recruited player. Over the last month, though, he has become a hot commodity.

Thomas, who helped lead the Eagles to the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals, has picked up scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Syracuse and Cincinnati in recent weeks.

Parkview’s Patterson headed to Wofford

Parkview linebacker John Patterson is committed to Wofford, according to Panthers assistant coaches.

Patterson was among the county’s leading tacklers with 103 stops. Patterson is also a standout in track and field, winning the Region 8-AAAAAA title in the discus throw last season.

King switches Ivy League schools

Earlier this season, Buford linebacker Deion King committed to Cornell.

The senior is still headed to the Ivy League, but will play for Princeton instead, according to Buford assistant coaches on Monday.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound King has been injured most of the season. He posted 95 tackles and two sacks last year for a state championship team.

Norcross’ Boyd commits to App. St.

Norcross running back Josh Boyd committed to Appalachian State last week, according to head coach Keith Maloof.

Boyd has rushed for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns to help the Blue Devils reach the Class AAAAAA state semifinals.

Boyd’s commitment gives the defending state champions 10 college commitments. Kevin Mouhon (Tennessee), Jordan Noil (Maryland), Chris Herndon (Miami), Jaquan Frazier (Georgia Southern), Emmanuel Aka (Georgia Southern), Ryan Northrup (Georgia Southern), Horatio Walker (Georgia State), Clinton Lynch (Georgia State) and Maasaiah Francis (Georgia State) also have made commitments.