Gwinnett has another big year on signing day

Photo: John Amis Archer High School student Ernest Alexander responds while being recognized after signing a letter of intent to play football for Navy during National Signing Day.

Photo: John Amis Archer High School student Ernest Alexander responds while being recognized after signing a letter of intent to play football for Navy during National Signing Day.


Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan South Gwinnett football players Nadarrius Eckers, far left , Weston Simmons, Nicholas Hylton, Devonte Lawrence-Spivey and Jordan Ramey, far right, were among the twelve senior football players who publicly announced their college commitment during National Signing Day in Snellville Wednesday.

The most decorated recruiting class in Gwinnett County history put its stamp on National Signing Day on Wednesday.

Big time recruits like Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche and Norcross' Alvin Kamara made their announcements live on ESPN.

All-Americans Trey Johnson from Central Gwinnett and Kelsey Griffin stuck firm with their commitments.

But those four were just the tip of the iceberg on National Signing Day in Gwinnett. The county set another record with 120 players signing scholarships, including 43 to Division I programs and 26 of those to Division I-BCS conference schools. The list includes six players to Division I junior college programs.

"I hope it's a trend that continues to grow," South Gwinnett head coach John Small said.

The number of signees in Gwinnett has steadily risen over the last decade, up from just 32 players signings in 2003. The county produced 107 signees a year ago.

Of the 22 football playing schools in Gwinnett, 20 had at least one signee. They ranged from BCS powers like Alabama and Georgia to 12 in-state programs, Ivy League schools and obscure places like Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire.

"These kids, they've earned it," Grayson head coach Mickey Conn said.

There are 37 players that will stay in-state to play college football. Shorter University in Rome and Division II national champion Valdosta State led the way with six each. Georgia Military College had five.

The University of Georgia signed four players from Gwinnett, which is the most at one time since 2003. The Bulldogs nearly had a fifth, but Norcross' Kamara chose Alabama over Georgia.

"It's just icing on the cake. I'm happy for these guys," Norcross head coach Keith Maloof said. "It's a reward for their hard work throughout their high school careers."

Three Gwinnett schools had 10 or more signings with South Gwinnett leading the way with 15. The group includes a pair of junior college signings and breaks the county record for most in a single season.

Peachtree Ridge and Grayson had 12 each in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

"It's a fun day for these kids and seeing their goals accomplished. It's exciting for these kids," Small said. "A lot of them we knew they had a chance because of their ability, but they had to take care of their business in the classroom."

Grayson and North Gwinnett were next with the most signees with 11. The Rams sent seven to BCS schools, including the nation's No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche to Ole Miss.

North's biggest commitment was offensive lineman Devondre Seymour, the son of former Georgia standout Richard Seymour, who announced his decision to go to UGA.

Archer, which is in just its fourth year of existence, had its largest signing class. The Tigers had eight players sign, including five to Division I programs.

"I think a lot of it is this is the fourth year of our program and many of them came through it," Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. "All of their hard work is paying dividends."

All of the recruiting letters, phone calls and official visits are over. Now it's time for this talented to group to head to the next level.

"Now, you've got to move on," Parkview head coach Cecil Flowe said. "That's my challenge, really, in the next few months is have them understand, 'You're fixing to step out there in the world, and you're going to make it. We've prepared you to make it. This school, your parents and we've equipped you to make it, and you can.'"