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GWINNETT GRADS: Berkmar's Kadeem Wise finishing strong for Chattanooga Mocs football program

Berkmar grad Kadeem Wise is finishing up brilliant college career with big season at Chattanooga.

Berkmar grad Kadeem Wise is finishing up brilliant college career with big season at Chattanooga.

Chattanooga’s opponents used to test Kadeem Wise regularly, but that only lasted a season.

The Berkmar grad intercepted six passes in 2010, his first college football action, and earned All-Southern Conference and SoCon freshman of the year honors. Now he isn’t quite as likely to see a lot of passes come his way, a good thing for a shutdown cornerback.

Wise, now a senior, has continued that consistent play throughout his college career, starting all 40 of the Mocs’ games during that span. He had two interceptions each of the past two years and one this season, not surprising since his number of opportunities for picks have diminished thanks to his standout play, which has resulted in three straight years of All-SoCon honors.

The streak of consecutive starts, in a physical sport, has earned the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder much of his acclaim.

“It’s something I’m proud of,” Wise said of his 40-game run. “I take pride in my work and my craft. I just work hard to be the best I can be. … I’m a lot smarter now, a lot more confident. I’m a better student of the game. In high school, I didn’t watch much film. Now I watch a lot of it.”

Wise also has been one of Chattanooga’s top tacklers, with 170 stops in his career. He already has 41 tackles through seven games this season.

His personal play has been a major part of Chattanooga’s resurgence during his career. The Mocs were coming off a 1-11 season when they signed Wise, but they’ve had winning records three of the past four seasons (and the one losing mark was 5-6).

They’re already 5-2 this season entering today’s game with The Citadel. Being a part of that turnaround is one of the major reasons Wise signed with Chattanooga over one of his other top choices, powerhouse James Madison.

“James Madison was already winning,” Wise said. “I wanted to be a part of something special here. I wanted to be a part of something I helped build.”

Wise, who had the Berkmar football team’s highest GPA as a senior, nearly didn’t end up at Chattanooga. He was committed to Duke for a while in high school, but that offer fell through.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Wise said. “I prayed on it and I ended up in a great place in Chattanooga. … It’s a great city, a great atmosphere and a great school.”

Wise plans to graduate in December with a degree in sports administration and a minor in business. When he’s not working on football or school, he has another welcome diversion at home — his 3-year-old son Jaylen, who has lived with him in Chattanooga for the past three years.

“It’s a pick-me-up (to have Jaylen around),” Wise said. “If I’m having a bad day, he yells ‘Daddy’ and gives me a big hug. Rather than coming home moping, I get to come home to that.”

Wise still has high goals for the conclusion of his career on the field, too.

Chattanooga’s only SoCon loss was a 23-21 setback to Georgia Southern on Sept. 28, but it’s reeled off three straight wins in response. With games left against The Citadel, Appalachian State, Wofford and Samford, a conference title is still in play.

The Mocs finish up the regular season with a trip to No. 1 Alabama, a typical BCS foe that they schedule once a year. They also took on South Florida, Nebraska and Auburn (during its 2010 national title season) in previous years, giving Wise some good video footage for NFL scouts.

He already has a pretty good college resumé, which he hopes leads to an opportunity in the NFL.

“I’m going to give it a shot,” Wise said of pro football. “I’m going to leave it in God’s hands, pray on it and if it happens, it happens.”

FOOTBALL

Cox earns third

league honor

For the third time this season, Dacula grad Marcus Cox has earned the Southern Conference freshman of the week.

The Appalachian State running back received the honor Monday after last weekend’s 27-10 loss to Furman. He rushed 21 times for 118 yards and caught six passes for 44 yards that game.

Cox also earned the SoCon award for his play earlier this season in the Elon and Charleston Southern games. He ranks second in the SoCon in scoring (60 points), touchdowns (10), all-purpose yards (1,093) and receiving yards (498). He also is third in receptions (33) and touchdown receptions (five), sixth in rushing yards (595) and sixth in rushing TDs (five).

In addition to being the leading contender for SoCon freshman of the year, Cox also is a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the NCAA Division I FCS freshman of the year.

Cox and the Mountaineers host longtime rival Georgia Southern today.

Lombardo on a roll

Washington and Lee quarterback Nick Lombardo, a Peachtree Ridge grad, is having a big senior season.

He carried 21 times for 194 yards and a TD last week vs. Randolph-Macon in a run-heavy offense. He also completed 6 of 9 passes for 68 yards.

The three-year letter winner and team captain has rushed for 693 yards (115.5 per game) this season, ranking third in both categories in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

SOCCER

Abraham delivers

GSU upset

Collins Hill grad Amiri Abraham provided the offense Wednesday night as Georgia State upset ninth-ranked Furman 2-0. It was GSU’s first win over a top-10 opponent since 2001.

Abraham, a freshman, scored both Panther goals, the first in the 12th minute for an early lead. His second goal in the 86th minute sealed the victory.

“Nothing fazes Amiri and the moment never gets big for him,” GSU head coach Brett Surrency said. “For a freshman, he is very level-headed. He continues to gain confidence and he has scored some big goals for us.”

Abraham leads GSU (6-7-1) with five goals and 11 points.

Lopez guides

Blue Hose to victory

Providence Christian grad Tori Lopez scored three goals last Saturday, leading Presbyterian College (S.C.) to a 4-0 win over Virginia Military.

The senior scored all three of her goals in the first 34 minutes, securing the program’s first hat trick since 2006. The Blue Hose’s record is now 8-7 overall and 5-4 in the Big South Conference, giving the team its most wins since 2006 and its most Big South victories ever in a season.

Lopez leads Presbyterian with eight goals, 16 points and five game-winning goals.

Grayson lands at Keene

After playing at the College of St. Rose (N.Y.) for the start of her college soccer career, North Gwinnett’s Maggie Grayson has succeeded at her new school, too.

Grayson, a junior at Keene State College (N.H.), has started all 17 matches this season and has two assists for the NCAA Division III program. She came to Keene from St. Rose, which won the 2011 NCAA Division II national title her freshman season.

TENNIS

Wehr named conference player of year

Collins Hill grad Abbie Wehr, who plays for Regis College (Mass.), was named the New England Collegiate Conference player of the year earlier this week.

The sophomore also was a first-team all-conference selection in singles and doubles. She also helped Regis to the league tournament title this season, earning all-tournament honors in singles and doubles.

Wehr, who was NECC co-player of the year as a freshman, was 12-1 at No. 1 singles, including 8-0 in conference play, this season. She lost just one set all season and is now 25-8 at No. 1 singles, as well as 25-1 at No. 1 doubles, in her career.

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 will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com.