Norcross' Lorenzo Carter holds up a stuffed bulldog as he announces he'll play football at the University of Georgia during a signing day ceremony on Wednesday. (Staff Photo: Jason Braverman)
Now that we’re more than a week removed from another enormous National Signing Day for Gwinnett’s football stars — 125 signees last Wednesday and still growing for this year’s senior class — it gave me a few days to digest all the happenings.
A few snow days gave me a little extra time, too.
It was neat as always to see the unique places where Gwinnett sends its football talent, though some of those that may seem unique are commonplace in Gwinnett. While some areas get an Ivy League or service academy football player once in a decade, our county routinely turns those type of kids out in great numbers. Just this year, eight Gwinnett football players are headed to Ivy League schools and another seven are bound for Army or Navy.
One more tidbit — colleges from 27 different states signed a Gwinnett football player last week.
That said, what happens here in Georgia is on the minds of most football fans.
Here are my grades on how a few in-state schools fared in Gwinnett last week:
The Bulldogs haven’t been able to lock down Gwinnett’s top prospects like they used to, but they landed the biggest recruit in Lorenzo Carter.
I read prior to signing day where Rivals.com had dropped the tall and athletic defensive end down from a five-star recruit to a four-star recruit, basing it on season results and whether Carter had proved he could be an elite defensive end or linebacker. I got a chuckle out of that one. The kid’s a monster, definite five-star material. He’ll make loads of plays for the Bulldogs in the future.
For what it’s worth, Carter is still a five-star on the ESPN and Scout.com rankings.
• Georgia Tech/A
It was the best signing day haul in Gwinnett for the Yellow Jackets, who not only got three signees from here, but three proven playmakers.
Norcross’ Myles Autry is a dynamic playmaker who will infuse energy into the Tech offense, while teammate Clinton Lynch is impressive catching the ball and running it. Both are proven winners, and they’ll arrive on campus with a pair of state championship rings to prove it.
Tech’s other signee, C.J. Leggett, is a winner, too. He carried North Gwinnett to the state finals as a senior and his power and quickness will be a great fit in the Yellow Jackets’ run-heavy attack.
• Georgia State/B-plus
It wasn’t a complete swing-and-miss for head coach Trent Miles.
His class could have been loaded with Gwinnett prospects, but he lost Lynch to Tech, Norcross’ Ridwan Issahaku to TCU and Peachtree Ridge’s Walden Davis to Southern Miss just before signing day.
One-time GSU commitment Horatio Walker ended up at Hutchinson County Community College (Kans.).
Despite those defections, the Panthers still landed Norcross wide receiver Maaseiah Francis, Peachtree Ridge kicker/punter Evan Pantels, Lanier linebacker Michael Shaw and Parkview fullback Brandon Sullivan.
Miles made it clear he’ll be back in Gwinnett in the future with his signing day comments.
“Gwinnett County is one of the three most recruited areas in the country,” Miles said. “Everyone is in Gwinnett County. Because it’s a county that is growing and there are so many players. But also because they have great coaches and the players coming out of there are well-coached. We are always going to focus on that area because of the players there are well developed.”
• West Georgia, A-plus
West Georgia directed its recruiting efforts in Gwinnett heavier than it has in years, and the result is a strong, seven-player class.
The local signees headed to Carrollton are Grayson’s Austin Hamilton and Aares McCall, Buford’s Harrison Morgan, Central Gwinnett’s Charles King, South Gwinnett’s Abed Nelson, Lanier’s Grey Lee Williams and Archer’s Jermaine Morris, a transfer from Coffeyville Community College (Kans.). This group could really make the next few seasons special for the Wolves.
• Georgia Southern, C
The Eagles signed one player who will fare very well — early enrollee Ryan Northrup, an offensive lineman off Norcross’ back-to-back state title teams.
But he was Georgia Southern’s only local signee in a dry year recruiting the Gwinnett area.
• Kennesaw State, C
I really thought the new program would focus more of its attention in Gwinnett, and maybe the efforts were there, they just didn’t get results. Andrew Sciara and Ben Otiwu of Mill Creek are nice recruits, but I thought the Owls should have made a bigger imprint here in the early stages of the program.
• Valdosta State, C-minus
The Blazers have done well with Gwinnett talent over the years, but only nabbed one area recruit this year on signing day — Duluth’s Bryant Pinkney.
Will Hammock can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.