Griffin continues to be a hot-bed recruiting area for college sports throughout the southeast. For proof you need look no further than our local high schools. Both have adopted, “signing rooms.”
It’s not a bad idea when you consider a record 33 high school athletes signed this season to play at the next level this fall.
Yes, it’s true that number includes three former local athletes who signed to continue their career out of junior college. Still, that’s up from last year’s previous record of 26.
The best part is they represent a cross section of all sports, both genders and all schools inside the county lines. And lest you think this is some fluke, a rare string of gifted athletes, think again.
Around here having an average of more than 20 athletes sign per school year has been the norm for well over a decade. In 2009 a co-previous high of 24 signed, up from 16 in 2008. Though it should be noted 24 signed in 2007, while 21 signed in 2006 and 18 signed in 2005.
That’s no fluke.
It’s funny, but this annual column started back around 2000 because parents were complaining coaches weren’t doing enough to help their children reach the next level.
So we worked up a list and took one look — which again has averaged more than 20 signed per school year dating back to the late 1990s — and realized they were just blowing smoke.
So we eagerly waited until parents came up the following year complaining and tossed the list from the previous year on the desk.
End of discussion.
That same scene played itself out less and less frequently the next two or three years as word got out the local coaches were doing a pretty good job of preparing the local athletes for the next level.
What the lists don’t show are countless hours of practice and refinement the coaches and athletes put in. Remember, there is no short cut to reaching the next level. Just honest assessment and hours and hours of practice and refining.
It’s funny, but when athletes do that they develop a very healthy respect for the level they should be playing at. That leads to a lot of great natural fits when the colleges come calling.
The athletes realize what an honor it is to be extended an invitation to play at the next level and often quickly ink on the dotted line. They realize exactly where they fit in. Call it a win-win.
It’s a win-win not only for the athlete and his new college, but also for the local high school and community. It’s the system working as it should.
So, if you’re a parent with a student-athlete you feel is being snubbed and you’re ready to start complaining — halt. Try getting in the system first and letting it work. Thirty-three local athletes did that last year and it worked just fine (see list on this page).
(John Sullivan is the sports editor at the Griffin Daily News).
Headed to the next level… The Signed
Those local athletes who have signed to play at the collegiate level since this annual article ran May 30, 2010:
No. Name (High School) Sport College
1. Jared Hernandez (Former SHS) football Miss. Valley St.
2. Grayson Jones (Spalding) football Shorter College
3. Shay Wright (Spalding) track Darton College
4. Denarius Appling (Griffin) football West Georgia
5. Demetrius Williams (Griffin) football Lake Erie College
6. Henry Mabbett Jr. (Spalding) golf Georgia Southern
7. Dylan Griffin (Spalding) baseball West Georgia
8. Will Sanders (Spalding) wrestling Mercer
9. Xzavier Dickson (Griffin) football Alabama
11. Corey Moore (Griffin) football Georgia
12. Nile Daniel (Griffin) football Kentucky
13. Ty Turner (Griffin) football South Florida
14. Chandler Worthy (Griffin) football Troy University
15. Toby Jackson (former GHS) football South Florida
16. Kentorius Jackson (former GHS) football South Florida
17. Chris Mayes (Spalding) football Georgia
18. Zay Sharp (Spalding) football Georgia Southern
19. Jenna Wesley (Spalding) xcountry/track Alabama-Birmingham
20. Anthony Lewis (Griffin Christian) football Mars Hill College
21. Aaron Ledet (Spalding) xcountry/track Miles College
22. Montae Williams (Spalding) football Fort Valley
23. Darrius Davis (Griffin) football Fort Valley
24. Jahmad Clemons (Griffin) football Fort Valley
25. Stefon Harper (Griffin) football Fort Valley
26. Davin White (Spalding) golf Georgia State
27. Nathan Skinner (Spalding) baseball Point University
28. Zach Lerner (Spalding) baseball Point University
29. Precious Martin (Spalding) track Darton College
30. Adam Miller (Spalding) xcountry Point University
31. Abby Stephens (Spaling) soccer Wesleyan College
32. Erika Strnad (Spalding) soccer Gordon College
33. Austin Hurt (Spalding) baseball Gordon College