By Fletcher Proctor
Recruiting experts from across the nation have listed Georgia among the top four states each and every year for producing college football players and this 2012 football season is no different. The semifinals are loaded with players that will put pen to paper either this February or next February on National Signing Day. The cliche is tired but remains true: Big-time players step up in big-time games. It is time for these elite prospects to step up with a shot at the state finals on the line.
In Class AAAAAA, Norcross boasts perhaps the top running back in the state in Alvin Kamara. The Blue Devils’ running back has been explosive all season long, and last week added “wildcat quarterback” to his impressive resume. Kamara has rushed for more than 1,900 yards and 24 touchdowns this year and is trying to decide between Alabama and Georgia. Norcross also boasts running back/receiver Myles Autry, cornerback Shon Akins and defensive end Lorenzo Carter. Carter has proven unstoppable this season with more than 20 sacks.
Colquitt County has its own set of playmakers in quarterback Cole Segraves and wide receiver Bobby Hill. Segraves is mulling over his options while Hill has already pulled the trigger on a pledge to Ole Miss. In the trenches, Octavius Jackson, Rush Propst’s big offensive tackle, is headed to Florida.
On the other side of the AAAAAA bracket, Lovejoy’s offense will give the fax machine a workout on National Signing Day. QB Alejandro Bennifield is headed to UT-Chattanooga while TE Arshad “A.J.” Jackson is for now headed to Auburn. WR Jumichael Ramos has committed to Georgia Tech along with RB Travis Custis.
In Class AAAAA, Gainesville boasts the best player in the classification and perhaps the best player in the state, regardless of grade. Junior quarterback DeShaun Watson has accounted for 68 touchdowns on the year. Last week against Harris County, Watson tallied 572 total yards with seven scores. He has given a pledge to Clemson, but after this incredible season, he could be tempted to look around.
Northside-Warner Robins’ Keshun Hill and Whitewater’s Kendall Conley are other special offensive standouts that should be followed throughout the semifinal action.
The talent in Class AAAA is spread out across all of the teams as Sandy Creek, Monroe Area, Marist and Ridgeland each have interesting prospects. Sandy Creek’s Shaq Wiggins, a defensive back headed to Georgia, and junior wide receiver Demarre Kitt are at the top of the list, but don’t sleep on lineman Alan Knott and junior quarterback Cole Garvin. Knott is headed to South Carolina while Garvin will certainly begin to see his recruiting process pick up over the next year.
Marist boasts a pair of stud prospects in tight end Greg Taboada (Stanford) and quarterback Myles Willis (Boston College). Each have helped the War Eagles get in a position to earn Alan Chadwick his third state title.
Ridgeland has an interesting player in Vonn Bell. While Bell projects as a defensive back at the next level, he has been used on offense this season with great success. He is trying to decide between Alabama, Tennessee and Ohio State, and has told reporters that it is more likely that the school’s academic standing will mean more than the athletic standing.
St. Pius X has an junior in Nick Ruffin who has coach Paul Standard dreaming of state titles. Ruffin stars at wide receiver in additional to defensive back, and holds offers from Georgia Tech, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida State.
While Buford doesn’t have the recruiting haul of one year ago, the Wolves do have lineman Josh Cardiello, headed to Georgia, and two-way star Mikey Bart, headed to South Florida.
In Class AA, the 2012 Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year Taylor Lamb will try and help Calhoun reach the finals yet again and win a second straight title before departing for South Alabama. This season, Lamb has passed for 34 touchdowns and more than 3,150 yards while running for another 300 yards and 11 scores.
Class A may be the smallest classification, but that doesn’t mean the class is devoid of talent. George Walton Academy’s Stanley Williams has pledged to Georgia and has been running wild all season. Another junior back to watch is Landmark Christian’s Jeremiah Kirkland. ELCA boasts a pair of elite prospects in defensive lineman Isaac Rochell (Notre Dame) and Keyante Green (Purdue). Finally, Dooly County’s Montravius Adams is considered by several recruiting services to be the top defensive tackle in the country.