Walker: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Sports for me has always been a “feel good” segment in an otherwise crazy world. With all the political happenings and troubles surrounding the world and particularly the United States, sports are a great way to escape and pause. Back in yesteryear, “America’s Pastime” was indeed baseball. Everyone gathered around to track pennant races and bragged about whether their team was capable of winning the world series, but in modern times we can all agree that football is definitely “stirring the proverbial drink.”

File photo of a high school football field. (credit: Gregory Olsen/Getty Images)

File photo of a high school football field. (credit: Gregory Olsen/Getty Images)

Football…yes….football!! All kinds of football is starting now, from the “tikes” to the pros. Here is Metro Atlanta it is nothing different, where local football teams are having the hopes and dreams of championship trophies and getting into the business of seeing that come into prominence. On the high school level, local teams such as the Grayson Rams and Roswell Hornets have hopes to finish what they started last season. Roswell especially is eager to get back to the championship game after losing in that game last year to Colquitt County 30-13. Grayson wants to “leap-frog” the Hornets and have some added talent to do so, including WR/DB Deangelo Gibbs who transferred from Peachtree Ridge and DB Jamyest Williams who transferred from Archer. This is a highly anticipated year considering the coaching changes, new regional alignments, and a brand new division in Georgia, 7A.

ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 4, 2010: UGA, mascot of the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team runs onto the field during the game against the Lousiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns on September 4, 2010 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs won 55-7. (Photo by Ashley Strickland/University of Georgia/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)

ATHENS, GA – SEPTEMBER 4, 2010: UGA, mascot of the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team runs onto the field during the game against the Lousiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns on September 4, 2010 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs won 55-7. (Photo by Ashley Strickland/University of Georgia/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)

On the collegiate level, the Kirby Smart era has begun at the University of Georgia. After the much ballyhooed spring game in which over 100,000 people were in attendance, the tension and for what this Bulldog Team will be is thick. Amongst a bevy of unanswered questions surrounding the “Dawgs” is who will be the “signal caller” for the offense this season; will it be the incumbent, Grayson Lambert or will it be the true freshman Jacob Eason? Coach Smart, taking a page from former employer Nick Saban’s book and keeping that bit of information under wraps.

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 08: Head coach Paul Johnson of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets directs his team against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, NC – NOVEMBER 08: Head coach Paul Johnson of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets directs his team against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their game at Carter-Finley Stadium on November 8, 2014 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Also in the collegiate ranks locally, Georgia Tech is looking to bounce back after a dismal 3-9 campaign. Paul Johnson’s spread offense is looking to complement the improvements on defense to have a complete team and turn their fortunes around. It will all rest on the shoulders of Justin Thomas, who is looking to get back to his 2014 form. Kennesaw State and Georgia State are also looking to go “next level” after banner seasons last season for both programs.

Atlanta Falcons 2016 Training Camp - Day 5

For the ones getting paid to play football, our hometown Atlanta Falcons are looking to improve upon their 8-8 record from a year ago. The 1st year of the Dan Quinn era had its ebbs and flows but they are looking to take this franchise to greater heights. There are still key staples of this team with Quarterback Matt Ryan, Wide Receiver Julio Jones, and Cornerback Desmond Trufant but some key draftees and free agents are making this squad very interesting.

Safety Keanu Neal, the “Dirty Birds” 1st round pick is quickly making his presence felt and in the process making people change their mind about feeling like the Falcons reached to get him. This hard hitting safety out of Florida has accepted the mandate of being “fast and physical”, even with his teammates resulting in some camp skirmishes. He has since “toned down the hits to his squad but we can appreciate his hard hitting ability and intelligence here in Atlanta. The franchise has also bolstered their pass rush through free agency by acquiring Dwight Freeney. Freeney has been in the league for a long time. Last year in Arizona he had a team leading eight sacks in just 11 games which indicates he still can be an effective situational pass rusher.

Overall, here in Metro Atlanta it most definitely is a wonderful time of year in almost all levels of football. This bit of hope for our football teams are a great distraction from what is the struggles of the world, even the struggles of our Atlanta Braves. Everyone is looking forward to great seasons.

Jamie Walker is a Producer, Blogger, and Analyst for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or reach him through email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.

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