OT: Insight to HS football in Georgia (and the South)

Submitted by YoOoBoMoLloRoHo on February 1st, 2013 at 9:09 AM
The topic of high school football quality and recruiting in SEC country has been widely debated on this board. This free Rivals article lays out a case for Georgia's rise in HS football that pertains to many programs across the South. Writer's key points with a little first-hand commentary by this Atlantan: 1. High quality HS coaches. They are well paid, but also incur high turnover with immense pressure to win. 2. Year round training. Even junior high programs have organized S&C for the entire offseason in addition to 3 weeks of spring football. 3. Focus. These programs measure themselves by their players at SEC/ACC schools in football. http://footballrecruiting.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1466822 * Although not cited in the article, Milton lost in the first round of the playoffs and is considered an OK football school. Gwinnett County schools are among the Georgia powerhouses.



February 1st, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

another thing people fail to mention is that this area is very affluent, and many pro players come to make this their home.  At almost every HS in Gwinnett, you'll find ex-players sons playing in every sport.  Orlando Brown's son plays for Peachtree Ridge, as did Cameron Heyward (of OSU).  Richard Seymour's son plays at North Gwinnett.  A HS game between North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge would have anywhere around 9-10 D-1 players in the game.  They can also bring in the best coaches because of the support from the community (i.e booster clubs)


February 1st, 2013 at 9:31 AM ^

I used to live in Peachtree City which is just south of Atlanta, and football was everything all year round except at my old HS. My team would get wrecked by every school all year. One of our rival schools just down the road produces D-1 athletes year end and year out most notably Calvin Johnson. 


February 1st, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

Our H.S. team this year has the # 1 or #2 rated RB in the state (depending on the rankings) and a high 3*/low 4* QB both committed to Alabama.  In addition, there are 3-4 linemen that have committed to play at Georgia, Tennessee and other D-1 Schools. 

As the OP said, there is no off-season and even middle school students are "highl encouraged" to attend off-season conditioning.


February 1st, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

this is not where I want the resources going at my daughter's cash-starved school. Nor what I want her cultural life to revolve around. Fortunately--interestingly--soccer is very big here in Florida  (Tallahassee) and in Atlanta, too, from what I hear. . .


February 1st, 2013 at 10:42 AM ^

Lacrosse is the "hottest" sport in the northern suburbs. Still miles behind football in importance.

Per your comment on funding, the HS football program in my area turned a profit as boosters covered almost the entire operating cost for football before ticket revenue put the program in the black.


February 1st, 2013 at 10:42 AM ^

I think middle-schoolers doing organized conditioning and the pressure coaches face may be a bit more uncommon outside of the South, but year-round conditioning certainly is not. I think in parts of the South, you do see smaller programs emulate larger-schools more often, but something like year-round conditioning, formal and informal, has been around for a while pretty much everywhere. 


February 1st, 2013 at 12:14 PM ^

"Winter" conditioning is modeled after BCS programs to prep for Mar/Apr practices. Essentially precludes any winter or spring sports because the off-season is so intense.

For example, my local HS was running 2 full groups of 7-on-7 last night under the lights (no coaches) after their 90 minutes of conditioning to prep for spring ball.

Urban pushed for spring football in Ohio because he believes it improves the quality of HS football, but the HS association turned down the idea to protect the other sports.


February 1st, 2013 at 10:42 AM ^

are abundant up here too. I am constantly deluged with 'fund raisers' for my son's elementary school, to the point where its a bit obnoxious. Teachers demand about $80 worth of school supplies per student to start the year, constant fliers asking for the purchase of overpriced items, etc. Anyway, the football gate receipts at the high school are phenomenal for its level. I think we should have an elementary sponsored football team and mini-stadium to keep up? Add beer sales and that would boost the bottom line!


February 1st, 2013 at 10:55 AM ^

So glad Milton lost! 

I'm a Roswell High grad ('93) and when I was in school, I played football, baseball & basketball.  Guys didn't specialize back then, we just played everything.  And when our season was over, we didn't really worry about that particular sport until it rolled around the following year.

I also live in East Cobb (right behind Wheeler High), like DamnYankee & my parents live in Gwinnett.  No matter where you go in the state, football is a 24/7/365 deal now & kids are deciding very early, what sport they want to focus on.  I would say the baseball & basketball in the south is JUST as competitive as the football.  A lot of these kids have rich parents who will spare NO expense to get their child to the next level.

There is a lot of good football here in Georgia.  My youngest sister goes to Norcross and she tells me that they are very, very good ('12 State Champs).  She also tells me that some of her buddies on the football team are nationally recruited.  One of her friends is already comitted/comitting to Ohio.  I told her to tell him it's a mistake!

Hell just look at Gwinnett County.  They have had a team win the last three state cahmpionships: Brookwood '10, Grayson '11 & Norcross '12.

Football is definitely a religion in these parts.


February 1st, 2013 at 12:03 PM ^

East Snob! 

Just kidding.  My girlfriend is from Atlanta (I was staffed in Alpharetta on a project, and met her down there.)  I somehow convinced her to move up to NYC for the time being (5 years and counting, she still owns her condo in Buckhead).  You're totally spot on though.  She's from LaGrange, and their HS coach got paid decently by the booster club.  

Georgia is a football factory I wish we tapped more into, but there's so much competition for recruits.  Even Georgia can struggle to retain some of the talent nowadays.

oriental andrew

February 1st, 2013 at 12:20 PM ^

I lived in the wheeler district from 5th grade on. Attended sole creek elementary, then switched over to a private school, so never did attend Dickerson or wheeler. Before that, I lived literally a block away from redan high school. Back when I lived there, Chris Gardocki was the star kicker and broke the national high school record for longest field goal. I believe he went on to Clemson.

I've been way out of the loop on Georgia high school sports, but I have a couple cousins, one a frosh at auburn and another a jr in high school, and they both play lacrosse. They tell me it's really a hot sport right now for the guys, more so than soccer.


February 1st, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

the HSAA outside the South are rejecting this commitment to year-round football. This stance clearly mutes the quality of HS teams broadly and probably some individual talent specifically in the North.

Personally, year-round Fball is concerning to me both for safety factors and well-rounded kid development.


February 1st, 2013 at 12:30 PM ^

I went to two highschools in Gwinnett (Berkmar and South) and the amount of D1 talent that comes out of that county in all sports is amazing. When I was a Berkmar we were top 10 in the nation in basketball, and Brookwood and Parkview were the same in football.

Like Buccaneer said above, football is a religion in those parts. 

User -not THAT user

February 1st, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

Far out...I graduated there in 1985.  Amazing how much things have changed in Gwinnett County since then.  Back then all of the high school talent was in south Georgia...Parkview was the only school in GWT that could play any football at all, but they and Brookwood were the comers at the time and developed into consistent programs...now just about EVERYONE in GWT are straight ballers.

When I was at Berkmar, our championship sports were wrestling and, er, chess.



February 1st, 2013 at 1:17 PM ^

A question....even if conditioning and coaching is further advanced in certain areas, like the south,, wouldn't it be reasonable to surmise that with top quality collegiate S & C programs along with good coaching that catch-up occurs fairly quickly once kids get to college? 


February 1st, 2013 at 1:28 PM ^

The gap on physical development certainly closes in college, but if you are playing a higher level of competition in HS, I imagine they will be more used to the speed and size of opposing players, and they may also be playing more sophisticated schemes. Kind of like a LB coming to Michigan that played D1 ball at Cass Tech or DCC will likely be more prepared than a kid who played at a D8 that played against much smaller O-lines and teams that never threw the ball.


February 1st, 2013 at 2:30 PM ^

Scholarships are directed to the more advanced players in HS. For example, Georgia has essentially the same population (9.8 million) as Michigan but 2.3-3x the number of D1 scholarships.

I don't think Georgia has that much more raw talent in 12 year olds but the development gap is noticeable by the time they're HS upperclassmen, so those kids get offers.


February 1st, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

A couple key differences:

-Georgia's African-American population is about twice Michigan's.  College football is more than 50% black, so black people in general are more likely to get football scholarships than anyone else. 

-There is a significantly higher rate of participation in HS football in Southern states than there is in the rest of the country.  Looking at the overall population data is deceptive.  There are a lot more teenagers playing football there than here.  


February 1st, 2013 at 4:37 PM ^

not correct. I initially thought the #s were skewed to the South, but here is the # of HS football players for 2011 by a few states:

Florida 38,268
Georgia 32,088
Ohio 55,027
Michigan 43,678

Yes, far higher % of African Americans in South but I can't find any data for the differences in scholarship numbers to correlate with ethnicity.


February 1st, 2013 at 1:18 PM ^

There are a lot of things that favor football in the south: demographics, fewer pro teams, football-crazy culture, etc. but I think that when it comes to outdoor sports in general, weather plays a big part. In most of the south, you can play baseball and football year-round. Much of the north and midwest has snow or other prohibitive weather that prevents outdoor play.

Prior to moving to the south, I had never seen a group of kids playing football outside in January. I grew up in the midwest and there are not a lot days from December until March when you can run around outside and practice running routes, so a lot of high school athletes play basketball, hockey, or wrestle and then run track or play baseball in the spring. Also, 7-on-7 camps and tourneys have only begun to get big in the last ten or so years. I understand this has been big in at least Texas for a long time.

Assuming two groups of players from the north and the south play football as often as they can, if you estimate three months lost outside due to weather, a player from the north has missed nearly one year for every four a player from the south has played. You could argue that athletes will play other sports and can do off-season conditioning, but many athletes across the country do this.

I think it kind of shows in the type of northern athletes that are often successful pros in the NFL, mostly OLs, TEs, and LBs. The south and far west tend to produce a lot of DTs and DEs, DBs, and skill position players.

marco dane

February 1st, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

My sons went to school with former Michigan recruit Donvan Tate. Presently,living in Jacksonville,AL (about 60mins from the ATL).

I made a comment,on this board, 2 years ago about recuriting here in the south. I still maintain that the I-10/I-20 corridors has enough talent to win any school a national title. I was ridculed for making that statement by some yahoo,however...someone here in allybama would agree would me. They have the hardware to show for it.


February 1st, 2013 at 6:25 PM ^

I love this article, and I love the highlights the poster provided. There are several reasons the south has exploded in football the past decade. And part of it is that we are handicapped up north in some regards when it comes to high school. In the south they have year round training (we have year round weight-lifting, but there are so many rules against off-season OTA's in MHSAA). They have spring practice (we don't), well paid coaches (I'm a 25 year old varsity assistant and I've been on staff for 5 years, I make $1000/year, and I'm doing football related activities all year long) we get paid barely anything for the time we put in and for as little as we make most people can't afford to put the time in and make almost nothing for it. Sometimes this leads to coaches hiring guys on their staffs who are low-quality coaches (insert like you thought here). There is immense pressure to win (I'd say we are under pressure, but not like for sale signs in your yard pressure), weather conditions (they can run 7 on 7 and do all things outside all year round that we can't). We have draconian rules (We can only work with 5 players and a ball at a time during the off-season). Way more resources for football, and I hate to say more passionate fans but I almost have too. I think it there was the same level of dedication here then the playing field would be a little bit more balanced in terms of production of HS talent.