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Football: Area athletes become All-Stars

POSTED: January 6, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Gainesville High senior receiver Gerald Ford was in for the surprise of his life when he met with Red Elephants coach Bruce Miller recently.

He wasn’t in trouble. In fact, quite the opposite.

Ford was getting the news he was singled out from his team for a postseason honor for his accomplishments on the field this season.

The Times 2007 First Team All County receiver was informed he would be playing in the GACA North-South All Star Game on Saturday in Columbus. The GACA North-South Game tries to pinpoint the top 80 players (40 on each team) in the state that aren’t already on a roster for another all-star showcase.

For Ford, it was just the news he was waiting to hear.

"When I found out I ran out of the office I was so excited," Ford said. "Me and my brother (Calvin Smith) were so excited that we were bouncing off the walls together.

"My receivers coach (Todd Wofford) told me about this game at the start of the season, and I played for this all season long."

Ford is just one of many local players suiting up to play in all-star football games. Also filling out the 40-player roster of the North squad are Flowery Branch quarterback Jaybo Shaw, along with North Hall’s Bobby Epps and Hunter Wolf, Commerce quarterback Reuben Haynes and Habersham Central’s Wesley Hulsey.

Buford defensive tackle Omar Hunter and Habersham Central linebacker Daniel Franklin are going to play in the ESPN Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 5 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. That game comes with all the bells and whistles for the best players from all corners of the country, including five days of practice together, a skills challenge and a national television audience.

Everybody has a different motivation for wanting to play in an all-star football game. This is a time when they could be lounging around enjoying Christmas vacation from their senior year of high school. For many, the season just ended in recent weeks.

But Gainesville’s senior wide receiver wouldn’t miss out on this opportunity for anything.

Ford gets giddy with excitement just thinking about the opportunity of getting to dress out with some of the state’s most decorated football players. It just shows how far he’s progressed as a college football prospect in only one season starting high school football.

Ford already has all the physical tools to play at the next level standing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. He’s also put up the numbers with 1,289 receiving yards this season.

Ford is only waiting for qualifying ACT score results to bring in official scholarship offers. Right now he is receiving interest from UAB, Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Louisville, South Carolina, Memphis and Central Florida, according to Rivals.com.

Ford and the rest of his teammates will have two days to practice together before Saturday’s game. The North roster is coach by Morgan County High athletics director Kenny Moore.

"I’m very exciting knowing that there are going to be so many colleges at the game to see me play," Ford said. "I want to be able to show them what I can do."

Not all of the local players are going to All Star games still looking for a ticket to the next level.

Shaw, a Times 2007 All County First team selection, is already verbally committed to Georgia Tech. He’s at the point now where he can start thinking about meeting and mingling with his future Yellow Jackets teammates.

And if Shaw can sway a players decision toward Georgia Tech, then he’ll take that too. He’s still working on players like his friend T.J. Pridemore from neighboring Buford to make sure he’s still coming to Georgia Tech. He would also like to convince Chamblee’s big offensive tackle Omoregie Uzzi to play with him at the next level.

"It’s a tremendous honor to get to play in this game," Shaw said. "I want to showcase the talent along with the guys from North Hall and Gainesville that play here in 7-AAA."

Shaw is going to start the game as quarterback, but still doesn’t have any indication how long he will play. Haynes is going to play second at quarterback for the North. According to Shaw, the offensive game plan is going to entail throwing out of the shotgun formation and a heavy dose of running out of the Wing-T.

"I don’t know anyone better to run the Wing-T offense with than Bobby Epps and Hunter Wolf," Shaw added. "It’s going to be a great experience."



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