At 16-years-old, Robert James was an unhappy cornerback at Maryvale High School in Glendale, Ariz.. In fact, he was so disgruntled he almost walked away from the game during his junior year. But eventually he learned to embrace the defensive side of the ball, and sticking with it has paid off. A fifth-round pick in April's NFL draft, James is now fighting for a spot on the Atlanta Falcons depth chart. He spoke with Times sports editor Brent Holloway recently about his football history, overcoming concussion migraines and his family in Mississippi.
Even as a 10-year-old, Curtis Lofton knew that football came easier to him than it did to most people. But coming out of a small town in Oklahoma, he had to convince others of what he already knew. As part of an ongoing series introducing this year's Falcons rookie class, Lofton spoke with Times sports editor Brent Holloway last week about his hometown, the grandmother who raised him and what he's learning as an NFL linebacker.
Though football excellence is in his genes, it took an invitation from his high school coach to get Thomas DeCoud to give the sport a try. The grandson of former 49ers All-Pro John Thomas didn't play organized football until high school - seven years later he was picked by the Falcons in third round of the NFL draft. As part of an ongoing series introducing the Falcons' rookie class, DeCoud spoke with Times sports editor Brent Holloway last week about where he grew up, his background in football and his Guitar Hero habit.
FLOWERY BRANCH - Flowery Branch brought an end to its search for a boys basketball coach Sunday when Duke Mullis was tabbed to take over with the Falcons.
Mullis, who has a career record of 317-150, has coached at Brentwood High School, Middle Georgia College, Chattahoochee High School and most recently served as the head coach of West Forsyth last season.
Two days of cycling action in Northeast Georgia wrapped up Sunday night with the fourth annual Downtown Gainesville Criterium. And like the rest of the weekend, Sunday's pro race was marked by the success of the Toshiba team.
The Falcons have opened their first NFL free agency period under new general manager Thomas Dimitroff with a flurry of moves. The acquisition of former San Diego running back Michael Turner and subsequent release of Warrick Dunn has grabbed the most headlines, but the departure of another former Pro Bowler - tight end Alge Crumpler - leaves the door wide open for West Hall graduate Martrez Milner.
HIAWASSEE - With their chance at the first region title in team history depending on a hard-earned, seven-point halftime advantage, and Jefferson's high-energy defense making points tough to come by inside, Lakeview was forced to look outside for offensive production.
GAINESVILLE - With only two seniors on a Riverside Military Academy roster dominated by underclassmen, a sixth straight state championship was probably too much to ask for. So, it's probably just as well that the team scoring element was removed from this year's Georgia Independent Schools Association traditional wrestling tournament.
Riverside has set the bar for GISA wrestling excellence since 2003, winning five consecutive state championships, but in a transition year, the Eagles would not have been able to keep pace with Windsor Academy, which brought home six individual titles Saturday and also recently won the GISA state duals.
Across northeast Georgia and the rest of the country Wednesday morning, fax machines whirred and buzzed and transmitted the pledges of high school athletes from gyms and media centers where the letters of intent were signed, to the college athletic departments that will soon be like a second home to the former prep stars.