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Buford juniors lead class of 2012
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More notable juniors

Patrick McKibben, Gainesville: The 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman started all 12 games last season. 
Jamond Witt, East Hall: Averaged 9.8 yards per carry last season and is considered one of the top kick-return prospects in the state.
Nathan Staub, Buford: Missed much of last season due to injury, but is expected to be highly recruited at linebacker or fullback.
B.J. Dorsey, Lumpkin County: Recorded 56 tackles. seven for loss, and five sacks last season despite missing three games.

February at Buford High means two things: the girls basketball team is gearing up for another state title run and the defending state champion football team is reloading.

After graduation in May, the Wolves will lose more than 75 percent of their offensive production from last season, but don’t look for that to stop the four-time defending champions of Class AA.

With a rising senior class that is full of college-level players, coach Jess Simpson believes that the team should be able to continue competing for a state title.

“For this group, I’m more interested in how they work on and off the field preparing for their senior season and the legacy they will leave to younger players,” Simpson said. “My hope is that this talented group will protect the process that other Buford teams have embraced.”

Leading the way will be offensive tackle Vadal Alexander. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder is one of the top rising seniors in the state and should play at the Division-I level after high school. Several colleges have shown a high level of interest in Alexander, Simpson said, and the coach expects many more to do so over the summer. According to, Alexander has offers from virtually every major football school in the southeast.

While Buford has lost much of its offensive production from 2010, the team will return a great deal on defense, including its second leading tackler in linebacker Dillon Lee and its interception leader in cornerback C.J. Moore.

Simpson said that Moore and Ryan Dillard, also a rising senior, should make up “one of the best 1-2 combinations at corner in the state,” and that both have been contacted by colleges.

Lee, who reports offers from Alabama, Florida State and Georgia Tech, among others, also had a team-high eight receiving touchdowns at tight end but most likely projects as a linebacker in college.

At defensive end, Buford returns Rick LeGrant, who compiled 43 tackles (18 for loss) and eight sacks last season, and Kurt Freitag, who had seven sacks. Freitag, who has an offer from South Carolina, also caught four touchdowns last season from the tight end position, but like Lee, will stick with defense at the next level. 

The Wolves aren’t the only area team that is returning strong players next season.

At North Hall, rising seniors Imani Cross and C.J. Curry have both received offers from Division-I schools. Cross, who rushed for 586 yards and 16 touchdowns on offense while recording 77 tackles on defense during half a season of action last fall, was recently offered a scholarship to Tennessee.

Curry, a wide receiver, committed to Georgia in October and recently received an offer from Auburn.

Flowery Branch will return receiver Logan Conley, a first-team All-Area and All-Region performer and a second-team selection on the All-State team. Falcons coach Lee Shaw said Conley, who pulled down 59 catches for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, has a great “ability to get open.”

“(Conley) runs great routes and catches everything thrown at him,” Shaw said.

The Falcons also bring back 2010’s leading rusher in Jeremy Haley, also a first team All-Area and All-Region player.

“Jeremy has great vision and burst of speed,” Shaw said. “He does a great job in pass protection and has great hands out of the backfield.”

Haley’s combination of speed and blocking ability has earned interest from several colleges. He rushed for 1,578 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.

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