The college football recruitment process has changed significantly in the last 59 years, but on Wednesday’s first of two National Signing Day’s, Gainesville High School accomplished a feat it hadn’t achieved since 1960 when Billy Martin and Billy Lothridge signed with Georgia Tech.
In 2019, Red Elephants seniors Jordan Williams and Makius Scott put pen to paper on a letter of intent in the Pam Ware Performing Arts Center at Gainesville High, making official Williams’ intent to play to play at Georgia Tech and Makius Scott at the University of South Carolina. It’s the first time since Martin and Lothridge that two Gainesville players pledged their college careers to Power 5 football teams on the same day (TJ Jones committed to Notre Dame on the same day that Blake Sims committed to Alabama in 2009, but Notre Dame’s independent status in football makes today’s Signing Day unique over the last six decades).
“It’s crazy,” Williams said. “It’s not ordinary. Just something I could never have imagined.”
As the pair of linemen — Williams on offense and Scott on defense — signed paperwork, decked out in college apparel matching the schools they’ll be sending their forms out to, Gainesville coach Heath Webb looked on in proud satisfaction.
Webb, who has dubbed his regime at the helm of the Red Elephants as a “love a lineman” program, has wanted to build the team from the trenches out from the beginning. Their signing provided him tangible evidence that the process is working.
“It just shows that the program that we want to build is taking place,” Webb said. “But ultimately, I’m just happy for these two young men.”
Williams chose to go with Georgia Tech for a number of reasons, but the one that comes immediately to mind is to pursue a degree in engineering. He referred to Georgia Tech as his dream school and added that the proximity to home also played a role.
“My mama cook good, so I’m always gonna come back to eat,” he said.
Scott mentioned closeness to home as a reason for choosing South Carolina too, but emphasized the importance of coaching.
He said his relationship with South Carolina defensive line coach John Scott Jr. — who helped Gamecocks defensive end Javon Kinlaw play his way into being named a first-team All-American this season — was an important factor as well.
“He knows what NFL talent looks like, and I think he can push me to the next level after college football,” Scott said.
Williams and Scott helped lead the Red Elephants to the playoffs every year they were at Gainesville, extending a streak that goes back to 2000. They were cornerstones of a program that helped smooth the transition from Bruce Miller to Webb two years ago.
Webb said he was grateful to have inherited them when he was hired in early 2018, a pair of players that he could lean on in the best of times — like during Gainesville’s three-game winning streak this year — and in the worst of times — such as the team’s 0-8 start last season.
“They’re the people that you can build a program around, not just from an athletic standpoint, but from a personal standpoint with the kind of people they are, the kind of young men that they are,” Webb said. “It’s nice when your best players are also your best workers and your best leaders and your best students, all that stuff all rolled into one, which is the reason why they’re Power 5 guys.”