Rarely, if ever, has this area produced such a diversified senior class of elite college prospects. Hall County alone had players sign with top college programs in football, baseball and swimming.
While these prized targets were already locked up well before Wednesday’s National Signing Day, it’s still a time to reflect on all the individual achievement for these great athletes.
Gainesville High’s Deshaun Watson, ranked the No. 1 quarterback nationally by ESPN.com, is already signed and enrolled at Clemson University.
North Hall’s Paul Powers, who has won a bunch of state titles in his high school swim career, is already inked with defending national champion Michigan.
And Gainesville outfielder Michael Gettys (No. 15 high school prospect by Baseball America) and White County right-handed pitcher Spencer Adams (No. 21 by Baseball America) have both already signed with Georgia, however neither will likely ever enroll since both are projected to go high in June’s MLB Draft.
Watson was by far the most heralded member of the local signing class for 2014. He’s been on national TV and talked about by media near and far.
His paperwork was filed with Clemson shortly after his senior campaign ended with Gainesville in December, right before he enrolled for spring semester in early January.
He finished his state-record holding career with 3,775 passing yards as a senior and shattered the state record with 13,135 yards through the air for his career, which included the Class AAAAA state championship in 2012.
Powers, who set state high school records in the 50 freestyle and 100 free as a junior, first committed to the Wolverines on June 17 and signed his LOI Nov. 19. Powers will swim the 100 free and 100 backstroke in the GHSA state meet for North Hall this weekend at Georgia Tech.
Gettys, meanwhile, signed with Georgia on baseball’s initial signing day on Nov. 13. He’s projected a power-hitting outfielder at the next level, according to Red Elephants coach Jeremy Kemp, but also a standout right-handed pitcher in high school. As a junior, Gettys hit .406 with four homers and 43 runs, while going 10-1 with a 0.77 ERA on the mound.
Most draft projections have Gettys going high in the first round of the June MLB draft.
Even though most athletes are signed by Feb. 5, with the exception of football players who couldn’t sign until today unless they early enrolled, there was one major surprise locally. West Hall tight end Hunter Atkinson landed a last-minute deal Tuesday with Georgia for football and signed Wednesday in Oakwood.
Still, football signings rule the day.
At Buford, it was a typical bumper crop with 11 signings for the defending state champion Wolves and quarterback Montgomery Van Gorder agreed to a preferred walk-on scholarship at Notre Dame.
Buford’s top signings for 2014 included linebacker Korie Rogers (Clemson), Thomas Wilson (Missouri), wide receiver/defensive back Tre Neal (Central Florida), running back Zavior Hoxie (Boise State) and linebacker Deion King (Princeton).
Despite its large numbers, Buford has had more football players sign football scholarships in previous classes. In 2008, a school-record 13 players signed off of its state championship team, while 12 signed just two years ago in 2012.
Also producing a large signing class was Flowery Branch football with nine signings, led by Western Carolina signees quarterback Jackson McDonald and lineman Andrew Miles.