Time to look great!
VOLUME 10 ISSUE 6
Positive Change | Pg. 4 Grantham’s departure paves way for major upgrades in Athens.
Wrestling Mania | Pg. 8 Previewing next week’s state traditional wrestling meet.
FEBRUARY 14-20, 2014
YOUR SOURCE FOR SPORTS IN GEORGIA
RECAPPING SIGNING DAY Local stars, colleges wrap up the 2014 recruiting class. | Pg. 5
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Vol. 10 Iss. 6 | February 14-20, 2014
STARTING LINEUP PUBLISHER/EDITOR I.J. Rosenberg
ON THE COVER
INSIDE THE PREPS
ART/CREATIVE DIRECTOR DJ Galbiati Blalock SENIOR MANAGING EDITOR Stephen Black
BUSINESS MANAGER Marvin Botnick
DIRECTOR OF SALES Melanie Snare & MARKETING
BEAT WRITERS Ricky Dimon (Braves) Joe Deighton (Gladiators) Jay Underwood (Hawks) Brian Jones (KSU) Joe Deighton (UGA) Craig Sager II (Falcons) Donnell Suggs (Tech) Jay Underwood (GSU) STAFF WRITERS Ryan Caiafa Alex Ewalt
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Copyright 2014 Score Atlanta Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Score Atlanta is published in print every other week on Fridays and a digital version is posted to ScoreAtl.com in-between print issues. Views expressed in Score Atlanta are not necessarily the opinion of Score Atlanta, its staff or advertisers. Score Atlanta does not knowingly accept false or misleading editorial content or advertising nor is Score Atlanta responsible for the content or claims of any advertising or editorial in this publication. No content (articles, photographs, graphics) in Score Atlanta may be used for reproduction without written permission from the publisher.
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SCORE LIST | NUMBERS GEORGIA STATE | KENNESAW STATE GEORGIA | GEORGIA TECH BRAVES | FALCONS HAWKS | GLADIATORS
COVER PHOTOS COURTESY OF ROB SAYE, THE ATHLETIC IMAGE AND JASON MUSSELL.
ON THE INSIDE AT SCORE Score Atlanta is looking for writing interns. Please e-mail Stephen Black at sblack@scoreatl. com or call 404-256-1572 for more information. The state traditional wrestling championships originally scheduled for Feb. 13-15 have been postponed until Feb. 21-22 due to the weather conditions. However, CSS will televise a highlights show the following week with two hours worth of the top video clips. The broadcasts will be produced by PlayOn! and with help from Team Georgia Wrestling.
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SCORE ATLANTA | www.ScoreAtl.com homerun with new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt had previously served as the defensive coordinator at Florida State, leading them to the 2013 BCS National Championship.
RICHT HIRES ALLSTAR STAFF TO FILL GRANTHAM’S VOID BY JAY UNDERWOOD | JUNDERWOOD@SCOREATL.COM
ost of the time when a coach leaves a M team for another position it is an upgrade over his previous position or a move to advance his career, but this was not the case when Todd Grantham left Mark Richt’s staff for the same position at Louisville. He was the defensive coordinator from 2010-2013 at the University of Georgia and brought to the team a 3-4 defensive scheme. He departed weeks before signing day in a surprise move that left many in shock.
UNDEVELOPED TALENT … Grantham sent many of his players to the NFL during his time at Georgia, including Justin Houston, Alec Ogletree, Jarvis Jones and several others. While he had some of the most talented defenses in the country, he was
not always able to get the most out of them. The past few seasons the offense has been one of the best in the country, but the defense has continually put the team in tough situations. While Grantham may think his defenses were the reason that Georgia claimed the 2011 and 2012 SEC East division crowns, that was not the case. These titles were claimed by the offense even while they were being dragged down by a defense that lacked the fire of the “Junkyard Dawgs” that had defined Georgia for so many years. This coaching change also led for many of his defensive assistants to leave as well. Chris Wilson, Kirk Olivadotti and Scott Lakatos all will be elsewhere this upcoming season, which meant the Mark Richt had to construct a new staff from scratch. He started by hitting a
THE DIMON CLUB
FREEMAN DEAL GIVES POSITIVE VIBE HEADING INTO SPRING TRAINING BY RICKY DIMON | RDIMON@SCOREATL.COM
he Braves’ offseason was uneventful. Not even a record-setting contract can change T that. What it can do, however, is alter the mood
as spring approaches. Last year, Atlanta was giddy (emotions not yet justified by results) for the newly-acquired Upton brothers. This time around, the Braves bring no fresh faces into a new season. They did, however, lock up core players who took them to the 2013 National League East title. Freddie Freeman signed an eight-year deal for a franchise-best $135 million and Jason Heyward inked a two-year contract extension. Suddenly, it looks like the Cobb County-bound Braves are willing to ante up extra cash in anticipation of extra revenue. “I think the great attribute that Cobb County gives us, is it helps us stay competitive,”
general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It gives us the revenues and the additional ability to stay competitive in our division. But this is a comprehensive plan. It’s not just about Freddie, although this is one of the first big steps.” Big steps are not what the Braves made between last season and this one, but recent developments at least give this city hope that they are signs of things to come. More importantly, they give Atlanta hope for 2014. BRACKETOLOGY … The excitement of the unknown is hitting baseball fields throughout Arizona and Florida this week while infusing fan-bases with energy across the nation. On the college hardwood right now, however, blissful anticipation of
PRUITT POWER … He is an up-and-coming talent in the coaching world, and Mark Richt found exactly the right man for the job of rebuilding the Georgia defense. Pruitt is going to make his players work for what they are given which means the complacency of the past seasons should stay in the past. There is plenty of talent on the defense for him to build one of the best in the SEC next season, but he will need help from his staff. He constructed a staff around what he does well and what he is comfortable doing. His first hire was friend and former colleague Kevin Sherrer, who will be in charge of the Sam linebackers and the Star position (a hybrid safety/linebacker position) that will feature Josh Harvey-Clemons this season. Next came Tracy Rocker, who brings SEC playing and coaching experience the defensive line. He was last seen in the college ranks at Auburn coaching All-American Nick Fairley. He should bring a tenacity that has been missing along the line since Rodney Garner left to take Rocker’s position at Auburn. Pruitt finished his staff with Mike Ekeler, who will be coaching the inside
linebackers. These pieces will allow Pruitt to focus on the secondary and work with the young talent in the back end of the defense and develop them to play the schemes that are utilized in his defense. One of the staples of his defense that is different from Grantham’s is that he lets his players play and react to the ball instead of the complicated NFL-like schemes Grantham preferred. Pruitt wants to teach his players to play more instinctually, which will make the defense more effective. It will also utilize the speed that makes Georgia’s players special. As long as Pruitt can instill his methods and ideals into his players, Georgia’s defense will be much improved over the years with Grantham at the helm. With the two leading tacklers in the SEC coming back next season, Pruitt will have two anchors to solidify the middle of the field and to push the ball carriers outside to the athletes on the perimeter. It is very rare that a coach leaves a program on his own free will and the program comes out on top. With Grantham leaving, Richt finds himself with an upgrade at defensive coordinator and a new fire around his football team. The Bulldogs already have momentum on their side and they haven’t even taken a snap with their new coaching staff. Photo courtesy of Rob Saye.
March Madness is based on what we already know. That’s why this city should be buzzing not about the Jackets of Georgia Tech or the Dawgs of UGA, but the Panthers of Georgia State. GSU is a No. 14 seed in Joe Lunardi’s current NCAA Tournament Bracketology on ESPN.com, which he posted on Monday. The Panthers have been to the Big Dance on two previous occasions: 1991 as a No. 16 seed and 2001 under head coach Lefty Driesell. That year, as a No. 11 seed, they upset Wisconsin before falling to Maryland. If current form is any indication, Georgia State may be on course for its third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and second— or more?—victory. Making its debut in the Sun Belt Conference after previously competing in the Colonial Athletic Association, GSU is taking its new league by storm. Head coach Ron Hunter’s squad has won 14 games in a row heading into a Thursday night home date with Texas State. The Panthers are 17-6 overall and 10-0 in the SBC. Among their standouts are sophomore shooting guard R.J. Hunter (19.9 ppg), the coach’s son, and junior point guard Ryan Harrow (17.9 ppg, 4.5 apg), a transfer from Kentucky. With two stars who could log minutes for any team in the nation and a relatively deep roster on which seven players average at least 12 minutes of PT per game and nine see the floor for at least eight minutes
per contest, Georgia State should be able to play with any opponent in the first week of the NCAA Tournament. Still, there can be no looking ahead because the bottom line is the Sun Belt Conference is a one-bid league. No matter how well the Panthers play throughout this month, they will have a four-day season March 13-16 at the SBC Tournament in New Orleans. That is not to say, of course, that the remaining eight regularseason games are of little importance. Far from it. Eight more wins would ensure the Panthers of the No. 1 seed and a double-bye in New Orleans while also putting them in position for something as good as a No. 12 seed in the Big Dance. “We have said all year that we have to take care of business at home and do well on the road,” the elder hunter told GSU’s official website. “So far this season, we have yet to lose at home. We need our students and fans to keep coming out to support us at home so that we can continue to give GSU the best home-court advantage in the league.” Hunter does not have anything to worry about. Nobody will be getting off this bandwagon anytime soon. Photo of courtesy of Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves.
Vol. 10 Iss. 6 | February 14-20, 2014 into recruiting rankings. He gets players that will fit into his system, not the best players in the state or region. However, he did get a future star player in Myles Autry from Norcross. Autry has the speed and ball skills to be a very good A-back in Johnson’s offense. The Jackets also signed North Gwinnett standout C.J. Leggett. With Leggett being a little bigger than Autry, he will get a shot at being the Jacket’s B-back. Other notable signees include CB Qua Searcy (Lamar County), C Andrew Marshall (West Forsyth) and the Austin brothers, Lance and Lawrence (Lamar County). None of the players Johnson signed are highly-rated according to most recruiting services. But this is a solid class that will have no issues buying into the system.
ON THE COVER
LOCAL PLAYERS HIGHLIGHT IN-STATE COLLEGE SIGNING CLASSES BY BRIAN JONES | BJONES@SCOREATL.COM
he 2014 recruiting season has come and gone. It was a wild one, and the state of Georgia was no exception. National Signing Day for the state as well as the Atlanta area was an event to say the least. Two of the top players in Georgia are staying in-state, one local player received a scholarship to Alabama, even though he won’t be able to play football again, and a new school on the block made a big splash with their first signing class. Here’s a recap of what happened on National Signing Day in the metro area. THE BIG BOYS … Georgia only came away with 21 signees, but they got a group that could be the best in the Richt era. The class is lead by defensive end Lorenzo Carter from Norcross. Ranked as the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia by 247 Sports, Carter was a big piece to the Blue Devils’
puzzle that won back-to-back Class AAAAAA state championships. But the Bulldogs weren’t done with top five players in the state. They were able to also sign long-time commitment Nick Chubb. The running back from Cedartown is ranked as the third-best player in Georgia by 247 Sports and rushed for over 2,600 yards and 41 touchdowns his senior season. Other notable signees by the Bulldogs are CB Malkom Parrish (Brooks County), RB Sony Michel (American Heritage (Fla.)) and TE Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte Christian (N.C.)). Overall, the Bulldogs signed three five-star players, 10 four-star players and eight three-star players according to 24/7sports.com. It’s too early to tell if this will be a great class, but if they play like they did in high school, the Bulldogs will be a top contender for the SEC title in the near future. But Tech head coach Paul Johnson is not
BUILDING BLOCKS … Georgia State had a rough 2013 as they finished the year with a 0-12 mark. So the goal for head coach Trent Miles was to continue to build the roster by addressing needs on both offense and defense. And while he admitted they did not fill all the holes with this recruiting class, they are getting closer each year. Stephenson linebacker Malik Ricks is a key signee for the Panthers. The three-star player had 10 tackles for loss last season. His teammate Ari Wertz is looking to make plays for the Panthers at the tight end spot. Wertz was selected to the All-DeKalb team by the AJC. But the top prospect comes from California. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle played at Pierce College and threw for a total of 7,000 yards and 73 touchdowns in two seasons. He attended high school at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif. Kennesaw State does not have any players from California, but they did sign 29 players that look to help get the program in the right direction. Overall, head coach Brian Bohannon did a good job getting players from the state as well as the southeast. And they made one of the biggest signings of the day with Griffin quar-
terback Jaquez Parks. Named as the All-Classification Player of the Year by the AJC, Parks decided to go with KSU instead of taking the Ivy League route. One of the reasons Parks chose KSU is the fact that Bohannon, who played high school football at Griffin, played with Park’s father, O.J. Another top player from Georgia that signed with the Owls is South Paulding quarterback Chandler Burks who was Region 5-AAAAA Player of the Year. Burks was the first commitment and the first signee for the Owls. McEachern’s McKenzie Billingslea and Kell’s Taylor Henkle will also join Parks and Burks in the fall. Billingslea, a defensive lineman, was an All-Region 5-AAAAAA player and Henkle, a defensive back, tallied 104 tackles and six interceptions in 2013. “We signed six total from the greater Cobb area, and we’re excited about that,” Bohannon told the Marietta Daily Journal. “Those kids are not only great kids, they’re great players and they’re close to home. I think you can look at recruiting in a lot of different ways. You can always look at what you didn’t get, or maybe the guys you wish you would have gotten, but I prefer to look at the 29 guys we got, and how excited I am about those guys being here.” ROLL SHAW ROLL … The highlight of NSD comes from Tucker High School where defensive lineman Elisha Shaw signed with Alabama. Why is that a big deal? Because Shaw signed with the Tide on a medical scholarship, instead of a football scholarship. During a preseason scrimmage, Shaw injured his neck and was told he could never play football again. Before he knew about his diagnosis last summer, he listed as Alabama as one of his Top three schools. But when head coach Bryan Lamar contacted Alabama and let them know what was going on, the Alabama coaches decided to take care of him and give him a scholarship where he can be a trainer and still get an education. Photos of North Gwinnett signees and Chandler Burks courtesy of JDMphoto.net.
Former Norcross star and current North Carolina freshman Diamond DeShields dropped 30 points in a win at No. 3 Duke on Monday, becoming the first women’s player to score 30 on Duke since 2009. UNC will host Duke March 2 on ESPN (1 p.m.) and we’ll see if Double-D has another Jordanesque performance ready.
At the state swimming meet last weekend, UGA 2014 signees Gunnar Bentz (St. Pius X) and triplets Mick, Jay and Kevin Litherland (Chattahoochee) were responsible for four different state records and touched the wall with sub-All-American times in every event. The future of Bulldogs swimming is bright.
Millsap started the week by celebrating his 29th birthday on Monday and will end the week playing in the 2014 AllStar game. Millsap has done it all for the Hawks this season and his 17.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds and 20.05 player efficiency rating have earned the power forward respect around the league.
By Craig Sager II
SCORE LIST By Brian Jones
SIGNING DAY FRENZY
Our Signing Day event was a huge success as we had players at five different Taco Macs announce their college-football intentions. Cedartown’s Nick Chubb made an appearance at the Kennesaw location while Rico Johnson was in Sandy Springs. Many thanks to Taco Mac for the hospitality and for letting us use five locations to host a great event.
Georgia came away with only 21 signees on National Signing Day, but two of them are the top prospects in Georgia. Chubb and Lorenzo Carter will be playing in Athens starting this fall and they will have a chance to make an immediate impact. If they can keep a level head and continue to grow, both players will be All-SEC performers by 2015.
A highlight of NSD in the Atlanta area is Kennesaw State’s first signing class. Head coach Brian Bohannon was able to sign 29 players, including Griffin quarterback Jaquez Parks and Kell defensive back Taylor Henkle. There is no telling how this team will look by 2015, but it looks like the Owls are headed in the right direction with those two signings.
RED HOT CATS
The Georgia State basketball team is on fire, winning its last 14 games as of Wednesday. The Panthers are led by R.J. Hunter, Manny Atkins and also by Ryan Harrow, who played for Kentucky last year. Can this team make a run to or even in the NCAA Tournament? Only time will tell, but GSU have proven it is by far the best college hoops team in Georgia.
KIPER ON MURRAY
ESPN Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has said that former UGA quarterback Aaron Murray will be selected in the fourth round of the draft and he will not be an NFL starter anytime soon. I know Murray does not have a skill-set like Matthew Stafford, but there will be a team that gives him a shot to start. And he will take full advantage of the opportunity.
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The Flying Tomato
The Falcons cut NFL veterans Asante Samuel and Steven Nicholas last week and saved the club $6.5 million in cap space. Rookie cornerback Robert Alford and rookie linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu proved to be more valuable and youth does triumph experience in this case.
Another week of chaos has been caused by winter weather in Georgia, but this time postseason play is being affected. The vast majority of the 96 region tournaments (48 boys and 48 girls) have been impacted and teams will be forced to cram in games early next week.
The pressure of being a twotime Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe and having to wait four years for a chance to make it a three-peat seems unimaginable. Unfortunately, Sean White fell short this year at the Sochi games and placed fourth. At the ripe age of 27, many consider this the end of an era.
OUR TWO CENTS
By Stephen Black
Our email newsletter is something we take a lot of pride in at Score. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a high school sportsheavy publication that we produce each day to fill in our readers on the latest happenings in Georgia prep sports. We send it out Monday through Friday throughout the year and Monday through Saturday during the fall. Not only do we cover popular sports like football, basketball and baseball, we also cover every other varsity sport the GHSA fields. If you like Georgia high school sports at all, sign up for our email newsletter by visiting www.tinyurl.com/scorenewsletter and enter your email address(es) that you’d like added to the distribution list.
THE STATE OF GEORGIA SAW 222 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYERS SIGN WITH DIVISION I COLLEGE PROGRAMS ON SIGNING DAY. WHICH THREE STATES HAD MORE? ANSWER ON PAGE 14
SANITY AT LAST
“When you’re playing and you’re winning, you are going to have some games where you don’t play well. The sign of a good team is when you don’t play well and win.” Georgia State hoops coach Ron Hunter on his team’s 14th consecutive win, a 68-57 triumph at Arkansas-Little Rock.
Kennesaw State football signees from Georgia
UGA football signees who played high school football in the Peach State
Tech signees from Georgia high schools
Division I college football signees from the state of Georgia
The state of Georgia’s ranking nationally for most college football signees.
Years since Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record. The Braves will wear a patch commemorating the event through the 2014 season
Straight wins by Georgia State’s basketball team
Total wins by the Panthers last season
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LOOKING AHEAD TO THE TRADITIONAL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS BY CRAIG SAGER II AND STEPHEN BLACK
he state traditional wrestling championships have been postponed until Feb. 21 and 22. As of press time, a site has not been determined as The Arena at Gwinnett has a scheduling conflict. The state traditional wrestling championships feature some of the same powerhouse teams and individuals as last month’s duals. However, next weekend’s events will be scored differently as the emphasis is more on the individual than the team. Each weight class will feature both individual and team champions. CLASS AAAAAA ... Archer won its first state championship last year and has shown no signs of slowing down. The Tigers tore through meets this season on an even faster pace than last year. Coach Tom Beuglas’ team qualified wrestlers for the sectionals in each classification and had 11 area champions.
Archer is the prohibitive favorite in Class AAAAAA, but Collins Hill, Camden County and Chattahoochee could make a run at the Tigers. Camden County, the runner-up at the state duals meet last month, qualified 13 grapplers for the state meet, one less than the maximum possible. No. 3 Collins Hill will have seven wrestlers competing this weekend, led by top seeds Ryan Millhof, Michael Roquet, Codi Russell and Sean Russell. The Cougars are ranked No. 4 in the state and have qualified eight wrestlers. CLASS AAAAA ... Pope has won traditional state championships the last three years, two in Class AAAA and one in Class AAAAA. The Greyhounds also took the duals state title in January, but suffered injuries late in the season. Cambridge, in its second year as a program, defeated the Greyhounds in the area meet to take over at
Pre-State Meet Score Atlanta Wrestling Rankings Class AAAAAA
1............................. Archer 2...............Camden County 3....................... Collins Hill 4................Chattahoochee 5...........................Grayson
1...................... Cambridge 2... Woodland-Cartersville 3................................ Pope 4......................... Allatoona 5.......................Creekview
6.................. North Forsyth 7..................South Forsyth 8................North Gwinnett 9.............................Etowah 10.............. Mountain View
No. 1. Pope and Cambridge each qualified nine wrestlers for the state traditional meet. Pope’s Jake Adcock and Jake Henson are the Greyhounds’ top two seeds while Cambridge has three: Brandon Filosi, Devin Kane and J.R. Salemi. CLASS AAAA … Gilmer is the headliner in this classification. The Bobcats have won five state traditional championships since 2005. But Cass gave Gilmer a battle in the dual state championship, losing by one point to the Bobcats, 30-29. Lithonia has burst onto the scene this year with a bevy of impressive meet wins. The Bulldogs captured the DeKalb Championships, the Last Man Standing meet and the Area 6 championship. Coach Patrick Ryan’s squad comes into the state traditional meet ranked No. 3. CLASS AAA ... Buford made history by capturing its first wrestling state title this season with a 44-23 win over region-rival Banks County in the duals state championship. The Wolves doubled their state qualifiers this season with eight state participants. Chandler Pyke is Woodward Academy’s lone defending individual state champion back at state and the senior will wrestle at 152 pounds this year after winning the state title in the 132-pound class as a junior. Pyke also won an individual state title at 126 pounds his
Class AAAA 1..............................Gilmer 2..............Lumpkin County 3........................... Lithonia 4........................Alexander 5.................................Cass 1............................. Buford 2..................Banks County 3................Morgan County 4.......Woodward Academy 5......................Sonoraville
CLASS AA ... There is no other school in Georgia more dominant in a sport or more decorated in state titles than the Jefferson Dragons have been on the mats. Jefferson has swept state titles the past 12 seasons and took a 45-18 victory over Bremen in this year’s duals finals to set the stage for consecutive sweep No. 13. The Dragons qualified 12 wrestlers for state last season and will bring 11 wrestlers to the championships this year. Bremen will be Jefferson’s top competition and the Blue Devils match Jefferson with 11 grapplers in this year’s tournament. CLASS A ... Commerce has seemingly burst onto the scene in Class A this year with a state dual title., but Gordon Lee and Holy Innocents’ are also favorites in the state’s smallest class. Three seniors won individual state titles for Holy Innocents’ last season and the Golden Bears will rely on a new class of stars, including Liam Quigley, who finished second last season at 145 pounds as a freshman. Photos courtesy of Sonny Kennedy, the Athletic Image and Rob Saye.
Class AA 6........................ Carrollton 7.......................Glenn Hills 8........................ Chestatee 9.............................. Marist 10........... South Effingham
Class AAA 6....................Ware County 7......................Whitewater 8................................... Ola 9........... Effingham County 10...............Clarke Central
sophomore year. The N.C. State-commit has posted at least 70 wins in all four of his varsity seasons and just broke his older brother Chad Pyke’s career pins record at 58 during sectionals last week.
1.........................Jefferson 2............................Bremen 3....................Social Circle 4................Toombs County 5..................................GAC
6...............................Lovett 7...................East Laurens 8...........................Spencer 9.........................Pepperell 10................. Westminster
Class A 6.........................St. Pius X 7...................Elbert County 8................Oconee County 9........................ North Hall 10.............. Blessed Trinity
1.......................Commerce 2......................Gordon Lee 3..................Turner County 4....................... Darlington 5.............. Mt. Zion-Carroll
6...............Holy Innocents’ 7............. Athens Christian 8.....Strong Rock Christian 9..................Mount Vernon 10......Eagle’s Landing Chr
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UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
GEORGIA’S RECRUITING HAUL INCLUDES NORCROSS’S CARTER BY JOE DEIGHTON | JDEIGHTON@SCOREATL.COM
ark Richt and the UGA defensive coachM ing staff got their man. Lorenzo Carter, one of the top prospects in the state of Geor-
gia and even one of the most coveted recruits in the country, signed last Wednesday to play football in Athens. Carter is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive end out of Norcross High School. He turned down offers from Florida State, LSU and Florida, among others. Carter led Norcross to the Class AAAAAA state championship in 2013, while leading the team with 132 tackles and 40 for loss. He is one of the most athletic defensive players in the nation, with a vertical leap of 42 inches. Carter also plays center for the Norcross basketball team. Georgia’s revamped defensive staff, which includes Jeremy Pruitt as coordinator, should have a good foundation with Carter at defensive end. The Bulldogs’ recruiting class features 21 prospects and it is ranked eighth in the nation according to 247sports. HOT HOOPS … The Bulldogs’ basketball team bounced
HOOPS WINNING STREAK HITS 14 BY JAY UNDERWOOD | JUNDERWOOD@SCOREATL.COM
he winning streak is up to 14 games and the Panthers are rolling along. R.J. Hunter is 30th in the country in scoring as of Wednesday, putting up 19.9 points per game while proving that he is one of the best scorers in college basketball. Hunter, the son of head coach Ron Hunter, went for 31 points in a game against Texas-Arlington earlier this month. After their game on Thursday against Texas State, the Panthers will have seven games remaining in conference play and are looking to finish the season on an even bigger winning streak. If Georgia State can go into the Sun Belt Conference Tournament undefeated in league play, it will be favored to make the NCAA Tournament. The importance of claiming one of the top two seeds in the conference tournament cannot be understated, as that would earn GSU a double-bye all the way to the semifinals. FOOTBALL RECRUITS … The football team finished with the 100thrated recruiting class according to 247sports,
back this week with two double-digit wins against conference opponents. Victories over Texas A&M and LSU pushed UGA’s SEC record to 6-4 and the team remains in position to capture one of the top four seeds in the SEC Tournament. Sophomore guard Kenny Gaines led the charge against the Aggies, scoring 14 points to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and a block. Forward Donte` Williams had a team-high 10 rebounds in the 62-50 win. Two games this week against Mississippi State and Ole Miss should give the Bulldogs a good chance to add to their conference record. Results of Wednesday’s road contest at Mississippi State were not available at press time. Ole Miss. Meanwhile, is ahead of UGA by just a half-game in the SEC standings as of Wednesday. LADY DAWGS ROLL … The women’s basketball team notched a big win in conference play when it defeated Ole Miss 84-63 on Sunday. The Lady Bulldogs had a tremendous first half, scoring 48 points. Guard Erika Ford was among five UGA players with double-digit points, scoring a team-high 16. Sydnei McCaskill scored 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Shacobia Barbee helped the cause with seven rebounds and a gamehigh six steals. The Lady Dawgs (16-7, 4-6 SEC) will travel to College Station to face the Texas A&M Aggies this week. This is the second game between the two teams, with the Aggies beating the Lady Dawgs 58-44 earlier this season in Athens.
which uses a composite score of all the recruiting sites to rank players. The Panthers signed eight three-star recruits and finished with a class of 25 student-athletes, including five who are already enrolled. One of those players is Nick Arbuckle, who is the top- rated junior college pro-style quarterback. Arbuckle and incoming freshman Emiere Scaife will have the opportunity to compete for next season’s starting quarterback job when they arrive on campus. The Panthers were also able to get six players who will compete in the trenches and add to the depth for which head coach Trent Miles has been looking. This will allow for his teams to be more physical in years to come and shows where his focus is on taking this team to the next level. Miles was also able to get two hard-hitting linebackers to strengthen the run defense while also getting secondary help to give the pass-rushers more time to pressure the quarterback. Georgia State also seems to be establishing a connection with Stephenson High School to create a pipeline of talent. With three players in this class and the offers pouring out for the class of 2015, this connection could pay dividends sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Albert Wilson is the first Georgia State alum to ever be invited to participate in the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Wilson caught 71 passes last season for 1177 yards and eight touchdowns.
RECRUITING RECAP, HOOPS UPDATE, BASEBALL NEWS BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM
he Yellow Jackets were one of the last DI T schools in the country to finalize their 2014 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Nor-
cross playmaker Myles Autry made his announcement live on television late Wednesday afternoon that he would join his brother Anthony Autry (a sophomore receiver on the team). Myles capped off a 21-player class that ranks 54th in the nation and 12th in the ACC according to 247sports rankings. Myles is a versatile playmaker that helped Norcross to back-to-back state titles in Georgia’s highest classification. In the semifinals, the running back/receiver hauled in a game-winning touchdown pass to beat Colquitt County and in the state championship he returned a kickoff for a 92yard touchdown and sealed the game with a 69-yard touchdown reception. Norcross wideout Clinton Lynch was also signed in this year’s class. Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania are all represented in this class, with 10 players coming from the Peach State.
FOOTBALL PROGRAM SIGNS FIRST RECRUITING CLASS BY BRIAN JONES | BJONES@SCOREATL.COM
5 was a big day for the Kennesaw State Fballeb. Owls, as the first signing class for the footteam was introduced. For head coach Brian Bohannon, the day started at 6:30 a.m. when he and the rest of the coaches arrived at the coaches’ offices across the street from campus. They were waiting for the first National Letter of Intent, which came at 7:01 a.m. The last one came at 11 a.m. and when it was all said and done, 29 players signed to become Owls. “We are extremely excited about the group of players who have signed and made the commitment to become the foundation of the program and make history,” Bohannon said at his press conference. “We accomplished a lot with this class and are looking forward to getting them on campus and start working with them.” The signing class is led by Jaquez Parks, who was named the AJC All-Classification Player of the Year. The quarterback led Griffin to its first outright state title. South Paulding quarterback Chandler Burks, the Region
North Gwinnett running back C.J. Leggett is a power back that could potentially see time early in his career. Leggett rushed for 1,734 yards, including 840 yards in the playoffs for the Bulldogs and finished the season with 23 rushing touchdowns. Callaway’s KeShun Freeman is another member of the 2014 class that came from instate and the 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker finished his senior season with triple-digit tackles and owns a 4.0 GPA. HOOPS FREEZE … With just seven men’s games left and five women’s games left in the regular season, the Yellow Jackets were forced to postpone this week’s contests due to inclement weather. The men were slated to play Boston College on Wednesday and were looking for the season sweep after topping the Eagles 68-60 in January. The game was pushed back to Thursday, but results were unavailable by print date. The 18-6 lady Yellow Jackets were set to host Virginia on Thursday, but the game was pushed back to Friday. BATTER UP … Friday marks opening day for the 2014 baseball season and Tech will host Old Dominion, VCU and Radford in the Battle in Midtown this weekend. The Yellow Jackets play Old Dominion on Friday, Radford on Saturday and VCU on Sunday. The visiting teams will each square off in six total games at Russ Chandler Stadium this weekend.
5-AAAAA Player of the Year, was the first signee. The Owls also landed Kell defensive back Taylor Henkle, who recorded 104 tackles and six interceptions last year. After Bohannon finished with the press conference, the coaches, athletic director Vaughn Williams, Vince Dooley and supporters of the program got together in the coaches’ office for a reception. Food and drinks were available and the supporters got a chance to get a closer look at all 29 signees as Bohannon showed highlight videos of each player. OTHER FOOTBALL NEWS … Signing Day was not the only thing Bohannon had to get done. He had to complete the coaching staff and he did that as he announced the addition of five new assistant coaches. Chris Bland (defensive backs), Stewart Cook (tackles/tight ends), Mike Daniels (wide receivers), Kevin Downing (defensive ends) and Cody Worley (quarterback) will help Bohannon get things going in 2015. “I am excited to complete the coaching staff and add five quality men to the program,” Bohannon told ksuowls.com. “They all bring unique and special qualities to the program and provide the characteristics that are important as we build the foundation for what Kennesaw State football will represent.” While that was going on, the home schedule was being finalized as the Owls added Edward Waters College and Point University. The Owls will play Edward Waters in the home opener on Sept. 12 and they will face Point on Oct. 10.
Vol. 10 Iss. 6 | February 14-20, 2014 ATLANTA HAWKS
HAWKS QUIETLY APPROACH TRADE DEADLINE BY JAY UNDERWOOD | JUNDERWOOD@SCOREATL.COM
ith the trade deadline approaching, there is a lot of noise surrounding the Hawks and whether or not they are going to make a move. Most of the NBA talks are just rumors and have centered on the 76ers and Celtics. The has been speculation that the Hawks are looking at Evan Turner and Jeff Green, but neither one appears to fit the team’s scheme or work with where Atlanta is going in the future. General manager Danny Ferry has shown in the past that he is not willing to sacrifice the future for the present and there is no reason to think that will change anytime soon. RECENT STRUGGLES … The team has struggled recently, having lost its last four games going into Wednesday’s road contest with the Toronto Raptors (results were not available at press time). The slide began last Tuesday against Indiana and also includes setbacks against New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago. Once Pero Antic comes back healthy, that
BRAVES SIGN FREEMAN, HEYWARD TO EXTENSIONS BY RICKY DIMON | RDIMON@SCOREATL.COM
he Braves avoided arbitration with Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward and they did so in a big way last week. Freeman signed a franchise-record $135 million contract, spanning eight years, while Heyward inked a twoyear, $13.3 million deal. To say those are encouraging developments would be an understatement. Not only do they lock down two young members of the team’s core for multiple seasons, but they also help erase the pain of what had been a previously lackluster offseason. While National League East rival Washington continued to load up on talent, Atlanta’s most notable additions had been backup catcher Ryan Doumit and possible fifth starter Gavin Floyd. That all changed when general manager Frank Wren secured Freeman, who batted .319 last season with 23 home runs and 109 RBIs. After three full seasons plus some of a fourth, the first baseman is a career .285 hitter with 68 homers, 280 RBIs and 250 runs scored.
will allow the rotation to go back to normal. For the time being, though, Gustavo Ayon has performed admirably during Antic’s absence. While Ayon is not going to put up double-digit points, he will do the little things such as space the floor, find the open man and compete on the boards. TOP PLAYERS … The most impressive player this season continues to be Mike Scott; not because he is the best player or putting up the most points, but because of how much he has improved from last year. He has worked his way into valuable minutes off the bench and—when paired with Elton Brand—makes up part of one of Atlanta’s more productive duos. Before the loss to Memphis last Saturday, Scott had gone 13 straight games scoring double-digit points and if not for a nine-point outing at Brooklyn on Jan. 6 it would have been 16 straight. Paul Millsap continues to be the catalyst of the team. Not including the two games against the massive front line of the Indiana Pacers, Millsap has performed well on the offensive end throughout the 2013-14 campaign. If he keeps this pace up, the Hawks will have a very bright outlook next season, bringing Al Horford back from injury and adding whomever they pick in a deep draft. Next season will also bring a year of experience under the belt of Dennis Schroeder plus the possible additions of 2013 draft picks Mike Muscala and Lucas Nogueira.
“Freddie has established himself as one of the best young talents in the game,” Wren told the team’s website. “We are excited to sign one of our own homegrown players to a contract that will keep him in a Braves uniform for the next eight seasons.” PITCHERS AND CATCHERS … Pitchers and catchers reported to Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Thursday and the first workout of spring training is taking place on Friday. Position players are not required to report until next Tuesday, but a few have already arrived. Freeman, who was famously rescued by Chipper Jones in the winter storm two weeks ago, fled Atlanta prior to this week’s latest installment of weather problems. He was already in Florida on Monday along with Doumit, Evan Gattis, Ramiro Pena and a few pitchers. “It’s awesome to get down here,” Gattis told atlantabraves.com. “You get to see all the familiar faces you haven’t seen in a while. The weather is great here. I’m just looking forward to a good spring and a good season.” Gattis took the baseball world by storm at times last season as a 26-year-old rookie (he turned 27 in August). He went deep 21 times and drove in 65 runs despite recording only 354 at-bats. Barring injury or an unforeseen slump, “El Oso Blanco” will see more playing time in 2014 now that former Braves’ catcher Brian McCann is with the New York Yankees.
FALCONS CLEAR UP CAP SPACE BY CRAIG SAGER II | CSAGER@SCOREATL.COM
he Falcons freed up $6.5 million in cap space by releasing veterans Asante Samuel and Stephen Nicholas. Samuel joined the Falcons in 2012 and hauled in five interceptions, including a 79-yard return for a touchdown. However, the 33-year-old cornerback was replaced on the depth chart by rookie Robert Alford in 2013. Nicholas missed just two games with a thigh injury last year, but rookie linebackers Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow made Nicholas disposable. Nicholas was a 2007 fourth-round pick by Atlanta and led the team in tackles in 2012. With two defensive veterans getting the pink slip, 32-year-old defensive end Osi Umenyiora expressed his desire to remain in Atlanta this week. “I understand the business pretty much as well as anybody in football right now,” Umenyiora said in an interview with ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. “I would love to stay, and I think I am. But you really never know what’s going to happen.”
GWINNETT NETS MIRACULOUS COMEBACK AT FLORIDA BY JOE DEIGHTON | JDEIGHTON@SCOREATL.COM
he Gladiators found themselves trailing the Florida Everblades 4-1 late in the second period of last Friday’s road game. It looked all over for the Glads, but that’s when they mounted an incredible comeback. Bobby Hughes and Casey Pierro-Zabotel trimmed the deficit to one with goals in the second and third periods. At that point things got seriously interesting. Gwinnett took a penalty to put Florida on the power play, but Evan Bloodoff turned the tables on the Everblades with a short-handed goal to tie the game with just fewer than five minutes left in regulation. Florida quickly recovered to take the lead back 5-4. Marshall Everson tied the game for the Gladiators with 3:26 remaining. Finally, defenseman Daniel Spivak took a slap-shot from the blue line through traffic and it found the back of the net to give the Gladiators a 6-5 win in overtime. It was the first win for Gwinnett in overtime without going to shootout this season.
Umenyiora signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract last offseason with a max value of $12 million and his release could save the Falcons $3.5 million this season. The two-time Super Bowl champ has been a great mentor to young defensive ends Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman. With another defensive end and pass rusher on top of the Falcons’ wish list this offseason, having Umenyiora to help mentor—for example—a young Jadeveon Clowney could be valuable. HISTORIC PICK … Missouri defensive end and 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam made world news earlier this week by announcing he was gay. His presence in this year’s NFL Draft will make it a historic occasion that will draw international attention. While the Falcons are just one of 32 teams with a chance to draft Sam, their coaching staff already got the opportunity to work with him at the Senior Bowl this offseason. “You know what he [Sam] was in college in terms of big plays that he made for Missouri,” said Atlanta defensive line coach Bryan Cox. “You look at the [Cotton] bowl game when he had the big strip at the end of the game to win it for the team. So you know that he has some pass-rush ability.” Former Missouri Tigers Sean Weatherspoon and William Moore are starters on the Falcons’ defense and would be good leaders if Atlanta was to draft Sam.
It was also Spivak’s first goal with the Gladiators and his first in the ECHL. The Glads are 18-26-3, which leaves them with 39 points in the ECHL standings. Next up the schedule for Gwinnett is a pair of road games against Orlando this Friday and Saturday. SPECIAL PLAY … One of Gwinnett’s weaknesses earlier this season was the failure to kill penalties. However, over the last 17 games, the Glads penalty kill has been one of the league’s best. The Gladiators have allowed just nine power-play goals in the last 74 power-play chances. The improvement on special teams has the Gladiators ranked fifth overall in ECHL penalty killing. One of the reasons for the better play is the fact that the team is drawing fewer penalties. Gwinnett ranks fourth in the ECHL with 12.79 penalty minutes per game. STAR ROOKIE … Everson is in his first year in the ECHL and has come alive over the past 13 games, tallying 12 points. The forward has scored seven goals and notched five assists over that span and he has been one of the go-to players on the power-play for the Gladiators. In 28 games with the Glads, Everson has 12 goals and 10 assists. He leads all active forwards in the ECHL with a 24.9 shooting percentage. Everson played college hockey at Harvard, where he majored in governmental studies.
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