Georgia Has Always Been One of the Nation’s Top-Ranked States for Producing Top-Tier High School Football Players

The state of Georgia has always been one of the nation’s top-ranked states for producing top-tier high school football players and throughout the 2019 college football season, it showed.

Georgia placed 4,400 student athletes onto college rosters last season according to Steve Slay, a researcher for the Georgia High School Football Historians Association. The state consistently ranks in the top 4, nationally, for placing athletes on college rosters and it typically trails football powers like California, Florida and Texas according to the Georgia High School Football Daily/AJC’s Todd Holcomb.

The placement behind some of the other states has led some Twitter spats here and there, according to Walton head coach Daniel Brunner.

“I know there’s been some Twitter wars going on over the last few months up with Texas versus Georgia guys and they get a lot of good people out there,” he said. “But really top to bottom, I think that’s what separates Georgia. Because you can come to Georgia and you can go down the list of any position group and you are going to find some of the best players in the nation here.”

Grayson, a powerhouse in the state’s highest classification, leads Georgia with the most alumni on college rosters (64) ahead of McEachern (53), Buford (49), Stockbridge (46), Mill Creek/Norcross (45), Westlake (43) and Lee County (40).

“I mean, from running backs,” Brunner said, before rattling off the top of his head some of the best players to come through the high school ranks lately. “Alvin Kamara, man. Look at what that guy’s been able to do. You got quarterbacks, Cam Newton and Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. The (Nick) Chubb kid at Hillgrove, to (Justin) Fields at Harrison. There’s just such a deep talent pool that’s come from here.”

In last year’s college football national championship game, 25 players from Georgia played on the Clemson and LSU rosters. Clemson’s former Georgia high school stars included quarterback Trevor Lawrence of Cartersville, cornerback A.J. Terrell of Westlake, James Skalski, a middle linebacker from Northgate and McEachern’s Tremayne Anchrum, a right tackle.  Former Lee County back Tory Carter featured for LSU.

A third of the 4,488 players – 1,441 — stayed in state last year with Reinhardt, Shorter, LaGrange and West Georgia featuring over 100 players from Georgia on their rosters. UGA has 88 in-state players, Tech has 73, Georgia Southern features 93 former Georgia high school players and 267 players are on the rosters at Morehouse, Clark-Atlanta and Fort Valley State, historically black programs.

Georgia is surrounded by top-tier college programs including the University of Alabama to the west, the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt to the north, Clemson and the University of South Carolina to the east, and all of the Florida programs to the south. All these programs, save some of the colleges in South Florida, are merely hours from ‘home’ for some of the outgoing high school athletes.

“I think that’s what’s been so impressive for you look at what Kirby (Smart) has been able to do up there in the recruiting class they put together,” Brunner said about the difficulty of keeping in-state high school talent at home. “What they have been able to do (at UGA) has been so impressive because you think about the Atlanta area that they are recruiting in, and the rest of Georgia, but just look at Atlanta…. If you hop in a car, you are in Auburn in an hour and a half. You are in Clemson in two hours. You are in Tuscaloosa not much further away. Knoxville is a few hours away.”

Four programs that Brunner mentioned – Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Tennessee – ranked in the top-10 for 2020 recruiting classes according to 24/7Sports. Georgia led the group with Alabama second, Clemson third and LSU fourth. Auburn ranked seventh and the University of Florida was ninth. Only Ohio State, Texas and Texas A&M were the non-southeastern programs in the top-10.

Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown (Lanier), Georgia offensive lineman Andrew Thomas (Pace) and Florida Atlantic tight end Harrison Bryant (John Milledge) were first-team All-Americans.

Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship (Sprayberry), Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (Tift), Alabama defensive back Xavier McKinney (Roswell) and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (Harrison) also earned All-American honors last season.

The wide variety of talent is a testament to the state, its coaches, its parents, its fans and, most importantly, its phenomenal athletes.

“I think we’ve got, in our landscape, talent that fits better than most states at every position group,” Brunner summarized. “They go to Florida for speed, they go up north for linemen. I think that’s kind of what makes you know Georgia special is we get a little bit of everything here and then there’s just the competition level at high school that prepares them for the next level.”

Here is a breakdown of the numbers of college players by classification courtesy of the AJC.


Class AAAAAAA (1,096)

Class AAAAAA (890)

Class AAAAA (696)

Class AAAA (542)

Class AAA (420)

Class AA (350)

Class A (373)

Non-GHSA (121)


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