SEC benefiting from top NC football talent
Posted August 24, 2012
Updated August 26, 2012
Year after year, high school football players are leaving the state of North Carolina to play at other schools in different conferences. The SEC is the big winner of in-state talent, including bagging a pair of running backs that went to Georgia where the Bulldogs have enjoyed an open gate in North Carolina
Recruiting rankings are subjective, but looking at the 2012 Top-10 high school prospects in North Carolina, only Greensboro's James Summers elected to stay in state.
But instead of UNC, Summers enrolled at Hargrave Military academy. Six of the top 10 prospects from 2012 are freshmen in the SEC, including Tarboro's Todd Gurley and Millbrook's Keith Marshall who joined forces at Georgia.
"I didn't really care about that "stay in the state" thing,” said Marshall. “I was trying to look for the best situation for me so I came here."
"(There) wasn't (any) pressure on me,” said Gurley. “A lot of people wanted me to stay in state, but it didn't matter to me."
Both Marshall and Gurley were recruited by North Carolina and NC State, but once they experienced a game day at Georgia, they were hooked.
"The atmosphere here was crazy,” Gurley said. “I had never been to a game like that as far as 90,000 fans screaming and yelling."
"It was a great experience seeing a big SEC game with 92,000 people,” Marshall said. “Everybody (is) coming up to you, wanting you to come here."
Gurley and Marshall aren't the first to cross the NC border and head to Georgia. Current grad assistant coach Dan Inman went from South View High School, in Cumberland County, to start for the Dogs in 2003. He also heard the pitch from the in-state schools to stay home.
"I was committed early my sophomore year to East Carolina,” Inman recalled. “When Coach (Chuck) Amato went to NC State and Coach (Mark) Richt came to Georgia, Coach Amato recruited me real hard. My dad said he wasn't going to watch me walk away from ECU to go to NC State."
Sometimes in-state battles lead to defections. That's not a new story, just one that continues in football.
Looking at the 2013 high school player rankings out of the top 15, 5 have already committed to the SEC. Four will remain in state to play for North Carolina.