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.


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  • Rapid Deployment Aug 25, 2012

    Oh don't worry about them leaving. When their playing years (and I mean four),are over, they will be back home, with their great SEC educations, living with mom and pop, competing with thier old cross town high school rivals for a clean up job with parks and recreation.

  • Stillhere36 Aug 25, 2012

    I think its a shame & something I don't quite understand that these kids obviously don't feel any loyalty for or pride in playing for a home state school. I'm sure its impressive & exciting to play in front of 90,000 crazed fans but if you can't relate in any other way to those fans or that school then there's no comparison IMHO.

  • BattlingBishop 5 Aug 25, 2012

    View quoted thread


  • 4tarheels Aug 25, 2012

    Is this really news? Next, there will be an article about how UNC and Duke get top basketball talent from all other the country. Nah, really?

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 24, 2012

    View quoted thread

    I am watching it JGunn. Wilson took a lot of flack from some saying that he didn't pick up the plays quickly enough previously. Some even stated that he was over-rated. He has proven some critics wrong. VT has a reputation of having solid RB's and DB's. Beamer and Foster have done really well. We had 2X's the yardage vs Michigan last season and lost. That's the only kick on Beamer. Bowl games.

    I'm happy for Wilson, Yates, Hosley, Luke Kuechley, Cole, and all of the rest that had a dream.

  • StunGunn Aug 24, 2012

    View quoted thread

    You're right that education is the ticket, but are you watching the Giants/Chicago game? David Wilson is looking really, really good. He may have gotten an education at VT, but you know he got quality coaching from Beamer.

  • StunGunn Aug 24, 2012

    I wish there was a way to keep the talent in North Carolina, but the SEC is tough to compete with. Kids have said when they walk onto the field at an SEC school, it's just "different". It's hard to compete with that, and as a Heels fan, I don't want to see the arms race in athletics heat up; I'd rather see it in the classroom than on the field.

  • VT1994Hokie Aug 24, 2012

    When you look at the top academic schools in the ACC, I think that they will exceed the SEC. Some of these guys think that playing for an SEC school will get them into the Pro's. We all know how many the SEC turns out every year to go Pro. Then, look at the small percentage that will even get an opportunity to make it to the next level. Education is the real ticket.

  • Ken D. Aug 24, 2012

    View quoted thread

    With very few exceptions, the education a quality football player will get in the SEC is just as good as the one he will get in the ACC. The education available to the general student population may be arguably better in the ACC, but that doesn't mean that much to the kid who has a full time job playing football.

  • OGE Aug 24, 2012

    So what these boys are saying is we think we can make it in the NFL so forget a good education.

    Chances are we won't see either of them on Sunday unless they are taking your order at the local Sports bar.




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