Transfers changing Georgia’s high school football landscape

FootballThe number of prominent football players who transfer is on the rise. The biggest news of the Georgia football offseason was the transfer of five seniors to Grayson, each rated among the top 100 recruits in Georgia, four in the top 25.

The trend doesn’t sit well with many coaches. A few have sounded off about it in our daily “Four Questions” feature this month.

Chad Phillips of Starr’s Mill called it a “free-agent crisis.” He lost 1,725-yard rusher Rico Frye to Creekside. “We have an out-of-control problem with kids bouncing from school to school to school,” Phillips said.

Phillips wants the GHSA to adopt a policy similar to one in Texas that requires transfers to sit out a year unless their change of residence is more than 75 miles.

Northview head coach Chad Davenport wants in-county transfers to sit out a year. “We have to implement something with teeth that prevents what has happened over the last few seasons,” he said.

Davenport took issue to a Twitter post in May by Grayson linebacker Breon Dixon, who transferred from Peachtree Ridge. The post read: “GHSA can’t do nothing if everything legal and boys that grew up together wanna play with each other … Savages play with savages.”

“When kids go on Twitter and taunt the GHSA and say there is nothing they can do, it hurts our game,” Davenport said.

Decatur coach Scott Jackson lost a couple of key players to Cedar Grove this offseason. “It’s really disturbing that these types of things are more commonplace,” Jackson said. “I guess it’s good for the schools that get them, but it sure sucks for those of use that lose them.”

Grayson coach Jeff Herron essentially inherited the Grayson pilgrimage. Hired in March, Herron said he is not a fan of the trend, but considers it the right of the players and their families.

“Being old-school, I long for days where you stayed at one school your whole life,” Herron said recently. “But the reality of it is that it’s easy in metro Atlanta for parents to move and transfer in a legal GHSA way. And while I’m not a fan of it, neither I nor any other coach is going to tell them they can’t.”

Colquitt County coach Rush Propst said there is no fair way to stop it: “You can’t punish those kids and make them sit out. That’s not what scholastic athletics is all about. What’s the difference in making them sit out a math class, a science class, an English class? Parents are going to put their kids in the best program.”

Here are some of the more prominent transfer moves of the offseason:

*The Grayson five are DB DeAngelo Gibbs (from Peachtree Ridge) and RB/DB Jamyest Williams (Archer), both members of the AJC Super 11 team; OL Tony Gray (Central Gwinnett); LB Breon Dixon (Peachtree Ridge); and RB Kurt Taylor (Newton). Grayson has other, younger transfers, too. One is DL Tru Thompson, a sophomore with offers from Florida State and Florida. He came from Griffin.

*Two of Georgia’s best players transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. They are Norcross DE Robert Beal, a Georgia commit who for a time was rated the state’s No. 1 prospect; and Archer DB Isaiah Pryor, who is committed to Ohio State. Thomson CB Christian Tutt, a four-star prospect in the class of 2018, went to IMG in the winter but since returned to Thomson. IMG will play at Grayson on Aug. 27.

*Central Gwinnett, which lost Gray to Grayson, picked up three prominent transfers. QB Jarren Williams, who is committed to Kentucky, came from Shiloh. RB Josh Samuel, who led South Carolina in rushing with 1,796 yards last season, came from J.L. Mann in Greenville. DT Emmanuel McNeil, the state’s No. 45 senior prospect, came from Riverside Military.

*OG Dylan Wonnum, the No. 10 junior prospect in Georgia, and DB Eugene Brown, a senior committed to West Virginia; and DE Aaron Sterling, who is committed to Alabama, left Stephenson for new Region 4-AAAAAA arch-rival Tucker.

*Decatur will make the two-class jump to AAAAA without WR/CB Dennis Bell, who has several mid-major offers, and RB Grant Walker, a 1,000-yard rusher. They transferred to Cedar Grove, a semifinalist last season in AAA.

*Christian Heritage won its first state playoff game last season. But the Lions will be without RB Ahmaad Tanner, a 1,000-yard rusher, and LB John Wesley Whiteside, who made all-area teams last season. They transferred to Dalton.

*LB Brock Mattison, the No. 65 Georgia prospect among juniors, transferred from Northview to Buford.

*Spencer has lost 17 consecutive games to Columbus rival Carver, but there are signs that rivalry is about to flip. One is the transfer of Carver LB Giovonnia Moore to Spencer. Moore has an offer from North Carolina.

*RB Brandon McMaster, expected to be Camden County’s leading rusher this season, has transferred to Brunswick.

*RB Rico Frye, whose 1,725 yards rushing led a 10-2 Starr’s Mill team, has transferred to Creekside.

*Aquinas, which has amassed a 38-3 record the past three seasons in Class A, lost three of its best players to Grovetown. They are RB D’Angelo Durham (1,382 yards rushing last season); WR Justin Gibbs (Mississippi State offer); and CB Verenzo Holmes Jr.

*Justin Marshall, the fifth-rated WR prospect in Georgia, left Salem for Newton.

*Cartersville got LB Avery Showell (Wake Forest commit) from St. Francis.

*Corey Reed, the sixth-rated WR prospect in Georgia, left Mays for Roswell.

*CB Shawn Shamburger, who has an offer from Auburn, transferred from Theodore in Alabama to Colquitt County. Shamburger, who turned 19 on July 17, is 15 days too old to play in Alabama but legal in Georgia.

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