Region 4-AA is home to five of Augusta’s eight public high schools. Those eight schools have produced 31 NFL players, almost four per school. For perspective, consider that Buford has only four NFL players to its history.
So while Augusta isn’t known for its high school football – with one state title from its public schools in more than 50 years – there is some tradition there that’s pretty impressive.
Each of the five Augusta schools in the current 4-AA has a former NFL player listed here as its best-ever player – Carlos Rogers at Butler, Leroy Irvin of Glenn Hills, Deon Grant of Josey, Emerson Boozer of Laney and Mike Kelley of Westside.
Laney is particularly impressive in its roster of NFL players. Chip Banks, an all-pro linebacker in the 1980s, and Boozer are among nine Laney alumni that made the league. That’s four more than Gainesville and one fewer than Warner Robins.
Boozer might well be this region’s greatest player. He led Laney to the 1961 GIA state championship and scored the winning touchdown in the title game against Washington of Atlanta. Laney was undefeated that year. Boozer’s high school statistics are largely lost to history, but he did go on to play 10 years in the NFL. He was all-pro in 1967, won a Super Bowl and is a member of the New York Jets Ring of Honor.
If it’s based on what we do know about high school careers, Screven County’s Audrell Grace could be the choice. He was a four-time 1,000-yard rusher who finished with 6,349 yards and 81 touchdowns in his career.
But there’s one player whose high school career includes the state title and the NFL career of Boozer and the well-chronicled high school career of Grace.
That’s Deon Grant. It’s possible that the former Josey safety/wide receiver has the most impressive resume of individual and team accomplishments of a Georgia player in history.
Grant won a high school state title (1995 Josey), a college national title (1998 Tennessee) and a Super Bowl (2011 New York Giants). In high school, he was a two-time first-team all-state pick at two positions, a classification defensive player of the year and an AJC Super 11 pick. In college, he was a consensus All-American, one of fewer than 75 Georgians ever to do that. As a pro, he lasted 11 years in the NFL.
*Butler: Carlos Rogers (1999)
*Glenn Hills: Leroy Irvin (1975)
*Harlem: Hardy King (1961)
*Jefferson County: Fernando Velasco (2001)
*Josey: Deon Grant (1996)
*Laney: Emerson Boozer (1961)
*Screven County: Audrell Grace (1996)
*Westside-Augusta: Mike Kelley (1977)
Best player in school history series
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