Four Northside players signed national letters-of-intent to play college football at a ceremony Wednesday morning.
Defensive lineman Josh Chester, an All-Middle Georgia selection followed the recent footsteps of Greg Clark (Tennessee), Brison Williams (South Carolina) and Abry Jones (Georgia) to move on to the FBS level by signing with Middle Tennessee State out of the Sun Belt Conference.
Chester had 43 tackles, including seven for loss, and two sacks for the Eagles, who went 13-1 and advanced to the GHSA Class AAAA semifinals. As a four-year starter, he had 120 tackles, 21 for loss, and 11 sacks. Chester also earned second team All-State honors from the Georgia Sports Writers Association.
“It was definitely a relief because the whole process was kind of stressful,” Chester said. “(Between) trying to find the best fit for (me) and one that had my major (he intends to major in nursing) and just trying to feel out the coaches to see if they were good guys or not, I’m just glad it’s officially on paper.”
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The Blue Raiders have found success recruiting in Georgia as the 2011 roster featured 27 players from Georgia -- more than any other state, besting Florida (21) and Tennessee (13). The roster includes Jadareius Hamlin an offensive lineman from Mary Persons. This year’s signing class of 20 features 10 from Georgia.
“I just really liked the coaches; they were down south Georgia guys -- the guy that recruited me, Brent Brock, was from Albany, and he’s a great guy,” Chester said. “The facilities were awesome, the living arrangements were nice, and they have a great academic program there, one of the top in the Sun Belt.”
Offensive lineman D.J. Williams signed with Georgia Military College. Williams, a three-year starter earned all-state and All-Middle Georgia honors. Defensive back Taz Thomas, a two-time all-region player, signed with Hutchinson College, a junior college in Hutchinson, Kan. All-Region wide receiver Miquel Williams signed with Point University out of the NAIA.
Williams, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman graded out at 85 percent and totaled 16 pancake blocks and paved the way for a ground attack that gained more than 3,300 yards. Thomas recorded 62 tackles, three for loss, and picked off three passes. Williams gained 274 yards on the ground and 272 more on 24 receptions. He scored a combined six touchdowns. His 9.1 yards per rushing attempt led the team, and he ranked third on the team in receptions.
“Each and every year, our seniors hand over a tradition to that next group coming up, and these guys were handed that, and they certainly upheld their end of the bargain,” Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler said. “The recruiting process is a roller coaster ride emotionally for parents and players. They have strangers coming up to them talking about what their schools have to offer. It’s almost like being in a room full of salesmen. They all want to sell you their (product).”
The quartet was part of a senior class that went 46-6 in its four years with three region championships, including a 38-2 mark in the regular season.