As I said last week, the choices just keep getting tougher.
Outside of Nos. 81, 87 and 88, there were no clear-cut picks.
We waffled back and forth on three numbers, Nos. 80, 83 and 86.
But first, I’ll give a little insight into our decision-making process.
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I first thought we would conduct this project solely by looking at high school careers, but that’s tough to do. You can’t really ignore a great college or professional career. Most of these guys and girls had great prep careers, and that is still the starting point. We do look at the big picture, and college and pro achievements can be the deciding factor.
Now at No. 80, we had five all-state high school players. Ben Utt and Ulysses Norris both had lengthy professional careers. We picked Craig Ogletree because of his dominance in high school and in college. That same thought process came into play at No. 89 with Benji Roland.
We picked both Mack Guest and Hugh Nall to be our No. 83 at various times during the selection process. Guest got the pick because of his all-state prep career and an All-SEC stint at Georgia.
I’d guess that our pick of Nick Eason over Ronnie West at No. 86 would be the most controversial selection this week. West was The Telegraph player of the year as a senior at Wilcox County, and he was named the best player in Division II at Pittsburg State. Eason was an all-state high school player, an All-ACC pick at Clemson, and he has played 10 years in the NFL. The lengthy NFL career helps Eason, and we also took into account the difference in the level of play between the ACC and Division II. I’m not sure there was a right or wrong pick here. Tough choice.
We never could locate the number of Jeff Harper, the former Monroe Academy standout who signed with Alabama and later played on Georgia’s national championship team in 1980. His former coach Edgar Hatcher wasn’t sure of the number, but thought it was No. 89. We couldn’t verify the number, so we didn’t include him because we weren’t sure. For what it’s worth, we came to the decision that, even if Harper did wear 89 and we verified it, Roland would still have been the pick.
Here’s a look at some of the others we considered, either through nominations or research.
Wayne Bonner, Baldwin, football: Bonner had an all-state career at Baldwin before playing college football for Marshall.
Devon Pike, Northside, football and soccer: Pike authored one of the more memorable moments in Northside history when he made the game-winning field goal in the Georgia Dome to cap the Eagles’ comeback win over Tucker in 2007.
Jimmy Hammond, Willingham, football: Hammond followed a standout high school career by earning three letters at Tennessee-Martin.
Leonard Floyd, Dodge County, football: Floyd made two consecutive All-Middle Georgia and all-state teams – one as a tight end and the other as a defensive lineman – during his career at Dodge County. He is headed to Georgia.
Willie Goolsby, Willingham, football and basketball: Goolsby was one of the first black athletes at Willingham, where he excelled in multiple sports. He attended Carson-Newman and now serves as a successful girls basketball coach at Southwest.
Trey Ennis, Tattnall Square, football: Ennis had an all-state career on defense for the Trojans.
Roderick Adams, Crisp County, football: Adams was named Class AAA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and signed with Clemson.
Charlie Simmons, Southwest, football: Simmons left Southwest and then eventually lettered for three years at Georgia Tech, including the 1994 season in which he led the team in receiving.
Colby Andrews, Tattnall Square, football: Andrews led a defense that helped Tattnall go undefeated in 2007, and he then signed with Valdosta State.