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College is next step for some Bucs and Dogs

The playoffs are over and the season is done. For some Thomson and Briarwood players, college football is next.

Thomson looks to have six players move on to the next level. But according to Thomson Head Coach Luther Welsh, most of those players will have to spend two years at a junior college before possibly transferring to a Division I school.

"Some of them are non-qualifiers. They've got to go to junior college," he said. "They'll get there. ... Most of those people that come out of the junior colleges, they go to Division I, and they become outstanding football players. Gosh, they're two years older, more experienced, stronger, much quicker, more mature, and they're ready to play."

The Thomson players that colleges are currently recruiting are Running Back and Safety Ricky Hill, Punter and Kicker Justin Martin, Running Back Antwan Johnson, Linebacker Justin Callaway, Defensive End Casper Brinkley and Wide Receiver Durrell Jackson.

"They did a good job," said Coach Welsh of the seniors being recruited. "They were very important in our success. They're good football players. We wouldn't have the season we had without them."

Johnson led the team in rushing with 815 yards and Hill was second with 622. Martin averaged 37.4 yards per punt on the season and kicked two field goals; his longest was 47 yards. Jackson caught three passes this season, all for touchdowns.

On defense, Callaway led the team in solo tackles with 81. Brinkley was fourth with 49. Hill also added 31 solo tackles.

As for Briarwood Academy, Head Coach Jimmy Barnett said that there are two players -- Bob Wills and Josh Gardner -- who can make an impact on the collegiate level. Bob Wills accounted for around 1,100 yards of total offense as quarterback. Coach Barnett said Wills would probably be most effective as either a safety or a cornerback.

"The kid's got talent, and I don't think he knows how good he is," said Coach Barnett. "He's such a good athlete, and he's so smart. He'll figure you out."

Wills helped his cause by snatching an interception and returning it 50 yards as a member of the Georgia Independent School Association's all-star team Saturday in Greenville, SC. Wills played most of the game, which pitted the GISA all-stars versus their South Carolina counterparts. GISA won 40-0.

The other player Coach Barnett thinks could be successful at the collegiate level is linebacker Josh Gardner.

"He can play; he's got a nose for the ball, and he's got pretty good speed," said Coach Barnett. "He's always around the ball. Somehow he's there. I think that's Gardner's number one attribute."

Coach Barnett, who has collegiate coaching experience, said that with a few years of development, Gardner could become at the very least a solid role player for a Division II or III school.

According to coaches, players will start signing with colleges after the first of the year.



Web posted on Thursday, December 11, 2003











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