Credit: 247Sports and Rivals
Football Fridays In Georgia: Top Teams, Players, and Coaching Moves For The 2021 Season
The Football Friday's In Georgia podcast kicks off its weekly schedule with a preview of the top teams, players and coaching moves for the upcoming 2021 season. Hosts Hannah Goodin and Jon Nelson are joined by GPB play-by-play announcer Matt Stewart who breaks down his surprise picks for the top of the 7A classification. Georgia High School Football Daily newsletter creator Todd Holcomb also joins the team to discuss some of the biggest coaching moves from the offseason.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays In Georgia Podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for hanging out with us. It's another season of Jon and Hannah on a weekly basis, letting you know everything that's going on here when it comes to high school football in the state of Georgia. And we're doing things a lot differently this year. Hannah, go ahead and explain.
Hannah Goodin: We are just in time for the weekly podcast version of the season. We have all of our technology working. We can talk to the producers...
Jon Nelson: They can talk to us, and everybody can hear it, So..
Hannah Goodin: We're on video. We are on the YouTube sports page, the GPB Sports YouTube channel. But I wish I would have known we were going to be on video this morning I might want to have gussied up a little bit more.
Jon Nelson: I would probably brought in some powder for my shiny crown that I've got here, trying to figure
Hannah Goodin: hairs a little, a little...
Jon Nelson: A little?
Hannah Goodin: Fluffy (laughs).
Jon Nelson: A lot Fluffy. So it is producer Jahi, Sandy Sandy, the executive producer, she's in charge of the con. You'll be hearing their voices here on the show this season as well. It's going to be a fully interactive experience here in radio at Georgia Public Broadcasting. It's going to be fun. And this is our first go around this year. And we got some very special guests hanging out with us.
Hannah Goodin: We do, but you don't have to keep staring at the camera. I think it's just there is like a, like a background. So people can, like, observe. John is like staring into the soul of the camera right now.
Jon Nelson: OK, so you really want me to stare into the soul of the camera? Here's what I'll do. Watch this. (Jon gets up and looks directly into the camera). I'm going to go as far as the headset will carry me.
Hannah Goodin: But then we can't hear. Oh, I see what you're doing. Yeah. People watching that was scary. That actually was terrifying.
Jon Nelson: I starred into the soul of the camera. There, for those that are going to be watching on the YouTube channel, I've just completely disrupted everything. And we're only four minutes in.
Hannah Goodin: I wouldn't expect anything less. OK, back to our our guests
Jon Nelson: Who are our guests this week Hannah?
Hannah Goodin: We are talking to Matt Stewart, the Play by Play of GPB.
Jon Nelson: Heard of him.
Hannah Goodin: And recruiting guru. And we've also got Todd Holcomb, GHSF Daily. He knows everything and anything about what's going on in high school. So we've got both them on to preview the season, give us top storylines on and off the field, some recruiting nuggets and their top teams to watch.
Jon Nelson: Top teams, top players, and all that stuff that we get to cram into a weekly show. First and foremost, as I look over my left shoulder for those watching on video. Our conversation with Matt Stewart.
Jon Nelson: So, Matt, my first question for you, you know, obviously it's storylines and there's a consistency here in the state of Georgia when it comes to coaching changes, it's usually anywhere from about 18 to 25 percent, usually depending on the year. Coaching changes obviously, your biggest storyline in the off season coming into 2021?
Matt Stewart: It's one of them, there's no doubt about it. You've got the return of two of the most successful high school coaches in the state of Georgia in history over the long term and the short term. The short term being Joey King, and the phenomenal run he had at Cartersville for five years. And then he went off to the college ranks, to Coastal Carolina, and then most recently South Florida, returning to Carrollton. You know, his old stomping grounds over there in west Georgia and replacing Sean Calhoun who went to Vestevia Hills in Alabama. Takes over a great program, you know, they will be an immediate state championship contender. You know, they're going to be in the top 10. They'll be one of the teams to beat. And Joey King back in the state as a high school football coach. Huge story. Jeff Herron back in the state as a high school football coach. Huge story. Had been at Tennessee Tech, on the coaching staff there, after stepping away from the high school game. And it appeared that, you know, he was going to, you know, ride out the rest of his career in the coaching ranks as an assistant coach. But he's been drawn back to Camden County where he won three state championships, you know, within the past 20 years, back in the 2000's, won three state championships at Camden County. Last time we saw him in the state of Georgia, he was winning the state championship at Grayson in 2016
Jon Nelson: There's a commonality here that you're discussing Matt.
Matt Stewart: State championships. Yes, those are the commonalities for Jeff Herron. And, of course, he won one at Oconee County too. So he's back at Camden County. Camden County, I got them in my top ten. I mean, they had talent coming back anyway. Bob Sphire went back to the state of Kentucky where he had won a bunch of state titles. And Jeff Herron comes back to Georgia, where he's won a bunch of state titles. So Jeff Herron back at Camden County, Joey King at Carrollton, big stories. And Tim McFarlin. He's going to try to make it the trifecta in Roswell. Won a state championship at Roswell High School.
Jon Nelson: Yep.
Matt Stewart: Won three state championships at BT, also in Roswell. And basically, he's going to drive across the street now to Fellowship Christian, which was the state championship contender before he got there. And now perhaps just as much so, if not even more so now that he is there. I'll have Fellowship Christian number two in my very first ballot that I submit for single A private. So those three guys, those are huge. We've got of course, there's a ton of them. We could go on and on and on.
Jon Nelson: There's a lot of changes. Yeah, you're right.
Matt Stewart: Yeah. And some big and significant ones, no doubt about it. You know, maybe not as big, maybe not names quite as big as those guys. All those guys have won state championships, changing jobs, but some big moves nonetheless that I think will have significance. Our good friend Bryan Lamar leaving Tucker after so many years and going to South Gwinnett. And, you know, boy, is that going to be tough. You go to South Gwinnett, you go to a deep county, deep region. And it's been a while since, you know, since they were, you know, a contender, you know, a playoff contender. But I'm talking about a realistic playoff deep threat run contender. So, Bryan Lamar goes there. Certainly wish the best for our buddy Bryan and how he's going to do there. That's a, you know, another significant story. Ron Gartrell, for the first time in 33 years, Ron Gartrell is not going to be head coaching in the state of Georgia, retired from Stevenson. So I mean there's so many huge stories in regards to coaches and changing jobs or retiring or coming back into the game. It'll be interesting to see. That's a huge storyline.
Hannah Goodin: Yes, it is. New head coach Marcus Jelks now at Stephenson.
Matt Stewart: That's right.
Hannah Goodin: I had a chance to talk with him at media days. Yeah, those are some big shoes to fill.
Jon Nelson: No kidding. I mean, you've got that. You've got Paul Standard, who retires at Pius and heads to the mountains. You've got the all those folks that are leaving out of DeKalb County. You know, you've got Miguel Patrick going to Crisp's from Cedar Grove. And I'm used, there's a lot of names that are out there. And I know that, I mean, we're just barely scratching the surface with that. I think it was 90 or 92 coaching changes in the off season. I know, Hannah, that you wanted to to go off the field with your first question.
Matt Stewart: Yeah, but that also leads to another coaching change.
Hannah Goodin: I know right!
Jon Nelson: It's nothing like the circular nature of the show always dealing with a particular topic. Go for it.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. Off the field matters, been some drama with one particular school. Let's hear your take on what's going down there in South Georgia and Valdosta.
Matt Stewart: Well, certainly Valdosta being ruled ineligible for the playoffs is a huge story in the state of Georgia. You're talking about the winningest program in nation's history and Rush Propst who had gone there. And many of the Valdosta faithful had thought, this is the guy that's going to get us right back to where our glory days. Not that the glory days have been too far. Rodemaker taken them to the 2016 state title. But, you know, in Valdosta, as we know, it's what have you done for me lately? And that's just the nature. And that's not a criticism of Valdosta by any means.
Jon Nelson: That's how Titletown is wired.
Matt Stewart: Exactly. That's just the nature of being a big time program that's won a ton of games, won a ton of championships. And that's across the board whether that's a high school program or a college program or an NFL program, they all have that expectations or have that kind of expectation. And so patience, you know, patience is short at places like that. So, you know, that's the big story. Valdosta being ineligible for the state playoffs. Of course, Rush is no longer the coach there. And I would think it's highly doubtful we're going to see Rush coaching ever again in the state of Georgia with this recent run in and alleged rule violations. I don't know whether they you know, the evidence seems pretty condemning and damning, but I'll leave judgment for other people, but I highly doubt we'll see him again. And it's a shame because Valdosta has got a talented team. In fact, you know, despite that, I have them ranked number five on my 6A ballot that I have turned in this week for our GPB rankings. You know, I'm not going to penalize the players by not ranking them. It's not their fault that they've been ruled ineligible and the rankings aren't about who's going to win the state title. I'm just ranking the teams as I see them as talented and where they stack up in the pecking order in the state of Georgia. So Valdosta has got a talented team. Unfortunately, they're not going to get a chance to prove that in the playoffs. You know, maybe it'll be kind of like my, you know, my friend Terry Bowden, you know, at Auburn. Remember, when he took over there and they couldn't compete in the bowl. They went 11 and 0.
Jon Nelson: Ran the table.
Matt Stewart: Couldn't play in a bowl game. Yeah. So, you know, that'll be motivation for Valdosta, motivation for Valdosta against the opponent they're playing this year. They're not going to get a chance to prove it in the playoff field. We'll see if they try to prove it during the during the regular season. Shame for those kids. I'll say that. And, you know, and leave judgment for others. It was a mess, no doubt about it. And I'm not saying that the the punishment isn't justified. You know, it was a pretty big transgression in violation, if indeed it's all true. And it seems to be, but tough for the kids. But they got a talented team and that's a huge story.
Jon Nelson: And I know that all of those topics, they are it's another show entirely. We could have another show on the Football Friday in Georgia podcast having to do with all the off the field stuff in Valdosta on its own and thoughts on all of that. But Matt Stewart, the play by play voice for GPB Sports Football Friday's In Georgia, hanging out with us here on the first weekly of the season. So this is the season, the season kickoff for the weekly version of the Football Friday's in Georgia podcast.
Matt Stewart: Yeah, I know. And I love it. You know, I tweeted that today. It's pretty amazing. Blogs, first blogs this week, our first recruiting show, you know, next week. Games start next week. Our first game's coming up on September 10th.
Jon Nelson: So there's nothing going on. Is what you're saying that?
Matt Stewart: No, it's just I don't know how it how it happened that way. Maybe it's just it just seems like it sneaks up on you really quick every year and all of a sudden you're like, oh, my goodness, I'm behind in my preparation.
Jon Nelson: Football is 24/7, 365 Matt, you know this. It's not summer, fall, winter and spring. Here it is football season, spring football, curtain, and then national signing day. Those are the four seasons for football here in the state of Georgia.
Matt Stewart: There you go. You're exactly right. I should know better
Jon Nelson: When it comes to your rankings. Is there any one that is, I guess, off the beaten path when it comes to your preseason rankings that you've submitted as a part of our collective here at GPB? Is there somebody that is kind of leaping onto the page that hasn't traditionally been there or is someone making that that next level jump that you're looking at here in 2021 who would some of those teams be do you think?
Matt Stewart: Well, I mean, I know just right off the top of my head, to me, that's got to be North Cobb.
Jon Nelson: Right.
Matt Stewart: I've got them ranked number two in the state behind Milton. Milton's my number one. Don't know that Milton's ever been pre-season number one in any rankings. There they are in mine. They're loaded. I think there's a great chance they win the 7A title. I got them ranked number one in 7A and I've got North Cobb ranked number two in 7A. They've had an infusion of talent. Let's just put it that way. They've got talent on their roster that wasn't on their roster last year. And you couple that with Malachi Singleton, their junior quarterback, who as a sophomore last year in our playoff game that we televised in the second round, North Cobb versus Lowndes, I clearly thought that Malachi Singleton was the most dynamic player on the field that night. And that includes Jacurri Brown, the quarterback at Lowndes and committed to Miami. I thought Malachi Singleton to me was the guy that jumped off the page that night. He was a sophomore quarterback. Now he's a junior quarterback and now he's been surrounded by Samuel Mbaki and Denylon Morrissette, who transferred from Brookwood and Mbakie now originally was at North Cobb and then went to IMG. And then when Covid hit, he came back. But when he came back, he went to Brookwood. Now he's back at North Cobb and Denylon Morrissette who's from Baltimore, who came south because covid canceled the season up there was at Brookwood last year. Now he's at North Cobb. Marquis Groves-Killebrew, one of the top cornerbacks in the entire nation committed to Georgia, is transferred over. And Andre Stewart, another corner, has transferred over.
Jon Nelson: That is stacked man.
Matt Stewart: Yeah, and he's committed to Auburn. So I think Auburn or Kentucky, I'd have to check my notes. I said Auburn. Then all of a sudden something a red flag went off my head. Maybe that's wrong,.
Jon Nelson: But he will compete in the SEC in some manner, way, shape or form.
Matt Stewart: Yeah, some way or some shape or form. So North Cobb's got all those guys, not to mention Joseph's coming back at linebacker. They already had a ton of talent anyway. And so I got 'em number two. And, you know, North Cobb, as far as they've ever gone to the playoffs, is the quarterfinal, a couple of years ago when Shane's boy was the quarterback and Shane's now the quarterbacks coach for his dad, there at North Cobb. And uh yeah, I think North Cobb probably stands in there, as you know, that team that kind of jumps off the page. And then I have Collins Hill number three. So, I mean, when you get down to it in Collins Hill this time a year ago, wasn't even on the radar of most people.
Jon Nelson: But Horn and Hunter will do that for you.
Matt Stewart: But they have Travis Hunter, who's now the number one prospect in the senior class in the entire nation. They got a four star quarterback in Sam Horn who's committed to Missouri. And Travis, now a senior, is still committed to Florida State. So, I mean, you take a look at the top three teams that I have in my 7A ballot that I'm submitting this week, Milton one, North Cobb two and Collins Hill three. Those are not teams that traditionally have been held have held those kind of spot right in the preseason rankings. I see. I think we kind of see a transition, if I'm right, big if if I'm right. We're seeing kind of a transition of power geographically here in in the Atlanta area and in the state of Georgia in 7A. And then I have Walton four and then Lowndes at five. That's the first south Georgia team I have checking in to my top ten. And then it starts a little, a little bit more like, you know, the usual suspects in the second five. But yeah, I see I see teams at the top of that 7A rankings that traditionally we haven't seen at the top of the 7A rankings.
Hannah Goodin: So those are your top ranked schools. I want to hear your top ranked players. You mentioned Recruiting 2021 coming back next week.
Jon Nelson: Excellent plug. Nicely done.
Hannah Goodin: And we only have a few more minutes with you, Matt, but I want to give you an opportunity to preview that show. What's to come? Who are the guys at the top of your list?
Matt Stewart: Well, the number one players in the nation, in the senior and the junior class are both from the state of Georgia. So Travis Hunter, the aforementioned you know, I don't want to say by default, but it is I mean, he rose to the number one spot because Quinn Ewers, the kid, the high school quarterback elected to forego his senior year and go ahead in enroll at a is...
Jon Nelson: Is it Ewers or Evers?
Matt Stewart: yeah, he went to Ohio State, yeah, it would be Ohio State. And that's all in the NIL thing, the name, image, likeness thing, because he's going to, he's going to go and start cashing in. And I don't know what kind of impact. I don't see a broad impact on high school players per say because of an NIL but it will be for a few.
Jon Nelson: If you're the top dog, if you're like one of the top qb's, like in this case, or the top defensive player or something like that, where you're at a marquee position and a marquee number, that's where I think it might impact. And everybody turn the price on.
Matt Stewart: I think quarterbacks. But I think that's going to be the case in college too.
Jon Nelson: Right.
Matt Stewart: Quarterbacks just like NFL, they're the guys are going to get the big payday. Yes. You know, the offensive linemen are going to get free dinners at a barbecue restaurant and the quarterbacks are going to get huge paydays. So...
Hannah Goodin: You're not wrong.
Matt Stewart: That's true. And I say it facetiously, but also it's very true. That's what's going to happen. So, yeah. So you got Travis Hunter now the number one prospect in the nation as a cornerback at Collins Hill, going to Florida State or at least committed there he has been since his sophomore year. As good a wide receiver at this level as he is corner. He's as dynamic as a wide receiver and we know we saw that firsthand on GPB last year. But you would think that his bread and butter next level college in the NFL is going to be as a corner because he's 6'1". Plenty of 6'1" wide receivers, and that's small for a wide receiver. But 6'1' in his skill set at cornerback makes gold. So, Travis under number one in the senior class, and LT Overton, the defensive end at Milton is the number one prospect in the junior class and has a 100 rating. That means he's got a perfect rating by, by 24/7 sports composite means he's consensus. No one's debating that he is the number one prospect. He's the number one prospect. And we saw him last year, first game of his, not the first game of sophomore year, but in his sophomore year. He is a dominating force. And you bring him back. You got him for two years and you surround him with all the talent they already had. Devin Farrell at quarterback, Jordan McDonald at running back, Jack Nickel at tight end. All these are all these are power five commitments. And then on the offensive line, big offensive lineman there who's a top ten offensive lineman in the state of Georgia, and Paul Tchio's brother Giles, a top ten defensive lineman over on the other side of the ball and of course, a great young dynamic coach. I think we'd all agree, Adam Clack is one of the you know, he's one of the young, bright, up and coming successful coaches. Compare him a little bit, you know, Joey King in that regard. So and Joey is still there but Joey a few years ahead of him and then went off to college and now he's back, as we talked about earlier. Adam Clack, I hold him in that same kind of regard. So that's one of the reasons why I got Milton number one, they're loaded with LT being the number one prospect. And a loaded quarterback class in the state of Georgia, which makes fun, of course, with Gunner Stockton up at Rabun County. You know, I've got Rabun number two on my Double A ballot. You know, can he get them to the state championship? Can he do for Rabun what brought Vandergrift did for Prince Avenue last year?
Jon Nelson: Right.
Matt Stewart: Finally get him to the Holy Land, Holy Land, the Holy Grail, when that state championship, you know, and of course, Jacurri Brown at Lowndes committed to Miami. Holden Gariner, down at Benedictine, Benedictine rather, committed to Auburn and all kinds of guys and even guys that are committed like Thomas Castellanos and all kinds of great, talented quarterbacks here in the state of Georgia. And Justice Haynes, the junior, that's why I got BT, ranked number one in 5A. This kid's going to maybe end up breaking the all-time rushing record in the state of Georgia. Verron Haynes kid, you know, he's going to have his choice of where he wants to go in college. Might be the best running back in the country.
Jon Nelson: No doubt about it. Matt, as always, it's great to catch up with you, especially as we're kicking things off here on a weekly basis here for the Football Friday's In Georgia podcast and audio and video form this year. So once again, partner, it'll be good to see you soon.
Jon Nelson: Recruiting 2021.
Matt Stewart: So, this is on video? Do I get a voice of a.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I think you will get a lower third.
Hannah Goodin: Fancy graphic.
Jon Nelson: A fancy lower third that says Matt Stewart play by play.
Matt Stewart: Use a good picture please.
Hannah Goodin: I'll be editing it so I'll make sure.
Matt Stewart: Thank you. Hannah take care of me there.
Jon Nelson: So it is going to take care of you. So Matt, it's great to catch up with you, my friend. Season's kicking off Recruiting 2021 coming up just around the corner. Thanks for being a part of the show. Thanks for being a part of the kickoff.
Matt Stewart: Yeah. Appreciate it.
Matt Stewart: Always good to catch up with Matt. And we've been to a couple of media days ourselves to kind of get things rolling for those that want to hear from their favorite coaches around the state.
Hannah Goodin: We have. We'll start with Fulton County media days. There were 16 schools. And since Matt was talking about Milton, we will talk about Coach Clack right now.
Jon Nelson: There you go.
Hannah Goodin: I can't get my words out. Adam Clack, head coach Adam Clack heading into his fifth season. I have interviewed him, in Jon's words, eleventy-billion times.
Jon Nelson:] Eleventy-billion times.
Hannah Goodin: So, I figured keeping their winning streak alive, I would interview him again. And he said one of the biggest things about their success is consistency. So 11 and 1 last year got knocked out in the quarterfinals, ranked one and two in the state right now, depending on who you talk to. We know Matt has them at number one.
Jon Nelson: Yes, Matt has them at number one.
Hannah Goodin: Matt that loves the Eagles. But he said that consistency across the board with coaching, training, everything is the reason for their success. And then something else we were asking a lot of the coaches is what did they learn about themselves as a coach last season going through unprecedented times with Covid-19? And he said it really helped them, which is strange, overcoming adversity, sudden change, adapting, getting more organized as a coaching staff. So surprisingly, he said it might have helped his team.
Jon Nelson: Who else have you caught up with during media days that kind of stuck out to you for whatever reason in catching up with them as we get ready for 2021?
Hannah Goodin: Well, with Fulton, the North Springs assistant coach Joe Hodge, head coach Jeff Phillips couldn't be there. He was at an event with his kids, but their entire coaching staff came down from Knoxville, Tennessee. And I asked him what the biggest difference was with Tennessee Ball and Georgia Ball. And he said, the size of the coaches, the size. I mean, I think staff. You mean size the size of the staff.
Jon Nelson: They all look like defensive linemen.
Hannah Goodin: The size of the number of players on the team. The size of the players.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: And the size of the school. So pretty much size across the board was his answer. And I thought that was interesting. But but let's take a really quick look at DeKalb County. I have a confession to make.
Jon Nelson: Okay.
Hannah Goodin: So we were interviewing all the coaches. Yes. I ended up with ten interviews. Some kind of got around me, snuck out.
Jon Nelson: Escaped.
Hannah Goodin: So sweet, sweet man came up to me at the very end. We were, we were wrapping up and he was like, I'm here for my interview. And I, you guys, I am so organized, if you know me, I have every picture of every new coach, ten new coaches. So it was a challenge. I had every picture of every new coach. I had their name, their background information. Somehow I had left Arabia Mountain off my list. The only school.
Jon Nelson: Aren't they the first one alphabetical?
Hannah Goodin: I don't know how I did it. I do not know. So new head coach. I have to give them a shout out, Julene Washington. He came from New Manchester. He was the defensive coordinator there. Felt horrible that I did not have him on the list. We got the interview. It was one of the most successful ones on social media. So I'm glad that we did. All of these interviews are on social media.
Jon Nelson: Well done.
Hannah Goodin: But poor coach Washington had to give him a shout out on the podcast. What about you? You went to Carroll County Media Days. Who are some of your top interviews?
Jon Nelson: Well, it was great to catch up with Joey King and what's going on there in Carrollton. Caught up with Tim Barron, who's no longer the head coach at Heard County. He is now at Villa Rica. Shane Lasseter, who we know from our time with dealing with George's EMC and our all of our visits to Franklin, Shane Lasseter's, the new head coach out there. Catching up with, you know, when you when you look at Breman and Bowdon and their Single A successes and Double A successes. It's always fun to to catch up with those folks, too. So it was a, it was it was a fun day to go out to Carroll County for West Georgia media days on a lot of different levels.
Hannah Goodin: And you've got a lot coming up. So you've got central swing, southern swing swing. Our social media platforms are overrun with interviews right now, which is amazing.
Jon Nelson: No such thing. Speaking of interviews, let's go to our second interview for our premiere for the 2021 weekly version of the Football Friday's In Georgia podcast. We caught up with Todd Holcomb, one of the major domos, grand exalted poobahs, one of the guys in charge, one of the great newsletters for anybody that wants to follow anything with Georgia high school football information is the GHSF Daily. Here's our catch up with Todd Holcomb.
Jon Nelson: Welcoming Todd Holcomb into the show, one of the major domos and grand exalted poobahs of the Georgia High School Football Daily. If you don't subscribe and well, I'll ask Todd at the end of this, if you do not subscribe to this daily newsletter, you are truly missing out. For the record. and I'm going to pull back the curtain here just a second. I have saved every single one of these.
Hannah Goodin: You're not pulling back the record because you say this every single time.
Jon Nelson: I'm pulling back the record this season, pulling back the curtain this year, to remind folks. I have saved every single one of the Georgia High School Football Dailies since you and Chip started this segment. It is a great resource. Glad to have you on the season kickoff for the Football Friday's In Georgia Podcast's. Thanks for coming on.
Todd Holcomb: Sure. Glad to be here.
Jon Nelson: All right. When we had Matt on earlier and we were talking about some of the big storylines this season when it comes to Georgia high school football, and you guys have already started your deep dives into the classes and coaching changes and substitutions and things like that. If it if I was to pin it down to the best hire or the best couple of hires that have happened in the off season, who do you think that those coaches would be when it comes to Georgia high school football?
Todd Holcomb: Good question. I know a lot of interesting names, you know, well, known names moved around. I would say probably the two blockbusters would be, you know, Jeff Herron coming back to Georgia at Camden County. I thought he was probably probably done. So uh, Camden County had an opportunity when Coach Sphire moved on, went to Kentucky. It was in Camden County having coach Herron back, that's going to be a lot of fun. I mean, of course, the only coach in state history to have won state titles over three different schools. So, he would be one and then Carrollton getting Joey King. Joey King, I don't think he's ever lost a high school game or he has it's no more than about, what, four, three, four? So, won three state titles at Cartersville and I'm sure he only got better being a college coach for a couple of years. So he's at Carrollton. So those are probably the two biggest. And then but then you've also got Tim McFarlin. I mean, he's one. I mean, one, two, three, four state titles. And he's going to be at Fellowship Christian. Paul Standard. I didn't see that happening. Him going to Gilmer that's a great hire. Great hire for Gilmer. And then Miguel Patrick is going to be at Crisp County from Cedar Grove. So, yeah, a lot of really not just interesting because the hires some that caught me by surprise, maybe five of them like that.
Hannah Goodin: Those are some good storylines on the field. What about off the field now? Matt covered Valdosta so we can just skim right over that if we want to. What is one of your top storylines off the field in this offseason?
Todd Holcomb: Well, yes, so Matt he's heard about the Valdosta thing. Yeah, can't get anything by him or you guys? That's a good question. Lots of things. I think one thing, it was a little bit quieter than last offseason because as you recall, I think it was around this time that the GHSA board of trustees was meeting and everybody was afraid they were going to cancel the season. So, you know, so far is that no news is kind of good news. You know, here's I mean, I don't know if it's the biggest story, but certainly one that I think should be said is that, you know, one of the greatest coaches of all time, Dan Pitts, passed away. And that was kind of sad. He was at Mary Persons for probably over 30 years, retired as the winningest coach in Georgia history. Also lost Coach Brooks he was a really good coach at Washington-Wilkes. So that was something we had in our our opening issues, talking about things that happened in the off season. And yeah,
Jon Nelson: I mean, you mentioned Dan Pitts and there's someone who is one win shy of another large number here in the state of Georgia. And I don't think it can be overstated what Alan Chadwick has meant to the fabric of high school football here in the state of Georgia. I mean, for for Alan Chadwick to be just shy of 400 wins, still chasing Larry Campbell. And I mean, Hannah, you got to catch up with that with Coach Chadwick, at DeKalb County Media days. I mean, this is coaching, is the only thing that Alan Chadwick does. I mean, Todd, I don't think it can be overstated the the place that Alan Chadwick has in Georgia high school football coaching history.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah, no question. He's won 399 and he's only lost, I think about 73. So let me just think about that and just the consistency. I don't know that any program has been as consistent as Marist in the time he's been there. You know, and they never won a state title, even though they had had lots of good teams, lots of teams that lost in championship, they had not won a state title. He's won three there. And, you know, he he's somebody who he looks like he's in better shape than I am. And he's you know, he's several years older. And so he could coach. So he's probably around seventy nine. Yes. Somebody told me I've never verified this, so I don't know if I should be spreading rumors. But somebody told me once they said Coach Chadwick has a picture of Larry Campbell in his office. I don't know if that means anything, because he would never say that he's interested in where he ranks all the time because he's about 78 wins behind Coach Campbell and that would take him a few years. But who knows? He may still be around chasing that one day. But, yeah, he's also one of the quick facts on that I was able to find out that, do a little research, and I discovered that he would become only the 35th coach in U.S. history to get 400 wins. That puts it in perspective as well.
Hannah Goodin: He's also been coaching at Marist since before I was born. So I'll just throw that out there.
Jon Nelson: Wow!
Hannah Goodin:] I didn't say that to him when I interviewed him, but..
Todd Holcomb: That's the best stat I've heard.
Jon Nelson: (laughs).
Hannah Goodin: 32 years.
Todd Holcomb: Well, and, you know, he was and he was at Marist several years even before that...
Jon Nelson:] As an assistant under Coach Hargis, right.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah. And then the interesting thing about him, you know, they've always run, you know, the wishbone or I guess now a more modern version of that, but they still still pitch it and run it. And but, you know, he was a passing quarterback. You know, kind of ahead his time ahead of his time as a thrower. He played for Decatur High School, got a scholarship to Georgia. He went to Tennessee,.
Jon Nelson: Tennessee Tech.
Todd Holcomb: There you go. I think that's right. And he was drafted by the Bears or something and didn't play in the NFL. But he was drafted. A lot of things about him that are pretty amazing. Even if he could not coach.
Hannah Goodin: While Coach Chadwick is being very humble, he said they're going to struggle this season. It's kind of a rebuild for him. He doesn't know if he's going to get number 400 against BT right off the bat or not. He said it could take him a while. That is to be seen. He's probably just being very humble.
Jon Nelson: Every single year. It's the same way.
Hannah Goodin: So with that being said, Todd, I want to hear about your teams to watch this season. We are just a few weeks away from kickoff. And who were the, who were the teams on the top of your list?
Todd Holcomb: Well, let's see, I mean, I think it all as you've been studying it, as you guys do pretty well. Some of these will come as a surprise.
Jon Nelson: Is this a chalk year do you think?
Todd Holcomb: What is a chalk year?
Jon Nelson: Basically, the same, the favorites from last year.
Todd Holcomb: Oh, yeah.
Jon Nelson: Would would roll themselves back over and be the favorites again this year. Is this a year where we're going to see some of the same faces or we're going to see some different faces in your mind heading toward the last game of the year?
Todd Holcomb:] I think some different faces actually. Now that's a good question, though. I mean, one thing I'll say, all eight of the state champions, I think, will be good again. But I don't know if any of them except for Buford's that I would call absolutely the team to beat in their class. So I think you're going to see a new group. You know, usually we had a little list in our newsletter the other day about it, about one of every four state champions repeats, at least historically. That's been the trend. I don't know we'll get two this year. But I think Buford is maybe the team to beat in that class. Grayson will be good because they're always good, but they definitely will not have the most talented team in the highest class,
Hannah Goodin: We might not be saying Grayson as much as we did last year. If I had a quarter for every time we mentioned Grayson, I would I would have a lot more money.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah, yeah. They were a great team for sure. And they had, I didn't have any of their players preseason first team All-state. That doesn't mean they don't have guys who might become All-state and they'll be good. I mean, they always are. But but they're not, I mean, I think they're three or four teams that I think you can clearly say on paper, have more talent. I would start with Milton, who I know Matt likes a lot.
Jon Nelson: Yes, he does.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah. And Collins Hill, they're going to be pretty good, you have most of the guys back, including the main guys. In fact, Milton and Collins Hill both have four preseason all-state guys and I only pick 26. So that's a third of the team.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Todd Holcomb: Those, those two teams and of course and Travis Hunter and Sam Horn. I mean they could be the best quarterback wide receiver duo in state history. I mean they've already got more touchdown passes between them than Harrison Bailey and Eric Gilbert, just to give you an idea. And they've got a few years left. So they going to be really good. North Cobb, another team that's going to be looks like they're going to be loaded. A great quarterback, Malachi Singleton and two D1 wide receivers, two major D1 cornerbacks. So they're going to be probably their best team that I can remember. So those are the ones, Lowndes has a great quarterback coming back and they're always good. They'll be a contender.
Jon Nelson: Now, you'd mentioned, you'd mentioned Lowndes. Who else from outside the city of Atlanta and some of the other classifications might be making runs?. I know you mentioned Jeff Herron at Camden County, but he's going to be in the region of doom going up against places like Lowndes. Who else outside the city of Atlanta are you keeping an eye on that could be making the run to Georgia state?
Todd Holcomb: I think local Colquitt County may, it wouldn't surprise me if they wound up being the best team down there. They don't have any star players, but they've just got a good roster. They beat Lowndes last year. People forget that they did a pretty good. And I think you, Camden's probably you know, it may take them a little bit longer, although they have three first team, All-state players, but they don't have the depth of Lowndes and Colquitt. So as far as that classification goes for the rest of I mean, it'll be a lot of contenders in south Georgia and middle Georgia. I think Lee County will be just as good again. Unfortunately, Buford may be better. So I'm going to say before it is the team to beat. But Lee County, you probably had that state title, heartbreaking the way they lost that, you know, last year and before you could see a rematch of those two teams somewhere along the line. I think Warner Robins, even though they lost a great quarterback, Addie, I think they'll be almost as good. They probably would be my second most likely defending champion to win again. I think they will be dealing with less of trading in that classification. But I think Ware County is probably the next best team. That's another South Georgia team. Coffee will be good again in 5A. So, yeah. And we can keep going down the line if you want to.
Jon Nelson: You guys got, you got a list, brother, that's all that matters.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: Well, last question for me. We got to talk a little bit about recruiting before we let you go. What are your thoughts on all of this offseason recruiting craziness in the NIL? What's your, what's your take on recruiting this season?
Todd Holcomb: Yes, so are you talking about college recruiting of players or you're talking about high schools recruiting players from other high school?
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, high school recruiting players from other schools. It's getting a little crazy out there, Todd.
Todd Holcomb: Yeah, well, yes. Well, obviously, you know, I won't rehash what you all discussed with Valdosta, but that, I think just broached the question. Well, if this happened in Valdosta, how how common is this? You know, and I just had a story that was in the AJC and also in our newsletter. We did a survey of the coaches and it was not a surprise at all that that they felt like it is a problem that they want the Georgia High School Association to do more. And, you know, maybe it's not as serious as some of the allegations at Valdosta. I don't think people think there's a lot of, you know, a lot of money changing hands in that sort of thing. But they do believe that, you know, that a lot of the transfers you see or that there's something illegal going on behind that. And I think one of the big surprises of the survey for me, or maybe not surprising, I should know, but people are becoming very suspicious of private coaches and trainers outside of the high school setting. They may be physical trainers or that work on strength and conditioning. You know, this is not that uncommon now for, especially for, athletes that are potential college recruits to work year round and hire private people to help them out, especially quarterback coaches, receiver coaches, lineman coaches, things like that. And these obviously, they become very important in the lives of these players and have a lot of influence on them. And so a lot of high school coaches believe they have too much influence, meaning that they may be encouraging them. Like, you know, if you're not in a great situation at this school, you need to look to go somewhere else. And that that's triggering a lot of a lot of the transferring that you're seeing in.
Jon Nelson: Todd, since you mentioned the poll that you ran at the Georgia High School Football Daily. For those who have who do not subscribe, what is the season looking like for you guys? What are you guys doing at the high school football daily? And you guys do a tremendous job. Go ahead and let everybody know what's going on there and how folks can be a part of the conversation and get all the good work that you guys do.
Todd Holcomb: Well, thanks, yeah, so we we always start up in August and we run through about a week after the state finals. And once the season starts, we have a pretty routine schedule where we're on Mondays, we we have a little game wrap ups of all the teams are in the top ten and how they how they did. And then on Tuesdays, we have top individual performers where we highlight players around the state that have big games and we do previews on Thursdays of all the big games. We also have awards. We go out the community. We do a state player of the year, a state play of the week. And then we do a theme of the week. And those are in-person presentations that we do and lots of other things like that. And we predict the winner contest. That's a lot of fun as well. So we get like a thousand people. We get to give a prize if you can get the most games. Right. In fact I was working on that just now. So I'm trying to figure out what my games are. So but yeah, if you want to subscribe, it is a free newsletter that comes in your in your inbox every morning during the week. And you can find us on our new website, which is can be found at Georgia High School Football Daily Dotcom.
Jon Nelson: And also follow him on Twitter as well at GHSF Daily, at GHSF Daily on Twitter. Todd, as always, great to catch up with you here at the beginning of the season. We get scrimmages happening and we've got games coming up just around the corner and the sprint begins for Georgia State. Thanks for hanging out with us here on the first weekly version of the Football Friday's In Georgia podcast. And putting up with me and enjoying Hannah far more than enjoying me every single week. Thanks for hanging out with us, my friend. We'll catch up soon.
Todd Holcomb: Sure. That was fun. I appreciate it.
Hannah Goodin: Thanks Todd.
Jon Nelson: All right. So let me bring in, let me bring in Jahi and Sandy, Sandy here for the end of the show. Guys, it's the first time that we and I wanted to make this an interactive experience across the board. I wanted to have everybody who could chime in, chime in. We've got our first show done. Jahi What do you think?
Jahi Whitehead: I think it went great, minus, minus all like the technical difficulties that we had to work out.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, just so many for you guys.
Jon Nelson: Like I thought you were going to say, other than having Nelson sitting there on the point and messing things up every.
Jahi Whitehead: Oh no, it was really coming from us. We're just trying to figure out all these new technologies.
Jon Nelson: See now. And Jahi
Hannah Goodin: I thought you're being sarcastic because this went great.
Jon Nelson: But yeah, but see, the thing is, it's like now, Sandy. So when I try to explain what we're doing and I always talk to folks and they sit there and they say, oh, it's so incredibly flawless. You guys do such a great job, whether it's Football Friday's In Georgia or this podcast or what have you. I always try to sit there and explain it to him, like, if you've got a dog and you take a dog to the lake and, you know, you always like to play fetch with the dog and you throw the stick in the lake, which you always see with the dog is what's going on with the dog above the waterline once they catch the stick. Sticks in their mouth and they're just huffing along and they're just doing their thing. And you just see all the calm that's there with the dog as the dog's coming back to shore. But what you don't see is the dog just frantically just trying to make sure that he stays what he's doing. And he gest...
Hannah Goodin: This is like the duck analogy. You're saying this wrong. It's like the duck analogy. A duck looks so smooth on top of the water. So it's you don't see the paddling.
Jon Nelson: But I don't see I don't think Sandy Sandy has ducks at home. I think she has dogs. And that's the analogy I use with dogs. Am I wrong in explaining everything that it takes to put this show together, to make it look this effortless?
Sandy Malcolm: You guys are naturals. So and you can obviously talk without much prompting. So you make it look pretty easy. I will say it makes it a lot easier back here.
Hannah Goodin: Thanks, Sandy.
Jon Nelson: A thousand thanks, but no, there's a lot of work that goes into this and obviously a shout out to everybody on the other side of the glass that you're going to be hearing from all season long. For those that are watching on the GPB YouTube channel and watching how this gets done every single week. And you can do it, you can catch up with us at GPB.org or on your favorite podcatcher. Don't forget to download the GPB sports app iOS and Android. So that way you can get all the information and a bunch of different ways. You're going to be hearing from a lot of different folks this season, including a lot of us here at Georgia Public Broadcasting as we bring another season of Football Friday's In Georgia to you, game of the week, September 10th, and a lot of stuff that we're doing this year.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. Let me give you the rundown of everything coming up on it. Then I have a shout out.
Jon Nelson: There you go.
Hannah Goodin: Blog start this week, like we mentioned. What are you writing about?
Jon Nelson: Region 2 AA media day. And it's one of the toughest regions that probably no one knows about. And we always talk about regions that are in the blender. And where something happens, team could go from first to fifth or, you know, second to fourth. You could be in the playoffs one week and then out the next. One of those regions is going to be in the blender this year. Caught up with the coaches down there at Vidalia, Jeff Davis, East Laurens, Swainsboro, Bacon County. A lot of the folks down there. And it was great to catch up with all of them. And we're going to have that preview of Region 2 AA coming up this week for me.
Hannah Goodin: I'll be doing my zoom interviews, blogs, if you will, and they will coincide with the Recruiting 2021 show. So my Zoom interview is TBD. That won't start until next week. We've got Countdown To Kickoff next Wednesday, August 19th. We are back, no Thursday. Thursday, already messing it up. We are no longer on Wednesday.
Jon Nelson: August 19th at noon Thursday.
Hannah Goodin: Thursday back to lunch. What's for lunch.
Jon Nelson: What's for lunch. Get it prepared Thursday at noon.
Hannah Goodin: We are also recording Recruiting 2021 that day which will air digitally Friday. It will be two digital shows, two or three digital shows before we start our very first game, September 10th. Look for the announcement soon on what our game will be. All right. I have a shout out. OK, go for it. Sandy and I both have a shout out. And that is to you, Mr. Nelson.
Jon Nelson: That's my father. I'm just Jon. But go ahead.
Hannah Goodin: You were inducted.
Jon Nelson: There's applause on the other side of the glass. I think I know where this is going.
Hannah Goodin: You were inducted into the southeast chapter of the Silver Circle.
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: Which is twenty five.
Jon Nelson: That just means I'm old.
Hannah Goodin: Twenty five years of service and television, excellence, keyword excellence, excellence. You've been at GPB for 27 years.
Jon Nelson: 27 seasons in the spring of 1994.
Hannah Goodin: Congratulations.
Jon Nelson: Thank you very much.
Hannah Goodin: You also won a Gabby this year. An Emmy nom. I mean what haven't you done?
Jon Nelson: Won the Emmy. That's what I haven't done. I haven't won the Emmy. I haven't won a Peabody haven't won a Murrow. I've won others. But I've been nominated for an Emmy. I'm like the Susan Lucci of Emmys. It's like nominated but never won. And so that's it. That's when I have my Shemar Moore, Susan Lucci moment, that's when it's complete. But now it's you're nominated to be in the Silver Circle. It's like 175 folks in the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Silver Circle, and it's 25 years of service.
Hannah Goodin: That was too many words for me. So I don't just cut it short.
Jon Nelson: Southeast Emmy. And then that way you can go to NATAS online and they can give you the details. But going in with a class with one of my mentors, Bill Hartman, is going in this year. Alvin Brian, one of my good friends that worked alongside with me when he was at Channel Ttwo locally and you know, learning from Bill, who's a mentor of mine, and to go in with that class, Chris Holcomb, I think is going in from WXIA locally. And it's going to. Get this. OK, so. September the 10th is when they're having the banquet and the dinner and the induction,
Hannah Goodin: so we are missing.
Jon Nelson: What's wrong with this picture?
Hannah Goodin: That sounds like our first Football Friday In Georgia Broadcast.
Jon Nelson: That is accurate. Yes.
Hannah Goodin: So are we missing you for the first game of, I think, and our new postgame show?
Jon Nelson: I don't think you're going to be missing me for that. But, yeah, when when the boss has an opportunity to dress up and go to a fancy smancy hotel and see an induction. Now, that is an opportunity that will not be missed. But no, thank you to Mark Harmon, our former sports director who nominated me, who's also a member of Silver Circle. And that's the process. So Mark made it part of his mission to make sure that I was nominated for Silver Circle and they gave me the thumbs up this year. So going in in early September, absolutely blessed and honored and thankful for everyone who has reached out to give their kind words about this this honor. And it honestly has blown me away on multiple fronts for everyone who's reached out to congratulate me for this. But it is not without the work of a boatload of other folks on a weekly basis. Everybody here that is in this room that is staring at me right now, rambling on and on about going into Silver Circle, everybody on the second floor, Kevin Gerke, our sports director, Teya Ryan our President and CEO, Adam Woodlief, Bert Huffman. I mean, it's just a bunch of folks here at Georgia Public Broadcasting that have put up with me for now, 27 seasons to go to where we are right now with our high school programing. It's been absolutely tremendous, just honored and blessed for all of the everybody that has reached out to, you know, congratulate me for going into Silver Circle. So, yeah, it's definitely has been blown me away. It really has.
Hannah Goodin: So this is my 11th year in broadcasting. I hit you up in 14 years and then you can nominate me into the Silver Circle. Absolutely. That's exciting. I had to make this about me somehow.
Jon Nelson: It's all about Hannah. And that's one of the things that we've always figured out about this.
Hannah Goodin: It is not. It is not all about me. I'm kidding. OK, great show. Hey, first weekly show this season. Good stuff.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Ready break.
Hannah Goodin: And buy Jon's book.
Jon Nelson: Yes, buy Jon's book, Noble Strong. Yeah. Easiest on Amazon. And it's a great story about the 2019 season for Irwin County and a great friend of mine and everybody here at GPB, Buddy Nobles and what Irwin County went through as a community. And it's about lessons, about a bunch of different things. It's not just a football book. It's about community and faith and family and winning and growing up sooner than you should. But now it was an absolute you know, to get that finished and have that out also. That was tremendous work as well. So it's been an eventful spring and summer.
Hannah Goodin: It has. And it's been an eventful show. We only went off the rails twice i think.
Jon Nelson: Because, you know, we tried to you know, because I'm trying to I'm trying to get out of town so I can actually go talk to coaches.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, John's literally about to zoom out of here to head down to central swing. So let's wrap it up.
Jon Nelson: For Jahi, for Sandy, Sandy, on the other side of the glass for you, Hannah, for me...
Hannah Goodin: for Jon staring into the camera the whole show.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, staring into the camera, the whole show, because you don't want people to see the the ear from the headset. But that's another go around to the Football Fridays In Georgia podcast. Play it safe everybody. We'll see you next week.